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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kinect mocap

I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently about the Kinect being hacked for all sorts of purposes. It’s not entirely surprising. It’s an amazing device, which completely changes the way you can interact with software. Yes, the Eyetoy has been around for a while, but that was only scratching the surface of what’s possible. And they’ve had similar things in arcades for ages - I remember playing a fighting game with Dave in Seattle in about 2001, and getting a very thorough workout in the process! But the Kinect takes the quality way up and brings it into the home.

Here, for example, researchers at USC use it to play World of Warcraft.  They’re using a toolset called FAAST, which they’ve made freely available. There’s more about it here.

But where it get really interesting for us is that it can be used as the basis for a cheap, albeit simplistic home motion capture system. Check this out (thanks to Animatechnica for finding this):

Hatsune Miku was a virtual pop star (animated character) created originally as a marketing stunt for text to voice application but has since evolved into a full blown virtual pop star. Fans created and released a freeware application called MikuMikuDance which allowed fans to create their own animated music videos featuring Hatsune. Into this scene entered higuchuu who added Kinect support to the app and so developed the first real-time motion capture demo for kinect. The hack is still in process but this is an awesome start.
Read more…

Yes, this software has a long way to go. Just for comparison, at the end of this post there’s a clip of Hatsune Miku live in concert - well, as live as a totally synthetic character can be. But it seems more than likely that in 2011 we’ll start to see some mocapped movies created with cheap consumer equipment. That could herald a totally new approach to home animation and home movies in general. Animators will no longer be bound to customisable stock animations or have to laboriously create animations in a complex tool like Blender or Max. Live action directors and actors won’t be limited by costumes or make-up. That opens up all sorts of possibilities.

We’ll be watching this space with interest.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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