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Implementation Of A Low Budget, Raster Based, 3 D Motion Capture System Using Custom Software And Modern Video Tracking Technology

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.551.1 - 6.551.9



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W Meador

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Carlos Morales

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Session 2538

Implementation of a Low Budget, Raster Based, 3D Motion Capture System Using Custom Software and Modern Video Tracking Technology

W. Scott Meador, Carlos Morales Purdue University


This paper details the implementation of a system developed to generate 3D motion capture data through the analysis of raster based motion video. The system’s general procedure includes acquiring video, processing the raster data to raw motion data through motion tracking technology, formatting the raw data into various useable forms using custom software, importing it to 3D animation software via custom scripts and then applying it to 3D geometry. The purpose of the project is to use the realism and efficiencies that motion capture provides, but without the high cost of traditional motion capture equipment. Though this system may not always provide the resolution or possibility for real time applications that traditional motion capture can, it does allow users to apply real-world motion to virtual objects in an efficient manner.

I. Introduction

While motion-capture techniques have been accepted by larger production companies as a cost-effective means of achieving extremely realistic movements, the technology has not gained industry wide acceptance among smaller cost-conscience firms due to the high entry-level cost associated with the process, which can start out in the tens of thousands of dollars. The cost can impact the user both in terms of the equipment required and the expertise needed to engage the motion-capture process from planning to the actual application of the data to three-dimensional geometry. This paper details a method for engaging in motion-capture in a cost-effective manner through the use of low-cost raster tools.

Production animation firms and academic institutions that can cope with the entry-level costs associated with this process benefit in numerous ways. First, they are able to produce animations with more realism than production companies that do not have access to this technology. In producing scenes for The Mummy, ILM used an optical system from Oxford Metrics to capture Arnold Vosloo’s movements and map the motion to the main character. According to ILM’s Jeff Light, motion capture allowed them to capture the essence of the actor’s movement 1. In video gaming scenarios, where the rendered graphics need to react to the player’s movement, motion capture makes it possible to generate realistic animation. In Parasite Eve animators from Square Soft used motion capture for situations where “there is a lot of physical dynamics to the motion and you really see the gravity of the character…because that sort of movement can be really hard to achieve in keyframe animation.”2

“Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ? 2001, American Society for Engineering Education”

Meador, W., & Morales, C. (2001, June), Implementation Of A Low Budget, Raster Based, 3 D Motion Capture System Using Custom Software And Modern Video Tracking Technology Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9349

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