Inventive animation shows sports in a whole new way

This week the CG industry's great and good have been gathering in LA for Siggraph, the annual gathering of global animators, and where the best work from 2014-15 has been honoured in the Computer Animation Festival Awards.

And it's not just the Pixars and the Framestores who got recognition at Siggraph. This year, German motion designer and 3D artist Felix Deimann has won the Best in Show award for his experimental thesis project 'Citius, Altius, Fortius', which explores the interplay of abstract shapes and motions (check it out above).

The animation represents movements of famous Olympians, which have been digitalised into 3D through motion tracking and rotoscoping from original footage. The movements of the athletes have been recreated frame by frame, and the specific character of each sport is reflected in the visual language and the illustration of its motions.

We caught up with Deimann, who's currently working for WOODBLOCK in Berlin, to find out more...

What inspired you to make this animation?

Because I'm a huge sports fan I had this loose idea of dealing with great moments in sports for my graduation project. After researching and watching hours of videos on the internet I became to realize how much of an effect sports have on our culture and every day life.

Sports moves and unites millions of people and the biggest moments in sports get so iconic that they become part of the collective conscience. Nearly everybody has a detailed memory of some moment in sports.

The animation represents movements of famous Olympians, digitalised into 3D

I wanted to trigger these memories and show the specific character of the respective sport. That's why I adopted camera angles and rotoscoped all movements and didn't take random footage but focused on great athletes.

How did you go about making it?

Except for the dream team all sequences had the same workflow after rnd and look developement. I got footage of the athlete and made an edit. I tracked the movement of the cameras or recreated it by hand whenever nescessary. Then I blocked out the enviroment to get an idea of the position of the athlete.

Rotoscoping the most important joints got me nulls which were the base for the different setups and rigs.

The movements of the athletes have been recreated frame by frame

My docent Christoph Grosse Hovest supervised the whole process and was a great help and inspiration. The score is by the incredible talented Kreng. Except for those two, I worked on it by myself.

What do you think made it stand out and win an award?

I'm not sure why the jury chose my film but I'm really grateful they did. I hope that they liked it for its unique concept and style. At best they were curious what they were seeing with every new sequence and then got carried away after realizing it.

What did you learn from this project?

First of all I learned a lot about what is important for me and what my goals are while working on personal projects. And even more important I learned to keep going and push through because it's worth the effort.

How important are awards to you?

For me personaly festivals and awards have been a huge help. I got the oportunity to travel to great places and meet a lot of great people.

The specific character of each sport is reflected in the visual language and the illustration of its motions

For young professionals like me it's a good way to get connected with people from the industry.

Does a certain type of work tends to get overlooked in awards ceremonies?

Of course there are works who deserve more attention. But in general I think it depends on the preferences of the juries of the respective festivals. Despite winning Siggraph, my film didn't even get invited to a lot of other festivals. In my opinion there is always a little luck involved.

If you hadn't won, who would you have liked to have got this award?

I think there were a lot of great projects in the last year which would have deserved to win. For me the most memorable one wouldn't fit to the Siggraph Computer Animation Festival. It is a live action music video for Rag'N'Bone Man's Hell Yeah by Truman & Cooper. I love its unique storytelling, great acting and intensity.

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