Motion capture on the cheap

Still doing planning/etc for my studio setup in the new year. I’ve been trying to think about motion capture. The basic tech behind it doesn’t seem too complicated - camera(s), shiny lights on the motion actors suit, and some software.

So, is it harder than I think? I know some dev studios have “motion capture studios” and it’s somewhat of a big deal, but I’m not really seeing it. What am I missing? Is rolling your own motion capture a big deal?

My uneducated guess: something is patented, so it’s almost impossible to make money creating software that can properly interpret the “dots” created by reflective panels, as recorded in a movie file.

However, there’s probably some half-assed open source timewaster knockoff out there that might be worth tinkering with. But I think your problem will be the conversion process from a movie file of the subject > movement data in your matrix.

Some googling post-posting of this found a few software solutions, but unfortunately all of them are “Contact us for a price!” Which means, “We’ll fuck you hard!” as far as I know.

MoCap, as far as I understand it, definitely falls into the heavy amoritization category. Unless you have a lot of money, or you’re going to be doing a bunch of it, it’s best to hire an animator.

I’be been told that much of the expense of mocap is in cleaning up the data and getting it ready to use.

I found this which might be worth while looking into… coming from Alias though you’re probably up for big bucks for the full thing. :?

edit: Just checked and it’s $995. ( Which isn’t that much I guess )

Correct, there is generally a hell of a lot of post-processing and cleanup needed on mocap. It doesn’t do away with the need for experienced animators.

I’m going to be in a hiring situation for animators/modellers/whatever in the next few months. Would you say that animation is specialized enough that I should be looking to seperate the modeller/animator roles?

It entirely depends on the people you get. There are some artists that can do the whole package, modeling, skin painting and animation. Or two of the three. However, things are getting more and more specialized so it isn’t uncommon to have modeling, skinning and animation broken out between three different people.

Talented character modelers are worth their weight in gold. Animators in gold pressed latinum.

Agreed. A lot of 3d artists these days are focusing on one skill over the rest instead of being jack-of-all-trades types because that’s what the industry seems to want. So you might get a guy that’s really great at animation but sort of lacks in the other areas (modelling, textures, lighting and rigging). I myself really don’t like texturing and sadly it shows in my work, I do really enjoy animation and so far that seems to be where I’m strongest.

If you can afford to get people that are strong in each area than I’d say go for it. If not then I’d grab someone that is strong in modelling and animation with a decent set of skills with textures (rigging and lighting aren’t really important unless you’re doing pre-rendered movies IMO).