A December 1993 Christmas party, thrown by NewTek (the company that owns and markets the LightWave 3D software), provided a key moment for overcoming the Star Trek producers' resistance to CGI, when Stipes met the animators of Amblin Imaging. Amblin's John Gross recalled, "David was always interested in getting 3-D incorporated into Star Trek. He saw the benefits of that probably before many of the other producers over there did. And so we invited him over here and showed him the facility and when Voyager came up he saw the opportunity to get this stuff involved. He and Dan Curry came by and we talked about what we can do and showed them some examples and eventually we gave them a bid to build a virtual Voyager." To prove their skills, Gross and Grant Bouchet took some stock footage of a Maquis raider with the accompanying motion control data, provided by the studio, and added some CGI ships. They matched flight movements so perfectly that Star Trek producers were unable to distinguish between the physical models and CGI models. Vice-President John Parenteau related further, "That meant a lot to Dan Curry, because Dan was weary. I think he had some bad experiences with CGI in the past and didn't feel it was quite there yet. But when we turned out their flight tests and people couldn't tell the difference, Dan started to realize that maybe we have finally conquered whatever barrier there had been before." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 27, No. 4/5, p. 80)
A far more advanced variation of digitizing, called roto-animation, applied to Humans or even animals, is still employed in the motion picture industry. This variation registers the natural movement of actual living beings by utilizing so-called "motion capture suits", stand-in performers wore during life filming, digitally recording the movements they made. The movement data thus gathered is subsequently in post-production digitally imbued into the CGI models of, typically, alien lifeforms, in order to give them more natural looking on-screen movement. Well-known examples of CGI lifeforms being animated this way are the Jar-Jar Binks character from the Star Wars franchise, and the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings franchise. In the Star Trek franchise, the Enterprise Xindi-Insectoids (X), Gorn and Tholian were animated using roto-animation. VFX Producer Dan Curry has designed the motion capture suits for the aliens featured in the Enterprise episodes. (ENT Season 4 DVD-special features, "Inside the "Mirror" Episodes"; "Visual Effects Magic")
Once a model was built, the finished model was loaded into dedicated software, embedded into modules of a larger software package or not, for mapping, lighting, and animation (imbuing the CGI model with movement), a process referred to as rendering and (computer) animation (if the software was part of a larger software package: loaded into a rendering engine). The term "rendering" is often incorrectly used, by laymen in particular, to describe the whole creation process of a CGI effect, whereas it is only meant to describe the frame-by-frame mapping and lighting stage, animation often considered a separate stage. Rendering and animation was the process of building up the CGI image in every single frame of a sequence and was, given the state of the technology in the early days, a time consuming process, requiring massive amounts of computer processing power, which still came at a premium those days, both in terms of time and cost. This was especially true because each building stage, as indicated earlier, had to be completed in different software packages at the time. It was only with the later versions of LightWave or Maya that the whole process became integrated within a single software package. One of the earliest Star Trek CGI sequences, that of the time warp effect in The Voyage Home, though only about thirty seconds long, took weeks to render. (Industrial Light & Magic: Into the Digital Realm, p. 113) Even ten years later, at the time of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, computer technology was still at a state, that multiple computer units were necessary to speed up the process. Digital Muse's John Gross explained:
While this has few ramifications for the TNG remastering project, simply because so few CGI was used for this production, it might have not bode well, cost-wise, for possible remastered versions of DS9, and VOY in particular, the latter having been Foundation's primary assignment. Recreating the later seasons of these productions in High-Definition is especially daunting, as it not only concerns the recreation of the CGI effects themselves, but also the recreation of these effects in movement in the guise of motion-control data files, increasing the level of difficulty exponentially (the massive, intricate Deep Space Nine battle scenes in particular), unless Lebowitz' happenstance occurred that "the content may have been saved by artists who worked on the series, but it would have to be tracked down."
This pricing is much higher than typical low cost outdoor IR cameras, however, which sell for as low as $100-150 for 720p or even 1080p models, and which provide identifying details the TCX does not (though with higher risk of false and missed VMD activations).
These differences are further emphasized in the video below, showing the TCX compared to a 1080p bullet camera with our subject in motion. He becomes moderately easier to discern as human due to his movements, but still difficult, and with little detail.
The TCX worked poorly with Avigilon's analytics, running on a Rialto I4. Detection performance was reduced by ~50' distance/25' HFOV seen in the images below. Because the Rialto classifies objects as human using geometry and movement characteristics, it was unable to determine these using the low resolution TCX video until the subject is nearer, while the TCX's internal VMD simply looks for pixel changes. 2b1af7f3a8