Digital Zapotec Tombs

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Motion Tracking

Motion tracking was introduced to me by a Professor of the Physics Department. He showed me a clip of an attempt he made at using motion tracking in Blender. Ellen and I both looked at each other and thought how cool it would be if we would put our 3D objects in a video that we would film in one of the tombs when we arrive at the site. We couldn’t get in to tomb 104 but tomb 118 was open and looked fairly close to tomb 104 (although missing two additional niches at the end of the tomb in the corners). So although we don’t match the tomb with the right objects we wanted to have a sample video of an option that can be used to display our ideas for future plans.

The process is called motion tracking because essentially you are tracking the motion of the camera so that you can reproduce a virtual camera in a 3D animation program such as Blender or C4D. I opted to using Blender instead of C4D because the version I was using didn’t have that tool integrated yet. Blender was an option that was readily available. The way to accomplish this is to fill your shot sequence with tracking markers that are boxes that you can place on distinct locations of a shot and follow it through out it’s appearance in the whole shot sequence. There is an auto tracking feature but it’s not really good, for my footage at least, but you have more control over the solve error when manually placing markers. The solve error is just a score you get that tells you wether the markers are good or not, and it’s good when it gets a score between 0 and 3. You can achieve that when you are sure that the markers are doing a consistent job of following the location in the shot you gave it. After getting a low enough solve error score you have the ability to set a floor plane, set or change parameters of the 3D space to the camera, and add objects.

I accomplished this motion tracking method using an iPhone 6 camera and my camera move was tilting vertically. From this experience I learned that using a good quality camera and filming using different camera moves would have helped in the editing phase. Even though my approach did not give me the quality or many options that utilized different camera moves the outcome was better than what I expected and the experience was priceless!

–Arturo Hernández Jr., Cornell College ’16



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