Using Motion Capture in 3D Animation Pipelines - Part 3

Types of motion capture systems

Setting up your animation pipeline starts with determining which motion capture system you plan to use. 

A camera system like OptiTrack or Vicon uses high-speed cameras and reflective markers to capture the movement of objects or people in 3D space with high precision and accuracy. The markers are attached to the object or person being tracked, and the cameras track the markers in real-time. While this system outputs highly precise data, camera tracking is usually specific to one production location due to long set-up times.

On the other hand, a wearable mocap system uses inertial sensors to capture and track the movements of the body, such as with Rokoko and Xsens. The body suit is equipped with a number of small, lightweight sensors that contain accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers. 

Hand capture systems, such as Xsens Gloves by Manus, can also be paired with the suit to get precise finger and hand movements when needed. Unlike other systems that require a dedicated studio space with multiple cameras, Xsens is easily transported and used on location.

For capturing facial movements and expressions, Faceware is a wearable headset that captures the facial expression of an actor, such as movement of the eyebrows or the opening and closing of the mouth. The data collected from Faceware can be applied to a 3D rigged character in real-time or in post-production.

For a more cost-effective and accessible solution for facial capture, some indie directors and artists are using iPhone’s new facial tracking system, ARKit, which can track up to 52 unique facial expressions as well as head movements.

The combination of body, facial, and hand motion capture can create a complete performance that accurately captures the full range of human movement and expression. This makes it a powerful tool for film and video game production, virtual reality experiences, and other applications that require realistic and immersive character animation.

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