March 16, 2012

Anatomy of a Trapeze

The “Motion Capture” class in the Zemeckis Center Suspends Stunt Performer

On the script page, “She dives through the air and PHASES through multiple floors” seems simple enough. To the trained director, line producer or VFX supervisor, these words are a nightmare. In Eric Furie’s CTAN 565L class, Motion Capture Performance, these words were a challenge, but not impossible thanks to the technology in the Robert Zemeckis Center’s Motion Capture Stage. On March 15th, Furie’s students suspended an actress from a trapeze rig to capture an action sequence as part of a student's final project.

Motion Capture performer suspended from wiresTimothy Wen (Left) directs the stunt team in the Performance Capture Lab in the Robert Zemeckis Center

“Eric [Furie] encourages us to be as ambitious as we can be while still being achievable,” said production student Timothy Wen, who served as director for the project. “I wanted to do something that I couldn’t do in live action. It’s my goal to work in pre-visualization and now I can say I designed an action sequence that would have costed me four million dollars to do in live action.”

The sequence involved the help of Bill Leaman's stunt team and was captured by the motion capture lab’s 46 cameras. The stage is in the top ten in terms of Vicon cameras and is available for use for students in all of SCA’s divisions.

“This is why I came to USC,” continued Wen. “To learn the bleeding edge technology that the industry is using today from teachers like Eric Furie. 565L gives us a new and very literal meaning to ‘reality ends here.’”

For more information, please visit:

Anatomy of a Trapeze View the Anatomy of a Trapeze Photo Gallery »