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Motion Capture Centre

Part 1 Project 2002
Pinelopi-Zoi Antoniou
Phillip Obayda
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
Motion Capture is essentially choreographic mapping, a process of translating physical displacement into digitised information. The design consists of two motion capture environments – the main motion capture stage and the adjacent aquatic motion capture pool. Both utilise the capacity of the dome, a form that is inherently described by an infinite number of vertices drawn from its centre. The dome is a digital grid, a virtual landscape whereupon choreographic mapping is enabled through the use of digital voyeurs, the sensor cameras. Two mutual landscapes occupy the motion capture space – the virtual and the physical. This dichotomy stipulates a design premise – to provide a physical environment that is independent of and yet described by the virtual environment. To provide and utilise a dome without constructing a dome.

The design was triggered by a structural concept – a series of five intersecting curved trusses that collectively describe both the underside of the aquatic motion capture pool and the roof to the motion capture stage. The structural ‘vertebra’ would accommodate the sensor cameras, the lighting and access rigs, and would support the glazed stage roof. The vertebra drove the project in two direction, or two phases.

The first phase considered the premise through the means of digital design, allowing the vertebra to govern the expansion and growth of the motion capture centre. The second phase revisited the premise, isolating the core elements of the project – that of the motion capture stage, the adjacent aquatic motion capture pool and the vertebra – and the design developed an entirely new character through a series of hand-drawn sectional details. Though the phases were successive, they are two independent investigations founded on the same premise, and perhaps further emphasise the dualism of the two motion capture environments – the virtual and the physical.

Motion capture, though consumed in a language of digital technology, draws from the spirit of the performing arts the intimacy between the stage and the gallery, between the performer and the spectator.

Pinelopi-Zoi Antoniou
Phillip Obayda

The project developed over two terms; the first brief was for the Architecture and Multimedia course and allows students to develop computer skills, notably using Form-Z. The architecture students worked with students from both Music and the MSc in Design and Digital Media.

The design is organised around two principal spaces: a motion capture arena and an aquatic motion capture vessel. A unifying structure sweeps through the entire building, forming an intricate series of vertebrae. The spaces exploit and extend the potential of the dome, forming a dome/anti-dome structure. The design is not restricted to the activity of motion capture as currently understood, but rather informs and expresses its potential. Aquatic motion capture is an unexplored area.

The geometrical intricacies of resolving the meeting of these two structures produces a knotted truss structure. At one level the design is about modelling the knot, the complex join between two radial forms, an exercise that would perhaps only be contemplated with computer modelling as a design medium as it operates with three reference planes, not just two.

Philip’s project was then developed further through the second term "Architecture and Technology : conceptual realisation" course which feeds on the first and encourages students to consider the materials and relationship of components and junctions in a manner which reinforces the concept. The contrast between the two briefs was immediately apparent-the first encouraging exploration of the virtual, which in Philip’s case had resulted in a spectacular, but complex form. The second promoting the reality of built form. Philip' s project celebrates this duality and he relished the process of editing and refining the radial structure and the point of intersection.

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