This month’s VJ loop reward on Patreon is BodyForm, let it form before you:

Available On Patreon

BodyForm features four VJ loops showcasing a dancing character backlit from behind. The light wrapping around the character defines its outlines and enhances its curves. You’ll receive two dances captured from both frontal and side perspectives, enabling you to mix and match them in creative ways. These clips are exclusively available to superfans on Patreon until the end of February.

As always, the real magic happens in the VJing process. Superfans receive a bonus Resolume Arena project, offering various loop variations, shape backgrounds and everything laid into columns for easy mixing. More on that in the project overview video below.

Resolume Arena Project

I took the 4 VJ loops, used mirror and cloner effects to duplicate the characters in fun and interesting ways. I intentionally designed the characters to be lit from behind – so any geometric shape I add behind them can seems like it’s the source of light and blend seamlessly into the composition. The simple geometric shapes also function as a design element – contrasting the character’s curvatures, and when the characters are cloned in a circular or square array they fit the shapes perfectly. I also added some colouring options to give you a hint of how you can colour your whole set according to the lights or mood you wanna create.

As always, I built everything into columns – so you could trigger whole columns and instantly get a mesmerizing mix, or trigger different clips in different columns to create a continuous mix.

Creation Process

The allure of body motion has always captivated me. I delved into this subject with the TeaseMe VJ loops pack, and as I continue exploring characters, this reward became inevitable.

BodyForm was created using a 3D character from Daz3D that was brought into Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) and then animated with motion capture data.

I wanted to have a very basic human character because I planned to discard any skin materials and apply my own materials later. I chose Daz3D because I had some experience with it while creating the Cyborgasm & TeaseMe packs back in the day. Also, it turned out that getting a naked character in the Unreal Engine marketplace is a no-go. In Daz Studio, I created a very basic character based on Victoria 9. To transfer it to UE5, I used Daz’s own Daz To Unreal free plugin. Once I had the character in UE5, I retargeted an existing UE running animation onto my character just to test the waters. It worked.

I then imported the Motion Capture (mocap) animations into UE5 and retargeted them to my character. Retargeting was a new thing I had to learn, and after watching many tutorials, I can recommend this masterclass by Rokoko to save you time. Retargeting worked quite well, but because the original mocap skeleton had different proportions from my Daz3D skeleton, I still had some issues with the feet sliding on the floor when they should have been planted. It seemed that this could be solved with a Foot Planting technique explained in this tutorial, but applying this method added some stiffness to the mocap animation. As the reward’s release was nearing, I decided that I preferred a flexible mocap animation over a stiff one. I later found out that there were some steps I could take to ease the stiffness, as described in this UE documentation – which I plan to test soon.

I tested applying different materials to my character and decided to go with a dark, somewhat reflective material. To light the character and emphasize its outlines, I placed a square light just behind it and sized it quite a bit so that the light from behind would wrap around the character’s outline.

I had to loop the mocap animation, and this turned out to be an easy and fun task as UE5 has the option to duplicate the animation into another animation track. I offsetted the duplicated track forward in time and then mixed between these animation tracks by keyframing the influence of each track from 1-0 and 0-1. As long as the character is placed in the same position, it worked quite well.

I wanted to create a trail/echo effect for the character so that when it moves, it looks like there are a couple of characters one after the other. I did some tests by duplicating the character and placing the duplicates in different positions or offsetting their animations forward in time – pure fun.

I then placed a cinematic camera in front of the character and rendered out a test loop of just one plain character without all the trails/echos. I assumed I could recreate the trail/echo effect in Resolume Arena later on. I tested the loop in Resolume Arena with a bit of mirroring and cloners and was very happy with the result. To recreate the echos, I used the delay feature on the radial/linear cloners, and it worked like a charm.

I then realized that, to create a more versatile mix, I could render another shot of the character from the side perspective. I did this by simply duplicating the sequence I already had and rotating the character 90 degrees. This way, I didn’t need to move the camera or the backlight. I tested both front and side perspective loops inside Resolume Arena and could create many more compositions this way. Success.

As I had the characters backlit, I could now, inside Resolume Arena, imitate that light source by creating shapes and placing them in a lower layer. As long as the shape is big enough and the same color as the character’s light, it’ll look as if that shape layer is the source of light in the composition. I had some fun time creating different shapes with the Shape source.

In a last-minute decision, I decided to make the reward even more versatile by retargeting another mocap animation so that the character is dancing two dances from two perspectives. And this is how the four VJ loops were made.

One final touch was in the post-process, where instead of rendering the side perspectives as one character at the center, I moved it to the side and added a mirror to duplicate it into two characters. This way, it’ll be easier for a VJ who just adds the four loops in the middle of the performance to mix the front and side perspectives without needing to reposition and mirror the side perspective.

What's Next?

I already got a vision about the next rewards and it’s gonna include… a character. 

Feel free to reach out with ideas/questions via email at [email protected] or DM me on Patreon / Facebook / Instagram.

The butterfly effect is a concept within chaos theory suggesting that small, seemingly insignificant events can have far-reaching and profound consequences. I believe that every reward I create here can profoundly change the course of anyone’s VJing career. Carefully thought out, eye-catching, and mind-expanding visuals can make a difference in your Live Visuals performance. Compound it in 12 rewards a year, and you get yourself a powerful boost of fresh visuals that your audience and clients will love and talk about.