Staying the Course with "Stasys"

A new indie project is fueled by artists, audiences and LightWave 3D

Posted: Wed 25 Jul 2012

Indie - The New Black

A new trend is emerging for artists—one that bypasses Hollywood, studio execs and creative restrictions to deliver truly independent productions for both the silver screen and the Internet. One such indie project utilizing LightWave throughout the production pipeline, is Stasys—an action adventure sci-fi thriller web series from Kelly “Kat” Myers, creator, writer, director, VFX supervisor and artist for the series.

The production of Stasys is ambitious, but Myers’ extensive background with leading sci-fi productions like Battlestar Galactica and the recent independent film Iron Sky gives him the knowledge and confidence to launch the project. Add to it a dynamic team of artists and volunteers from around the world, all working together via the Internet, and the stage is set.

Community

Myers credits the LightWave community for its support, which he explains, has been pivotal in the creation of the Stasys universe. Newcomers alongside seasoned VFX veterans like Eric Chu, famed concept artist who created the centurians, basestars, raiders and the design of the Galactica itself in Battlestar Galactica, Wes Sargent of Stargate (SG:1), Tuomas Kankola of Iron Sky and many others are creating high-end sets and lighting for the show. “This combination of experience and raw talent is really starting to pay off,” explains Myers. “We are attracting the attention of not only the LightWave community at large but also producers in Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles.”

Stasys will be a fully CG, stereoscopic web series complete with believable CG characters. "The goal is to make the show as photorealistic as possible.” Myers continues, “While we can do that easily using LightWave's superior technology, the show will live or die, in my opinion, based on how the drama is presented onscreen using skillful motion capture of our actors and their faces. It has to look and feel awesome at all times,” he exclaimed. “Thankfully we now have that part covered and can do it on the micro budgets we are working with."

Performance Capture

The Stasys motion capture solution combines Ipi Soft's DMC motion capture software, working with two Kinect for Xbox 360 systems and six PSEye cameras for moves that require a larger space capture. In conjunction with the Ipi Soft DMC product, Stasys will also take advantage of the power of Origami Digital's JimmyRig software, which also works with the Kinect. "This will give us the best range of solutions for body motion capture without having to use mocap suits or large stage areas, which we don't have access to,” says Myers. "The biggest challenge isn't really getting an actor to move, but getting an actor to be a character when using motion capture,” he continued. “That means the facial capture has to be top notch, which is why we chose the Dynamixyz Performer Suite for our facial capture solution." 

After witnessing a Dynamixyz demonstration at the Stasys production offices in Vancouver, Myers knew they had the right solution for the production. "I'm a big fan of motion capture technology that has a minimal dependence on other products to get usable results,” explained Myers. “We need to shoot, solve and render our scenes as quickly as possible and by combining these products together with LightWave in our pipeline we can do just that.”

Currently Myers and his team are working on finishing various sets shown in the first episodes of Stasys as negotiations with actors move towards completion. Once the actors are secured, the crew will begin photo scanning the actors and the CG characters will start to spring to life. "Because of the way I have set things up with our motion-capture pipeline I can have a an entire episode of mocap ‘in the can’ for the body movements before the actors even sign on, leaving critical moves for scenes until later or filling in holes if required,” declared Myers. “It's a great solution and I can only consider doing this because of how well LightWave works with data from other sources. It is the center of Stasys,” he continued. “I can't wait to show the teaser and the first episode that are slated for later this year."

The first Stasys teaser is planned for October with the first episode appearing in December 2012. Follow the production at www.stasys.tv.