Disney Research has created a system that uses fewer sensors, provides a greater range of motions, and is easier to set up. A demonstration on the new motion capture system works (Screencap from Disney)


Motion capture is a great source for making animation so life like. Their fluid motions and movement are the result of someone in a motion capture suit. Though it’s made some facets of animation easier, it’s not easy to set up in itself. We’ve all seen the motion capture suits with what look like hundreds of ping pong balls all over a skin tight onesie. Because so many sensors are involved, it makes it difficult to set up and take down. Also, since you have to wear so many sensors, it limits your movements. Animation giant Disney is looking to change this with their new simplified process.


The company’s design lab, Disney Research, created a motion capture system that is physics based and needs less sensors to gather data.  Rather than having sensors all over the body, you place sensors on both hands, feet, and the head only. The system predicts how the body will move and finds plausible positions based on your hands and feet. To makes sure movement isn’t off or weird, the system double checks the data with a set of known motions. If more sensors are needed to get more data, they can be introduced later, but they will still be less than what is currently used. Not only is it much easier to set up, but it allows for a wider range of motions for the actor.


Disney Research shows off the new system in a short video. The person in blue’s movement is produced by the standard sensors, the green person is computed by a model, and the yellow shows “motion priors” frame by frame being used to predict movement. As you can, the system isn’t perfect, but it has potential. Because of the easy set up and the real-time response, it can change not only animation, but it can be useful for VR as well. The simplified system could provide a full VR experience that doesn’t require you to strap on a headset or wave your arms in front of a Kinect.


The system is still in the development phase. Disney Research presented a paper about the system at the Conference on Visual Media Production in London. Hopefully, we’ll be hearing more about this in the future, since it seems so promising. A system that can motion capture easier for animation and provide a real VR experience? Sign me up. You can read more about the system in Disney Research’s paper here.



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