Culture 6 min. read

To Mocap it off...

We’re always up to something interesting here in the TRIXTER studios.

While the pandemic has certainly changed the framework for crew events, we’re still an enthusiastic, tight-knit group.

Over the past year, we’ve become well-versed in online team yoga on Thursdays (working from “Om” office), life drawing sessions via Zoom, and we even formed a socially-distanced company orchestra for the holidays. However, let’s face it: When it comes to hands-on training, nothing quite compares to an in-person knowledge exchange. Especially when cool hardware is involved.

So, when our friends at X-Filme recently invited us back to collaborate with them for the upcoming Kangaroo Chronicles 2 (The Kangaroo Conspiracy), we hopped at the chance. Several members of our Munich HQ descended upon our Berlin studio for a weeklong, in-person workshop. The subject? How to use a motion-capture (aka. Mocap) suit by Xsens to create dazzling animation & VFX, both on-set and behind the scenes.

Above, Production Assistant Emine shows off the full Xsens suit and HMC (head-mounted camera).

Below, We’re getting suited up and ready for business. 

Over the last few years, motion-capture technology has become an important part of our animation pipeline here at TRIXTER. Most recently, our mocap-assisted animation and VFX work for 2020’s German-language hit The Kangaroo Chronicles netted our team a German Film Prize (Lola Award) and a Bavarian Film Prize. (Sehr gut, ja?). With more features and capabilities being introduced all the time, motion-capture has seemingly limitless potential to capture the full range of human (and animal) movement.

Complete with shiny new-to-us features (hello, hand & facial recognition!) and a palpable giddiness at actually being physically together again (… with Covid-tests, masks, and distance, natürlich), we sat down with several of our test rats— we mean, teammates— for a debrief on what made this week’s workshop extra special.


Claudius Urban, Animation Supervisor

“The main point of this workshop was to share learnings about performance capture hardware and software at TRIXTER. Having been heavily involved in the mocap animation we did in the original Kangaroo Chronicles, I led the workshop to bring newer team members into the fold and to help refresh the memories of more experienced ones as well.

As we want to use as much of the performance as possible from live actors on-set for The Kangaroo Conspiracy, we’ve given our workflows a major overhaul and upgrade. This means we’re taking the bold leap from body motion-capture (“mocap”) to full performance capture: recording not just the body movements of our actors, but also the fingers and face! The full range of human emotion and gesture spectrum is now at our disposal. For science. Furthermore, all of the attendees to the workshop were being specifically trained to be able to provide needed hardware & software expertise to clients on-set.”

Andrew Weichselfelder – VFX Coordinator

“It’s now my second time being on a production with our motion-capture setup, but with one major difference: Now I’m leading the team for the first time! It’s been a great experience, we have a lot of fun with this new HMC (head-mounted camera) setup, and so far we’re making excellent progress with promising results. I’m glad to report that we are definitely well-prepared for the upcoming first few days of on-set shooting. :-)”

Emine Yesilkaya – Production Assistant

“It was actually my very first week at TRIXTER and I’ve already learned a lot – the Xsens  hardware & software was completely new to me, so this workshop has been very helpful. It was a really great experience to meet more of the team, learn about these techniques, and to prepare for the upcoming shoot! For someone like me, who worked in another Department before, it was pretty tough at the beginning (certainly a sharp learning curve), but over the course of the week, I quickly adapted and really got into it. I am amazed at how everything works… it’s fascinating technology.”


Fridtjof Kühn – Animation TD

“Since I belong to the B-Team, I wasn’t actually in the studio for the workshop every day, but I still had a great impression of the week. I was familiar with the tech from previous encounters, but I was nervous to see whether we’d be able to suck up all the little “Gotchas!” and “a-ha!” moments in such a short time frame.

Needless to say, I’ve been very impressed by the motivation of the team and how quickly everyone seems to have caught up. Seeing how each of them has already overcome the obstacles and conquered the variety of challenges we’ve encountered has given me full confidence that we have a great crew for the job ahead.

One funny moment from the week was realizing that the on-set audio guy had to find a place for his on-actor audio equipment in addition to the zillions of pieces and batteries that we’d already attached to him (think Batman’s gadget belt). It must have felt pretty awkward for the actor, who had to uncomfortably wedge the gear into a tiny pocket, but he just kept saying ‘Oh don’t you worry, it’s all good, so excited to see all the cool tech you’ve loaded me up with’. Talk about a team player!

…But of course, let’s see if he still sees it this way after weeks of 10-hour shooting days…”

Jurica Fejer- IT Support Engineer

“From the IT perspective, one of our main goals of the workshop was to set up the mobile wifi which we were bringing on-set, successfully connect all of the various mocap devices to it, and properly configure static IP addresses. Let’s just say, these were definitely not small tasks.

The week had only just begun when we noticed some issues already in our first round of tests on Monday morning. There were some overall network performance challenges which were caused by all of our devices connecting to 2.4Ghz wifi. After some careful reshuffling and then setting everything up on 5Ghz, we were up and running smoothly.

With that challenge in the past, the rest of the tests we did in the studio (and outside around Berlin) were great, and the results looked quite promising for the test shoot on Friday. There were some interesting plot twists during the test shoot on Friday, when we got on set and saw the extent of the wireless setup that the camera and sound crew were using (think dozens of devices and antennas, plus a repeater… all connected at 5Ghz just like ours), which made things tricky with our wifi. However, we overcame it with some careful maneuvering. An interesting but achievable challenge for our IT team!”


Are you interested in working with Team TRIXTER?

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With peace, love, and VFX,


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