Systems from Vicon, NaturalPoint, Organic Motion Balance Cost, Flexibility For anyone contemplating bringing motion-capture capabilities in house, SIGGRAPH 2010 was a great opportunity to compare and contrast the latest mocap solutions. Vicon brought its A game to the show with the high-end T-Series, which is top-lined by the T160, a 16-megapixel capture device. It also talked up the new version of its mocap processing software, Blade. Most noticeably to passersby, Vicon touted the capabilities of its mocap-and-animation facility, House of Moves, with "Beyond the Norm," a short film — and accompanying behind-the-scenes docu — it commissioned starring comic Norm McDonald. The film showcases simultaneous facial and full-body mocap on a House of Moves stage surrounded by 200 T160s
But the company was also promoting its Bonita camera, launched late last year as a more cost-effective approach to motion capture. The $3,000 Bonita captures at up to 240fps, features a Gigabit Ethernet interface to maximize bandwidth, and captures with a positional accuracy of 1mm in a four-meter-square volume. You can set up a full eight-camera Vicon Bonita motion-capture system, with software, for $30,000.
Vicon's scrappy competition in this space includes NaturalPoint's OptiTrack system, which starts with a budget-minded $6,000 motion-capture system that NaturalPoint was demonstrating in a prominent booth at the front of the show floor. That package includes six of the company's $599 V100:R2 USB cameras, plus the cables, hubs, software, and other gear to make them all work together. That's certainly inexpensive, but OptiTrack's more direct competitor to the Bonita is its new Ethernet camera, the $1899 S250e, which is slated to ship later this summer.
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Meanwhile, Organic Motion had its own motion-capture stage where it was promoting another paradigm — marker-less motion capture. The subject gets on the stage and holds his arms out perpendicular to his body for a few seconds as the system maps his form to a 23-bone skeleton that will drive an animated figure in real time. The obvious advantages are speed and flexibility; but one of the drawbacks is that only the human body can be tracked. Also, fine motion like movements of the face and digits (fingers, etc) can't be captured. That makes it unsuitable for much feature-film work, but it has obvious applications in videogames as well as for public-venue installations like museums or other places where motion-capture could serve an educational function.
A full Organic Motion system, featuring 14 cameras, runs about $80,000, and systems can be daisy-chained to create larger volumes.