Motion Capture Process

Fast Turnaround Animation Production

Motion Capture is a technique used to record digital performances. Also known as Mocap, it records the entire movement of an actor from different angles, gathering all the data into a digital skeleton. This raw data is used to drive the movements of a digital character in a virtual environment.

 A Motion Capture recording studio consists on a large room with infrared cameras mounted at different heights, which capture and track the movement of the optical system markers attached to the performer’s body.

In the entertainment industry, movies like Avatar use Motion Capture to capture the subtleties of a performance (face and body) into their digital 3D characters. Without Mocap, we would have 3D animated performances that may seem robotic and stale, especially when dealing with photo-realistic rendering.

Another great advantage of using Motion Capture is the fast-turnaround it offers in the production pipeline of digital content production. There are still post production processes involved such as Clean-up and Motion Editing, but with the right pipeline in place, the performer puts on the suit and the performance is recorded. A great advantage, is that it can be viewed any angle afterwards.

Our team has been using Motion Capture for the past few years as a fundamental part of our production pipeline for VR and AR applications. With our previous experience in 3D Animation, we were seeking a different approach to speed our production process and with our collaboration and research partnership with AUT University, we have been able to master Faceware for facial performance capture as well as Motion Analysis for body performance capture.

Facial performance capture consists on mounting a head rig onto the performer with a tiny camera attached. The captured video is used by the computer tracking system, to look for similar facial expressions to those built previously on the digital character. After the process is complete, the performance is automated into the 3D character automatically.

The body performance capture consists on accurately designating the physical motion capture markers (white balls) attached to the performer’s suit, to the points on the virtual skeleton. Once the virtual skeleton is synced with the performer’s movements, we can see the performance in real time.

Post production often involves the process of Clean-up, in case trackers got mixed up throughout the performance in virtual space. Once it’s had a few passes, we take the performance into Motion Editing. The performance can be tweaked in Motion Builder for further refinements, for instance if the characters have to lift objects or interact with virtual environments.

Overall, Motion Capture helps us speed our process and keep our team small and agile. It’s the future of performance capture beyond traditional video recording and 360° Video Capture; both of which are pre-rendered and flat. Mocap is also more versatile than photogrammetry performance capture, because computer generated characters are reaching a higher level of realism in the games and visual effects industry in recent years. We are able to create a library of Mocap animations which trigger certain performances using artificial intelligence.


What is Motion Capture?

Facial Animation

Retargetting to 3D Models



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