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GDC: Organic Motion Offers 'Naked' Motion Capture

Who needs dot markers? One of the biggest hassles of motion capture has always been the need to suit up an actor and precisely tag the body with light-reflecting dots, bu...
Who needs dot markers? One of the biggest hassles of motion capture has always been the need to suit up an actor and precisely tag the body with light-reflecting dots, but New York's Organic Motion this week announced a new motion capture system that greatly simplifies the process by doing away with markers, suits, and the like. Andrew Tschesnok and Jonathan Rand, CEO and president, respectively, showed me the new technology during the Game Developers Conference. The set up comprises 10 cameras, a small stage-like area, draped in white backdrops and lighted all around, and a tabletop box, about as large as two or three old-school VCRs stacked on top of each other. To capture data, the cameras and technology are first calibrated to recognize the general size and shape of a specific person (a bipedal form). Then the technology intelligently defines natural joints and edges on the body and tracks those points rather than a reflective dot. Even more impressively, the system works in real time. The demonstration I viewed streamed the data with very little lag time directly into Autodesk MotionBuilder. In addition, the system can amass more than just motion: It can grab a mesh and texture too, albeit at a very low resolution (about 500—5,000 triangles for the mesh). Although the system is still being tweaked, the possibilities for game developers (and medical professionals, Tschesnok and Rand noted) are tremendous. The only major limitation at this point is that the system can only track one human figure at a time presently, though Organic Motion claims that come 2008, it should be able to handle two bodies at once. The system, also called Organic Motion, is set to debut in September of this year for around $80,000.

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