Motion Capture at Home
Updated: May 21
In my senior year, as I've mentioned a few times, I was desperate for a job and doing everything in my power to improve my portfolio. One of the things I decided to invest my time in was motion capture (it ended up being a great decision and it got me a job).
Knowing the basics of motion capture and how to clean it made a world of difference when I was trying to get hired.
My first at-home setup used a software called iPi Soft and two Xbox Kinect sensors. It gave me some pretty decent results for something that was done at home, although I had to clean it up substantially later. Still very impressive to show our professors during game presentations LOL
This is a capture using that setup. My team used the Unreal A.R.T. plug-in which comes with a mocap retargeting tool for Maya. Can you tell I was excited to see it was working??
Last I checked the kinect has been discontinued, but you can still make it work with a few Logitech webcams.
After my initial experiment with iPi Soft, I found out that my school actually had mocap equipment. They """gave it""" to another institute of technology because we didn't have space to keep it. It was an markerless mocap* setup called Organic Motion, and I fought tooth and nail to gain access to it. It's not like they didn't want us to use it, there was just a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy to go through >:^(
In the end I finally managed to use it for some animations in our senior game. The bulk of the work was the retargeting and cleanup in MotionBuilder. (I might do a separate post explaining how use MotionBuilder, it's too much to add to this post.)
Here's some capture tests and a "stagger" animation I captured for our senior game:
The beginning of this video shows the mocap in our ending cinematic. It's very amateurish and honestly pretty bad; it required a lot of cleanup, but still taught me enough about mocap to get me a job ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
If you're unable to get a mocap setup of your own, I highly recommend learning how to retarget and clean it up in MotionBuilder. There are many online resources with raw mocap data for download.
I'll try to make another post about it sometime.
There are many ways to capture motion data. Markerless is only one of them.
Markerless: the capture software uses an algorithm that identifies a humanoid figure in the footage and spits out a skeleton with the motion on it.
With Markers: markers are placed on the actors and the capture cameras/software create data based on those.
Other: there are mocap setups that use suits (I believe that's what Silent Hill games used back in the day) ; some use magnetism or even accelerometers! There's a lot of different techniques.