House of Moves Puts Video Mods in Motion

If you’ve caught MTV2’s new animated series, Video Mods, you’ve seen some of today’s hottest music videos recreated by characters from best-selling video games. Getting those 3D game heroes and vixens to move like rock stars is the work of motion-capture studio House of Moves, a division of VICON Motion Systems.

Video Mods uses motion derived from real performers to drive the 3D game characters. Motion capture sessions were done at House of Moves using the facility’s 120x60x24-foot motion capture stage and VICON motion-capture camera array. Singers, instrumentalists and dancers were captured to create a musical band setup and deliver life-like animation for application to characters and environments provided by game publishers such as Electronic Arts, Vivendi Universal Games, Bioware, Majesco and Take Two Interactive.

Video Mods exec. producer and director Tony Shiff comments, "The data we record does not just approximate the motion of the professional musicians and actors we cast–it is their motion. It was great to be watching the final animated clips with some of the motion-captured band members and see the excitement when they saw authentic musician moves." He notes that the project began at House of Moves, which receives production company billing alongside his Big Bear Ent., when it became clear that the same techniques the studio was using on other projects could be applied to the more on-the-fly production style of music videos.

The project involved four days of initial motion capture with VICON MCam2 cameras recording upwards of 600 shots, each lasting one to four minutes. Additional sessions were done for pick-ups using new top-of-the-line VICON MX40s.

Recent Video Mods installments include Lil’ Jon’s “Get Low,” recreated by the video game Fight Club; Evanescence’s "Everybody’s Fool" via BloodRayne 2; the Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacey’s Mom” featuring The Sims 2; and the Von Bondies video “Cmon Cmon,” overhauled by Tribes: Vengeance. Other episodes feature the music of The Black Eyed Peas, New Found Glory, The Darkness, Christina Milian, Ying Yang Twins and The Vines, mixed with games such as SSX 3, Outlaw Golf 2, Jade Empire, Fight Night and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

The next episode of Video Mods can be seen on MTV2 on Saturday, Oct. 30, at 9:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. PT.