The Different Types of Mocap Systems and How They Work
Motion capture, also known as mocap, is a process of recording the movement of objects or people and translating that data into a digital format. Mocap is used in various industries, such as film, gaming, and health and wellness, to create realistic animations, characters, and simulations.
There are several different types of mocap systems, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s explore the main types of mocap systems and how they work.
Magnetic Systems: These systems use magnetic sensors to track the movement of objects. Magnetic systems are often used in industrial settings, as they are not affected by light or the environment. However, they can be limited in terms of the range and accuracy of their tracking capabilities.
Vision-Based Systems: These types of solutions do not require the user to wear a suit or have markers on their body. A network of cameras shoot a scene from as many angles as possible helping translate 2D camera footage into a 3D motion file. These types of solutions require a lot of data and processing time making them difficult to use for real-time applications.
Inertial Systems: These systems are built with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers that track the wearer's movements. Inertial systems are typically small and portable, making them ideal for use in remote or challenging environments. However, long data capture sessions can cause drift and loss of accuracy over time, requiring calibration sessions in between. Perception Neuron 3 and Perception Neuron Studio are both examples of inertial systems. Inertial systems tend to be the most cost-effective solution for indie studios and game developers. An example of this is the team at Something’s Awry who use Perception Neuron to speed up their production process -
Optical Systems: These systems use cameras to track reflective (passive) or Active LED markers placed on an actor's body or props. The markers are then used to calculate the actor's movements in 3D space. These systems are millimeter level accurate and ideal for projects that require extreme precision. Optical systems are widely used in film and gaming, but are expensive and require a large, controlled environment.
Hybrid Systems: NoitomVPS is Noitom’s virtual production solution, combining inertial and optical systems to create a robust motion capture experience that overcomes the limitations of other types of systems. NoitomVPS combines Perception Neuron Studio, an inertial based system, with optical cameras from their partners at Qualisys to create a fully integrated solution that leverages the accuracy of the optical cameras with the flexibility and portability of the inertial systems. In addition, combining these two technologies results in a much more budget friendly and attainable solution for smaller studios and indie creators. An example of NoitomVPS in action can be seen in the Golden Telly Award winning short film - “Pacha Mama” - https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/532433500/6f73d0f2f2.
The type of mocap system you choose will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Whether you're working in film, gaming, animation, healthcare, or another industry, it's important to understand the different types of mocap systems and how they work in order to make the correct choice for your specific needs.
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