Motion capture suits not just for Hollywood

The school of design’s motion capture suits have applications across industries 

If you’ve seen Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ted, or Mad Max, you’ve seen Xsens motion capture suits at work.

But you’ve likely never heard of Xsens unless you watch a lot of behind-the-scenes outtakes—and that’s the beauty of it.

Xsens manufactures motion-capture suits or ‘MoCap’ for short, and the accompanying software.

They have a variety of suits, all of which are fixed to an individual to track their movement, capturing the body’s motion in real time and visualizing it in the software in 3D.

Not only does the software accurately visualize the movements of the body, but it also captures all the data along with it—how hard you kick, how quickly you flip, the angles of your spine when you crouch, and so on.

Animators can then take the data files from the software, refine and accentuate the movements, and clean them up for games or movies.

The result is incredibly realistic-looking animations complete with human movements and mannerisms.

Students are doing motion capture as part of their classes, suiting up and acting out scenes with zombies, gremlins, and a whole host of creatures and heroes.

“It gives them a look into what the industry is doing,” said Joseph Zettler, student service coordinator for the school of design, “and it really helps them start visualizing what they could be doing with their futures.”

Zettler has a diploma in game development and a certificate in art and design from George Brown College.

The school of design at GBC now owns four wired motion capture suits, as well as four wireless ones.

Both kinds place 17 trackers on the body, each one encased in a bright plastic orange rectangle.

The trackers contain gyroscopes and accelerometers, which measure the rotation of the body and the speed of its movement.

With a motion capture suit and a wireless VR headset, a fully immersive gaming experience isn’t too far in the future, according to Zettler.

“You could have a completely wireless experience where you could walk around an empty room and feel like you’re on the deck of the USS Enterprise,” said Zettler.

Dr. Nastaran Dadashi has big ideas too.

A professor in human factors and design, as well as research coordinator at the school of design at GBC, Dadashi plans to use the MoCap suit in a usability lab at the school.

The lab will be equipped with a two-way mirror, so they can observe usability for participants without making the participants feel pressured to act a certain way.

They’ll have the space set up to simulate real life, with a couch and video game set up as you might have at home.

“It allows us to capture video and code and analyze that video in a just, qualified way that is statistically justified,” said Dadashi. “It’s an industry-accepted level of credibility.”

Xsens also has clients in the automotive, aerospace, and sports analysis space.

With many potential applications, the motion capture suit is available for use by anyone– you don’t have to be in the school of design.

If you have a potential project, contact Devin Barber, MoCap student support, at devin.barber@georgebrown.ca.

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Motion capture suits not just for Hollywood