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Polish technology with a chance to revolutionize animation production with SMODO

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It will reduce costs, shorten time spent on production and post-production,  and simplify work on the film set. The SMODO technology that is being created  in Poland has a chance to revolutionize film industry and contribute to its development.

SMODO technology has already been presented in France during MIFA 2017 dedicated  to animation and in Mexico during Pixelatl Festival where it aroused interest among the film circle.

What goes by the name SMODO is an innovative stop-motion technology which joins  the classic puppet animation with the innovative technique of motion capture. The founder of the technology is Grzegorz Wacławek, a producer and animated films director, the owner of a dynamically working studio Animoon. During his work, he was supported by a team of experienced scientists co-operating with Warsaw University of Technology specializing inter alia in 3D/4D visualizations and 3D data processing. – SMODO technology will speed up the process of stop-motion animation, it will have an influence on reducing film sets, and it will eliminate expensive lighting and reduce the costs of equipment. And all of those will make the puppet animation, so valued for its high artistic values, more available – explains Grzegorz Wacławek.

How does it work?

SMODO allows for working with the classic stop-motion animation technique and the same time benefit from the possibilities CGI gives. In the traditional puppet animation, an animator works with a puppet that represents the animation character. In every registered photo frame, the animator changes its location and position against the stage scenery by properly moving the elements of the armature hidden inside the puppet (supporting oneself with a preview on the camera used for filming the scenes) and then registers the effects by taking a picture of the puppet.

In SMODO technology, the animator works only with the puppet’s armature which shapes and moves analogically as in the classic animation. There are special colourful markers located on the puppet’s armature. Owing to the system which follows the markers, the armature’s pose is transferred to 3D software. In the programme, a digital model of a puppet is put on the armature. Consequently, the animator observes the whole puppet on the screen just as in the classic animation. Owing to the digitalization of the armature movement (which still is a handcraft), in SMODO technology it is possible to both create digital stage design (instead of pricey analogue one), freely move the camera that registers the scene and implement any changes in lighting (a camera and sources of light are virtual and set in the program for 3D edition). In SMODO technology, it is not necessary to make full puppets, the production of which is expensive.

By using SMODO technology, one can save even 25 percent of a production budget – explains Grzegorz Wacławek.  – Moreover, it is also essential that the animator can implement changes and corrections to the shots even when the expensive and time-consuming animation process is over – adds Wacławek.

The support and education for future animators

Puppet animation is valued and admired around the world; however, due to high production costs and long production time, it is not available to everyone. SMODO technology, owing to inter alia simplifying the stop-motion animation process and eliminating the necessity to construct animation puppets, will make stop-motion animation more available. The technology together with additional tools (film instructions, ready-made puppets) will allow for more attractive, faster and cheaper transferring knowledge and skills concerning the animation. Moreover, it will let people fascinated with animation, students and pupils make their own animations, which in the past was reserved for big production companies
and professionals.

One box – numerous possibilities

The works on SMODO technology has been done since 2013 and now it has reached the final phase. Owing to the funding received from The National Centre for Research and Development, the final product will be available in 2018. SMODO technology will be implemented by the production of complete sets and distributing both the sets and particular elements of the set (i.e. the sets for building the armature of various puppets).

All the elements of SMODO system (cameras for registering puppet’s movement, CGI software, system calibration tools) fit in an average size box. Special sets that will include ready-made armatures and their 3D models will be prepared for education purposes.

For additional information, please contact: Iwona Buchcic, i.buchcic@momakin.pl, +48 502 598 925

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