Electron demoIn collaboration with Alain Renaud from MINTLab, we gave on the 20th of April a workshop at Electron Festival in Geneva. At this occasion, we presented the 3D In Motion (3DIM) experimental setup of capture, visualization and sonification of movements in real time. About twenty people participated to the workshop, where they had the opportunity to test the system and to learn more about the underlying techniques.

It was the first time 3DIM was officially presented to the public and the feedback was positive. This gave us a good basis for further developing the system both in terms of visualization and musicality. The next demonstration will take place in June at the New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) Conference in London.

More information about the 3DIM project here.

 

 

Electron demo      Electron demo

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So you have an animation and simulation project, and want to scan people to get their high-resolution 3D meshes. At that point you have wide variety of different options based on different capture technologies, big bulky machines, hand-held devices and scanners that can take quite a while to obtain a scan. So what do you do when you don’t necessarily have a lot of permanent space, when you ideally want to obtain a scan in a single shot, and you want to do all that on a budget? Well, you build your own solution of course.

You visit your local camera vendor, and empty their basket of 64 Canon Powershot A1400 cameras, which should suffice to build 8 portable 3D scanning poles. Throw in a significant amount of USB cables, add some USB hubs, grab some wood and hardware from your local DIY store, add some bright LED strip for lighting, and you have all the ingredients necessary to build your own scanner.

 

Being the efficient people that we are, the idea of having to charge and replace the batteries for 64 individual cameras at each session did not sound like the most effective solution. So external power it is. Unfortunately the official adapter comes at a cost. And with us not being all that patient when it comes to seeing results of our labour, an ordering time of several weeks made us wonder “If we’re building the whole thing ourselves, surely we can make our own external power supplies as well”. And as soon as we have such thoughts, a “battery” assembly line springs to life, wiring up the wooden batteries and soldering the power-supply connectors.

The construction:

3D body scanner based on 64 canon A1400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the software side the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) allows us to control all 64 cameras using custom scripts. With all cameras pretty much synchronized, we don’t have to worry too much about minor movements of the scanned subject, as long as the shutter time is fairly short. The actual capture process has completed in the blink of an eye. Processing the captured images into a 3D mesh and a clean texture uses Agisoft PhotoScan software, and requires only minimal manual tweaks. For animation some additional cleanup and remeshing might be necessary in other software, but the raw results obtained are already very detailed and usable.

And there you have it. Eight very portable and storable scanning poles, allowing us to capture bodies or objects at a sufficiently high resolution and in a short time.

The first results:

 

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Last week, we were invited at the Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) 2014, a three weeks of compelling educational, cultural and recreational events organized by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia). There, we did a 3 half day workshop on Motion Capture and 3D animation for the students of KAUST. Participants had the chance to test our Xsens MVN system and to follow a course on the challenges related to Mocap and 3D character modeling/animation through case studies and practical examples. According to students feedback, they really enjoyed the workshop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, we participated to the Science Fun Fair, an opportunity for the community and schools from Saudi Arabia to come and learn about the science at KAUST. At this occasion, we did motion capture demos and showed several videos about our latest projects.

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Yesterday, we tested with Tobias Baumann, game designer and freelancer, the Oculus Rift with our Xsens MVN in Unity 3D. The goal was to virtually hit columns of cubes and balloons. Some simple applications to start with, but resulting in a nice full-body immersive VR experience. The first tests were convincing. We will definitely continue working on this topic with Tobias. Stay tuned!

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Sochi 2014 – the next Winter Olympic Games – is coming soon… For us, it was the opportunity to motion capture several winter sports! Indeed, we were contacted by Kenzan Technologies for the making of a 3D animation requiring different short captures of professional athletes. We spent a weekend in Zermatt to acquire the necessary data. The weather conditions were not on our side, -15° at the top, snow falls, zero visibility, not really the best conditions to go skiing with our Xsens system and a computer on the slopes! After experiencing a lot of issues, especially because of the cold, we were finally able to obtain good animation data during the weekend. We captured four athletes in the following disciplines: Nordic skiing, alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard.

Hockey motion capture with Xsens MVNSnowboard motion capture with Xsens MVNFreestyle skiing motion capture with Xsens MVN
 

Back in Geneva, we captured three additional people to complete our sample of winter sports: ice hockey, speed skating and bobsleigh. Now you are wondering… Is there a bobsleigh slope in Geneva? Well of course, there isn’t! But with some tricks, a good carpenter and a little practice, it is possible to produce the illusion… Note that for this last capture, it was not necessary to have a professional athlete!

Bobsleight motion capture with Xsens MVN

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Bread roll dance motion capture

The famous bread roll dance from The Gold Rush

We were recently contacted to perform the motion capture for an upcoming short movie entitled “The Great Imitator” created by Boris Beer. This short animated movie will be a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. Without giving too much details, the goal of the shooting was to capture some iconic scenes of Chaplin’s most famous movies.

For example, the first scene we captured was the one from The Great Dictator where Chaplin plays with an inflatable globe. We also had to capture the famous nut screwing scene from Modern Times as well as some scenes from The Kid. Fabrice Bessire (the actor) did a great job reinterpreting Chaplin in those scenes.

Finally, among the selected scenes was the famous “Bread roll dance” from The Gold Rush. In this scene, Charlie Chaplin creates a small ballet by giving life to two forks and two bread roll in order to entertain his friends. As you can see on the pictures, this capture required a very specific and unique bread motion capture setup (patent pending!).

We will talk again about this short film when it will be finished. Stay in touch!

Fabrice Bessire - The actor      Bread Roll Dance - The Gold Rush      Bread motion capture setup

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Last week we tested the motion capture protocol for the research project “Motion and unconsciousness”. The setup is uncommon: subjects are asked to execute movements in the dark while still being able to see the other participant’s hands thanks to phosphorescent tape. They are also equipped with a respiration sensor and headphones with white noise to be isolated from external stimuli.

100 volunteers will participate to the study and be distributed in different groups according to specific criteria. One group will also be captured with simultaneous EEG recording. The goal of the project is to compare the subjective sensation of synchrony with objective data of motor coordination and synchronization acquired from motion capture when two people are engaged in joint action tasks.

 

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In the context of our project Shoulder3D, we spent a day in radiology to acquire specific data required for the validation of our research methodology. The objective of the project is to develop a new kinematic model to reliably evaluate the three-dimensional motion of the shoulder based on motion capture data. In order to compare the kinematics estimated by our methodology with the real motion of the shoulder bones, we performed a double acquisition. We simultaneously recorded motion capture data using our Vicon system and fluoroscopic images.

As you can see on the pictures below, setting up properly the system in such a confine area and dealing with the occlusions of the fluoroscopic device were the tricky parts of our work!

Mocap in fluoroscopy room    Mocap in fluoroscopy room

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The Institute of Movement Science and Sport Medicine of the University of Geneva and the Willy Taillard Laboratory of Kinesiology of the University Hospital of Geneva contacted us for an unusual motion capture session. Daniel Jaquet, a PhD student in Humanities, focuses his research on the description of fights in full armor in historical documents from the 16th century. Part of his thesis work aims at analyzing the range of possible movements while wearing such a 30 kg medieval armor. By using motion capture, he will be able to get a comprehensive amount of data.

Daniel - The Knight      Markers attached to the armor

For this mocap session, the main issue was related to the reflective surface of the armor. Indeed, reflections can be perceived as markers by the camera, introducing a lot of unwanted artefacts. By tuning our MXT40S cameras’ parameters and the reconstruction settings, we were able to solve this issue and collect good data for his study.

Mocap with a medieval armorHere are some clips of the recording session:

 Thanks to Stéphane Armand, Alice Bonnefoy and Daniel’s equerry for their help during the mocap session!

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Are you interested in learning more about motion capture or simply curious to discover the magic of mocap? On May 7th and 8th 2012, we will organize a workshop at artanim in collaboration with Focal.

The goal of this two-day workshop will be to put hands on our two motion capture systems: our 24 cameras MXT40s Vicon system and our Xsens MVN motion capture suit. From system calibration to final rendering, the whole pipeline will be covered.

Mocap with Vicon System   Mocap with Xsens   Motion capture studio

 

Program:

  • The first day will be dedicated to capture data. After a brief theoretical presentation on motion capture, participants will be able to try each system and assess their advantages and drawbacks.
  • The second day will focus on data post-processing and their integration in a 3D authoring software. This will allow the participants to get a clearer view of what is involved when using motion capture for 3D animation.

Registration to this workshop is open until April 4th on Focal’s website.

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