The marionettes from the past are getting the Virtual Production treatment, as a new project uses Dark Slope’s advanced motion capture techniques to give life to an upcoming animation series.
If you never imagined you would see the word marionettes in the same phrase as CGI, think again. Dark Slope, specialists in virtual reality experiences, immersive games, and motion capture-driven virtual production for television are partnering with Canadian entertainment company Little Engine Moving Pictures on a unique Virtual Production process that integrates Dark Slope’s advanced motion capture techniques into Little Engine’s innovative puppetry/animation hybrid process, developed by creator, showrunner and animator Ben Mazzotta.
This workflow is currently in production for an upcoming Little Engine Moving Pictures preschool series, and it’s nothing short of impressive, according to the information now made available. Recognized as a Realscreen Trailblazer for their impact on the scripted and unscripted industries (2023), Dark Slope is an entertainment company with a singular focus to make the impossible – possible. That’s now being used to make the classic art of puppeteering marionettes take a step into a new dimension, where green screens are set side and LED volume speaks louder.
“Dark Slope’s expertise is truly elevating our animated series through virtual production” shares Maria Kennedy, owner and EP at Little Engine Moving Pictures. “Our characters and world evolved significantly, from us puppeteering marionettes against green screen with motion-tracked faces animated in post, to real actors embodying our characters through high quality motion capture. The transformation to 3D animated characters in our 2D animated world is a real game changer.”
Recording the animation in real time
It’s not just about using technology for technology’s sake. The method used for this project benefits the quality and speed of the production, while also being more cost effective. It allows for the team to plan and iterate on how the story is told and make dynamic adjustments with the actors as they record the animation in real time. This also allows for near-final looks of the animation’s action to take place far earlier than with traditional productions.
“It is such a pleasure to work with the creative team at Little Engine Moving Pictures to help realize their vision,” shares Christine Thompson, Head of Animation Production at Dark Slope. “Dark Slope has a talented team with the know-how to match the right virtual production technology and techniques with the specific vision of the show – from motion capture for animation, to LED volume for live action content.”
Dark Slope develops genre defining television programs and unforgettable immersive games for their original IP, co-productions and clients, and the collaboration with Little Engine Moving Pictures represents another challenge that will result in a new experience for audiences of the upcoming preschool animated series developed using Dark Slope’s advanced motion capture techniques to give life to the marionettes.