Love them or hate them, ZEPETO music videos probably aren’t going anywhere any time soon. But how do the creators make those animations look so smooth? In a new behind-the-scenes clip, ITZY showed off how these animated videos come to life.
Since K-Pop choreography is often pretty complex—particularly when it comes to pro-dance groups like ITZY—the moves are relatively difficult to animate by hand. So, instead of painstakingly recreating the dances for songs like “Not Shy” and BLACKPINK‘s “Ice Cream”, ZEPETO uses a modern form of technology called motion capture.
Motion capture has been used in video games like Detroit: Become Human and movies like Avatar for years, but now it’s coming to the K-Pop. The technology allows animators to record the movements and actions of real humans and import them into a 2D or 3D space.
Specifically, ZEPETO uses a motion capture system called OptiTrack. To make it work, the ITZY members had to dress up in mocap (motion capture) suits. These black, skintight garments are covered from head to toe in markers that track the movements of each member as they dance.
Once they donned the mocap suits, the ITZY members were instructed to start performing their routine as they normally would.
As they danced, the software recorded their every move on basic 3D models.
With high-tech systems like OptiTrack, motion capture can even be viewed in real-time. Just look at how impressed Yeji and Yuna were when they saw their movements being tracked.
They definitely had their fun with the system.
Once everything is recorded, the movements can then be mapped to the members’ virtual avatars. These avatars were created using the ZEPETO app, which allows users to make their own 3D characters and inhabit a digital world.
Next, the models are finalized and the camera angles are changed to make the performance more exciting. Since all the movements are already recorded, the animators are free to adjust angles, lighting, and more at the click of a button.
Of course, there’s more to a ZEPETO music video than just dancing. The animators also have to create hundreds of 3D props and style them on a background to improve the music video’s look.
Once everything comes together—from staging to focus adjustment—you can really see how much effort the ZEPETO team put into making everything perfect.
And when you see the ITZY members dancing side by side with their avatars, you’ll finally get why those animations are so smooth.
ZEPETO’s motion capture software can even be used to bring avatars and human idols together. Perhaps this is a glimpse into the future of the K-Pop world as we know it.
Watch the full “Not Shy” English version music video making for yourself here: