Congratulations to BCIT Marketing Communications’ Microsoft Motion Capture photo for winning Silver in the Best Photography category of the 2023 Prix d’Excellence Award. This award recognizes the best original photograph to appear in an institute publication.
The Microsoft Motion Capture photo appears on the front cover of the BCIT Future Student Guide 2023/2024. The Future Student Guide provides an overview of the various areas of study at BCIT, student services, campuses, application guidelines, more.
Scott McAlpine, Photographer, BCIT, was behind the camera lens to capture this image. Scott shares more details about how this photo came to together and what it represents.
Explain the Microsoft Motion Capture photo
S: This photograph reflects our close ties to industry and reputation in delivering an applied education that is rich with work-integrated learning opportunities and leads to high employment outcomes.
As one of BCIT’s industry partners is Microsoft, we reached out to a BCIT alumnus who works at Microsoft’s gaming division, The Coalition. We were able to gain access and photograph in their motion capture lab, where character movements are recorded for their Gears of War video game.
The space we used as seen in the image was incredibly aspirational to how The Coalition designs and creates video games. Game developers add realism to character motion by using motion capture technology. An actor dons a specialized suit and performs motions, and these motions are captured as a data stream and retargeted to a digital avatar. The result is more realistic character animation for both in-game loops and cutscenes. This is the element we chose to capture in our imagery.
How did this photo come together?
S: After deciding on Microsoft as one of the industry partners, the BCIT Marketing and Creative team had to decide who to feature as the alum and current student in the imagery. Location scouting was arranged and involved the creative director, photographer, and the marketing strategy team.
The challenges associated with this initiative was how to create a high technology feeling, mood lighting, yet also show the small, spherical markers used to show motion on the actor’s body suit. At the same time, we wanted to make the connection between the operator of the computer with the capture software and the actor by using a larger screen in the back that showed the actor’s motion. All this while also keeping in mind we needed to include our branding within the imagery. We managed to do all this by positioning the camera and the subjects far enough back to provide space for brand elements yet still make the scene easily readable. We lit the scene individually for the actor, the computer operator, as well as the walls to provide a blue glow – in total, using 10 small LED lights. The other challenge was getting separation of the actor from the background to highlight the movement. If we were to do anything differently, it would likely be to position the actor, so the hand has better separation. And of course, to bring a lot more batteries because by the end of the shoot, we were on the last charge for the batteries we brought along.
How does this photo reflect BCIT?
S: As one of BC’s largest post-secondary institutes, BCIT has been delivering flexible, relevant, and future-proof education that prepares students to provide applied solutions to industry challenges. Learning at BCIT is applied and team-based. This means, full-time students learn by doing and with the same group of peers throughout their educational journey. This supports developing essential soft skills for the workplace, such as collaboration.
The curriculum is industry-focused in that it is developed through close consultation with industry, and delivered by instructors who have direct, hands-on experience in their fields. BCIT also provides ample work-integrated learning opportunities for students to gain real-world industry experience and connections before they graduate. These include partnering with industry to offer co-ops, practicums, internships, Industry Sponsored Student Projects, Capstone Projects, and field experiences.
The Microsoft Motion Capture photo reflects all of those elements that uniquely differentiates BCIT.
How long have you been a photographer at BCIT? How has your role evolved?
S: I have been a photographer at BCIT for 21 years this month. Prior to that, I spent six years as a freelance photographer, photography assistant as well as spending one year as photo editor on four nationally published magazines.
My role has evolved significantly. When I started, I was doing a myriad of photography covering off everything that folks deemed photo-worthy. Now, I’m more focused on creating imagery and telling stories that will help potential students, industry, and government see what we do, how we do it, and the spaces we do it in. It allows me to do what I think is the most important aspect to image creation and one of the true joys of my job: collaborating creatively with wonderfully inspiring colleagues, faculty, and students, to get the best out of a project. This Microsoft Motion Capture photo we created was a prime example of that process.
Want to get skilled in photography?
The digital world is growing rapidly with increasing demand for skills in digital photography and manipulation. The part-time BCIT Digital Photography program provides you with skills in photo production and image optimization. The courses build your proficiency using digital cameras to capture images, and working with Adobe Photoshop to edit and optimize those images. You’ll build a solid foundation in digital photography to add to your existing professional toolbox and enhance your career as a creative professional.
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