Motion Capture (aka mocap) - most of us are already familiar with it and some of have either worked with it or seen it in action. Early mocap was great but required an almost burdensome amount of cleanup to use at production level. This has improved greatly over the years but the problem to the average animator that didn't work for a studio was cost. Very few freelancers in particular had the funding available to get into an area that required tens of thousands of dollars.
Noitom's Perception Neuron
Fast forward to today and it's a different story. Noitom LTD, established in 2011, has released its Perception Neuron motion capture body suit. This suit is simple to use with easy to grasp software. One problem that cannot be avoided is that it takes more time to put the suit on than it does to actually use it for motion capture so I tend to wait until I need several motions then suit up and get to work. For my part cleanup was almost nil. That's right... very little clean up. Edit your start and ending position and the rest is usually personal preference but most is very useable as is. I did my work alone and never had trouble even though Noitom recommended two people to suit up and position sensors. A mirror worked for me.
If you read all their propaganda it seems that suiting up/calibration is difficult and you might need a degree in physics to get it up and running. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm sure they didn't mean to project that image but after all their disclaimers I was doubting my purchase. It turned out to be much about nothing in my case. Everything except the Wi-Fi router worked at my home studio and I was able to use it tethered via USB with no problem. The Wi-Fi never showed up in the AXIS software. I didn't look into further at the time because my goals were accomplished and there are so many variables that can be involved with Wi-Fi that I'll tackle that hurdle when I need to. Suffice to say many have been successful using Wi-Fi according to their forum.
The Axis software is a no-brainer. Most of you reading this will adapt very quickly. At first glance... it seems a bit complicated but in usage is not. One thing to keep in mind is that you have to be a physical actor or hire some that is. Everyday movements are one thing but there are movements that can require skilled or good physical acting.
The only two negatives I can come up with during this initial testing is a lack of response to an inquiry from Noitom to provide a copy of Axis Pro for evaluation. Even though the request opened a support ticket I never heard back from them. As a customer you would have thought they would have replied. I have no issues with the suit up to this point so I have no idea if they answer actual support tickets. The other negative being no way to search their forums. Yes... you read that right. That can be frustrating.
Overall I find the Perception Neuron suit to a big plus and huge step forward in affordable motion capture. The costs still need to go down for the average hobby or machinimator to have access to one but for the key frame weary freelancer it just might be the ticket to less tedious work and more billable hours.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. You can learn more about MD at his website.
Guitar Mocap Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiVMWMNxrf4
Character Mocap Test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bg5syClHvK0