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>  News Releases >   2007 >   October

Computerized dancing debuts at Dartmouth

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/04/07 • Susan Knapp • (603) 646-3661

Dancers demonstrate Dartmouth's new motion capture equipment
Dancers demonstrate Dartmouth's new motion capture equipment - their movements are translated to the computer-generated models on the screen behind them. (Photo by Lauren Wool '08)

At a public presentation on Tues., Oct. 2, dancers demonstrated Dartmouth's new MX-F40 Vicon motion capture equipment. Pictured are two members of the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, Jennifer Armstrong, with the Hopkins Center (on the left), and graduate student Emily Cross (right), and they are joined by Jonah Bokaer with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (middle). All three donned suits covered with reflective markers, and their movements were optically captured and translated to bring a computer-generated image to life.

Rachel Forman, a member of the Class of 2009 and who is pursuing a minor in digital arts, created the digital model. She worked on the process to make sure that the dancer's movements were converted correctly from a human form to that of a cartoon bird (seen on the screen behind the dancers).

"The new technology has so many applications - everything from the digital arts to sports analysis to gaming to medical uses," says Forman. "I love the combination of art and technology, both of which have always been interests of mine. As for the difficulty of the system, like anything it takes time and practice. It is an extremely powerful program and it has so much potential. I'm looking forward to learning and becoming more comfortable with motion capture." 

The computer model that Forman created is based on a pencil drawing by Merce Cunningham, the renowned dancer and choreographer. Cunningham was on campus as a Montgomery Fellow, and members of his company will perform at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts on Oct. 5 and 6. Cunningham's residency on campus is from Oct. 2-7.

This new motion capture equipment helps establish a new Digital Imaging Laboratory at Dartmouth, which has initial funding from a National Science Foundation grant. The laboratory will support research, teaching, and cross-disciplinary collaboration among the arts and the sciences. Involved are Associate Professor Hany Farid, Assistant Professors Devin Balkcom and Fabio Pellacini, and Research Assistant Professor Lorie Loeb, all of the computer science department.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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