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An Introduction to Mocap with Technicolor Games.

Simply defined, motion capture (mocap) is the technology that records the movement of people or objects to enable photorealism in a virtual environment. Mocap is widely used across the Entertainment industry, in games, films, TV and beyond.

When do we use mocap?

  • When you need real time results with a reduced keyframe animation cost
  • When there is need for a large amount of animation data to be created for game cinematics or films
  • When you need a realistic output, especially when it involves complex interactive movements

The capturing process

There are three stages to the capturing process; sensing the motion, processing the data, and storing for use when necessary. We’ll be going through the two most common capture methods:

  1. Optical motion capture

This method is used to record the movement of objects or subjects by analyzing the postitions of markers in a three-dimensional space. Reflective markers are first attached to key points on an object or subject’s body, with cameras then strategically placed around the capture area to track the positions of these markers in 3D.

This results in high precision and accuracy when capturing complex movements. The technology enables the capture of subtle details, making it particularly valuable in applications where precise movement representation is crucial, such as biomechanics research, virtual reality and animation.

Another benefit to the optical mocap system is that it provides real-time feedback, allowing users to visualize and analyze motion data immediately during a capture session. This capability is especially important in applications such as live performances and virtual production in filmmaking where instant feedback is essential.

A final point to make on this type of capturing technology, is that with advancements in camera quality, marker design and software algorithms, optical mocap will continue to evolve and improve in accuracy, and thus expand in application use.

2. Markerless motion capture

Very similar to its counterpart, this type of technology also captures and analyzes motion BUT without the need for physical markers.

One of the most notable advantages to this method, is the freedom of movement as there there are no boundaries on the staging. It also eliminates the need for markers, which can be time-consuming to place one by one on the actor or object. With this technology, you have the freedom to shoot without the need for mocap stage setup, anywhere, any time.

This is made possible because markerless mocap utilizes different technologies, such as:

  • Computer vision algorithms, whereby the cameras capture the motion of the subject and sophisticated software processes the data to create a 3D model of the movement.
  • Depth sensing systems, which use infrared sensors to measure the depth of objects, allowing for the creation of 3D models.
  • Machine learning, which analyzes video data and predicts the motion of key joints and body parts. These systems can improve accuracy over time as the algorithms learn from more data.

It should be mentioned that although there are many advantages to this method, challenges do exist. There is still a need for robust algorithms to handle occlusion (when one object blocks another) and complex movements accurately.

The markerless suit

As an extension to the wonder of markerless mocap, there are markerless suits available on the market. These are equipped with inertial sensors strategically placed throughout the suit to capture the movement of different body parts.

These suits are generally designed to be wireless, allowing for freedom of movement without being connected to a system, making it particularly beneficial for capturing dynamic and natural movements. The software processes the captured data and translates it into a 3D digital representation in real time.

The data can be exported to popular animation software packages, making it compatible with industry-standard tools used in film and gaming.

Facial capture

Facial capture is designed to accurately record and reproduce facial expressions, capturing the nuances of emotions, lip movements and eye expressions with high fidelity.

Like body capture, facial capture can be achieved through both marker-based and markerless systems. For the former, reflective markers are placed on specific facial points, whereas the markerless system relies on computer-vision algorithms to track facial features.

The future of mocap

The future of motion capture holds exciting possibilities and advancements that are likely to focus on achieving even greater realism and immersion. This will mean more detailed and nuanced capture of facial expressions, body movements, and emotions. It may also become more accessible and portable, allowing creators to capture motion in diverse environments.

Already, there is a growing trend on the integration of real-time rendering with mocap systems, which allows for immediate visualization of captured motion, enabling quicker feedback and adjustments during the production process.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are also very likely to play a significant role in mocap’s future. These technologies have the potential to enhance the efficiency of data processing, improve predictive modelling for realistic animations, and automating certain aspects of the mocap workflow.

Overall, the future of mocap appears dynamic and transformative with ongoing developments poised to reshape how we capture and utilize motion in virtual and augmented reality, game, film, and beyond.

Mocap in action

Did you know that since 2019, the Technicolor Games team has completed over 600 minutes of mocap body and face cleanup for various clients?

Among our array of animation services, the most sought-after expertise lies in polishing motion-captured animations to achieve authentic and believable body animations and facial expressions. This focus on realism enhances both cinematic sequences and gameplay, catering to diverse genres like sports and adventure. The current industry trend leans towards creating hyper-realistic, lifelike character animations, aiming to immerse players deeply into a game’s narrative. 

Selvam Venkatesan, Animation Director

Maybe you recognize some of our mocap work in action across these awesome titles:

  • Dragon Age (EA)
  • Anthem (EA)
  • Gotham Knights (Warner Bros.)
  • God of War (Sony Interactive Entertainment)
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider (Microsoft Studios and Square Enix)
  • NBA 2K series
  • UFC series (EA)

Some of our optical mocap team at the Centre of Excellence, Bangalore:

If you’re interested in seeing our full arts service offering, you can find them here.

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If you'd like to discuss your project or our services in more detail then please contact our teams here:

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