At Gameship, a top-notch multimedia studio, we have state-of-the-art equipment in the field of motion capture, 3D rendering, audio and video. We offer businesses the opportunity to use these facilities, if necessary with support from our own professionals. At our studio companies will find at their disposal a professional-standard motion capture- and film studio together with a control room; equipment includes more than twenty Vicon T160 and T40 cameras, six Full HD Sony XD cams, and a RED One camera. In addition, we can provide audio- and video editing rooms, a render farm and a CAREN platform.
Education is something we feel very strongly about at Gameship, so we like to give students a chance to work together with our professionals in this technology. Students from NHL University and from Friesland College are currently making good use of this collaboration.
What does Business Busters Noord have to say about us? See below for the article on Gameship (July 2010)
Gaming techniques widely employed by Gameship
REACH YOUR GOALS
Text: Christine Pietersen | Business Busters noord
The TV programme 'Pavlov – why am I the way I am?' examined the question why top gymnast Epke Zonderland is more successful than his brother Herre. That Epke is supposedly fearless was exposed as a myth: he does know fear but is better at pushing these feelings aside than Herre. Gameship recorded their high bar exercises in 3D.
Behind the façade of a monumental historic canal house at the Willemskade in Leeuwarden can be found one of the biggest and most advanced game- and animation studios in the Netherlands: Gameship. The name derives from the word spaceship and refers to a new world and a new future. Although the name Gameship seems to imply that we concern ourselves exclusively with games, in reality these form only a part of our total range of services and products.
Combining movement and games
'Just as in the days when Internet was first introduced, we too, have to explain frequently how and to what purpose you can use games,' says general manager Thijs Helferich. 'An example: many people have their own fitness equipment at home, usually in the bedroom. During exercising the curtains stay closed, because it looks absolutely ridiculous of course. Also these appliances are deadly boring, more often than not. Provide them, however, with elaborate displays on which you can track your achievements and suddenly they become much more interesting. The next day you might not feel particularly motivated to exercise, but you do like to see if you can improve your scores. That is the most important element in gaming; why not apply that in e.g. the field of care? Recently we had people in a nursing home train with a contraption devised to prevent falls. It spews out all kinds of snakes which you have to tap with your feet. If you manage that, the snake disappears and you build up a score. It turned out people liked the combination of movement and games immensely. Gameship is, in fact, not unlike a goodyshop: everything is possible here. We have a motion capture studio where we record movement and translate it to realistic 3D models. With the aid of more than twenty Vicon T160 and T40 cameras. We use MoCap not just for animations, but for scientific problems in biometrics and ergonomics as well.'
Making it to the finish
Another room accommodates the high-tech rehabilitation system CAREN. CAREN, short for Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment, employs a virtual environment to help patients in rehabilitation. The middle of the room contains a round platform capable of moving in six directions. The subject takes place on this platform, his body covered with markers that can reflect the light from various light sources. A game is then started on a large projection screen. The subject may, for instance, stand on the prow of a ship and has to try and make it to the finish by way of various buoys. By moving his feet on the platform he can make the ship go faster or slower, or turn around the buoys. Sensors pick up the reflected light and send these data to a computer. The computer then creates a motion capture, a reproduction of the moving body. This application is used a lot in rehabilitation and with people who are having to get accustomed to wearing a leg prosthesis.
For the fans: Gameship has at its disposal a video studio with six full-HD cameras and a high-tech sound studio with fully computerized Pro Tools HD8 and D-control. In addition we have a render farm: a cluster of computers built to render computer-generated imagery (CGI) for film, animation and video. The computers calculate how to optimally combine three-dimensional images with text, light and sound. And let's not forget the room with fifty iMacs equipped with cutting-edge software such as Maya and 3ds Max for students to make use of.
What we need is a centre for students and businesses to work together on multimedia-, animation- and simulation-techniques, was in 2008 the idea of a group of teachers from the department of Communication & Multimedia Design at NHL University of Applied Sciences. NHL University found willing participants in the Province of Fryslân, the municipality of Leeuwarden, the NOM, theFactor.e and Motek BV. Together they lodged a grant application with the SNN ( North Netherlands Partnership). With financial aid from the European Fund for Regional Development (Dutch: EFRO) Gameship BV was founded and a start could be made with the radical renovation of the premises. Founder and creative director of theFactor.e, Thijs Helfrich, was appointed general manager in August 2010. Since October 2010 the building has been fully operational.
180 degrees Virtual Voyage
Thijs Helfrich: 'With this equipment we may make various productions. In addition we devise contraptions ourselves. To mention just one example: together with a builder of mosques and theFactor.e we designed an iDome for the presentation of Fryslan Marketing at Utrecht Holiday Fair. This iDome consisted of a gigantic iglo so to speak, in which a video was shown that took visitors on a virtual 180 degrees voyage through Friesland.
No time for research anymore
Thijs Helfrich organizes workshops and seminars on the Gameship premises to allow businesses to acquaint themselves with the new technologies and multimedia. 'There is still a lot people don't know about these matters. Besides, it frightens some people to see how fast these developments go. There is no time for research anymore nowadays. In the domains of care and education, in particular, a noticeable change is taking place. New developments used to be extensively researched before they were implemented. Now you might spend years on thinking how to reduce the book load for first-graders, but why not just give them an iPad and see what happens?'
Going with the consumer flow
'I started out in the internet business myself, where worldwide chaos rules and new directions are continually devised. If such a direction proves a fabulously good idea, it will work. Facebook was not developed because someone commissioned it. It just came into being, and if such a thing is powerful, there will be a market for it. The current trend is to focus more on how to expand existing consumer products such as iPad, iPhone or Android with new software. Thus you go with the consumer flow while eliminating the need to bring millions of new appliances on the market.'
The young have a different way of looking
Thijs Helfrich is of the opinion that Gameship has a lot to offer companies. 'Every manager should occasionally ask his children how they think he should deal with certain issues. You can't expect children to come up with a full-blown plan, but they are certainly capable of delivering tough judgements. Show them your company's website and they'll probably've had it after three pages. Today's young people have a different way of looking. It's more of an experience to them; they are capable of doing lots of things fast and simultaneously. In former days, if you wanted to sell somebody a car for 50,000 euro, you could spin a yarn about the engine performance. Nowadays a car must have an iPod connection, or it won't sell. It's a new market. What we do is having entrepreneurs think about their company's strong points; with gaming elements we can make customers stay on their website longer.
No step-by-step salary plan
What we have here is a superb breeding ground for talent. Some selection at the gate takes place; if you come here to see if you can hold a camera, you're at the wrong address. We are looking for people who really go for it and are aware of the fantastic quality of the equipment they can work with here. Attitudes have changed, though. When I started out as a freelancer a long time ago, I was allowed to do a small assignment for Ogilvie's, the leading advertising agency. Setting foot in that company I was practically jumping up and down, I was so thrilled. Here people sometimes walk around with a camera worth several thousands of euros without any sense of its value, as if it is the commonest thing in the world. We are on the lookout for entrepreneurial talent and that at times proves to be something of a quest. But I am positive about this generation. Today's young people choose what catches their interest or entertains them and don't have a step-by-step salary plan. Making a career for oneself in this business is, after all, not the same as in a lawyer's office. Just as in music or the arts, it is frequently a long way.'
Mathematics and music; two sides of the same coin
Thijs Helfrich knows what he is talking about. Up until he was twenty-eight he studied history and in-between was a singer in the band Weekend at Waikiki. 'I think my studies formed the perfect preparation for the line of work I am in now. History teaches you that great amounts of data will bring about something, which in its turn will lead to new insights. Music allows creativity a lot of room, but is also an exact science. In mediaeval times mathematics and music were two sides of the same coin. Similarly to mathematics, music can be reasoned and written out. In the world of music it's not just sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. As a musician you may travel all over the world and perform in front of large groups of people. Skill, quality, experience and passion are easily communicated to people. At least, if you are really serious about it. That's what I learned in those days and I think it's only natural that I still practice this today.