For character animators everywhere, moving a character in realistic ways is a challenge. Optical motion capture (mocap) is the gold standard for speed and quality, where markers are situated on the outside of the subject. The animator, however, wants the motion of the underlying bone structure; skeleton solving is a tried-and-tested way to create high quality movements of animated characters.
Customers using our mocap system have enjoyed the best-in-business global optimization tool ‘Calcium Solver’, and other animators have often enquired about having the ability to apply our tools to other 3D-trajectory marker data. Due to popular demand, we are excited to announce the launch of our new interoperable post-process tool Rig Solver: the data cleanup and mocap rig fitting software.
Mocap Rig Solver is a standalone version of our core functions, including Calcium Solver (as well as other skeleton engines) to enhance post-production capabilities for character animation. The software can help you label and clean-up data, and contains multiple functions to minimize time-consuming tasks. Simply import data obtained from a range of motion capture cameras, setups and marker systems. Let’s dive into how it works.
Readily generating realistic moving characters
Animators are looking to enhance the detail of human or human-like figures for feature films and animated shorts, or to appear as playable characters in games. Once a static character has been designed and created, the skeleton (or rig) transposed onto it using animation software helps to build out a realistic, moving computer-generated humanoid.
While the skeleton, made up of ‘bones’, has traditionally been moved using keyframing (still the preferred method for some studios), motion capture systems allow the ability to move those bones using the actions of real-time by actors, not frame by frame. This speeds up the process and makes those movements easier to record, while making the resulting characters more realistic. A practical, in-action example could be a character’s ‘signature move’ in a video game, where sport stars are fitted with mocap body suits to track their unique, recognisable movements for their in-game avatar. Once graphics and a mapped rig are aligned, later post-production texture art further adds a detailed skin for even greater realism.
We understand that a main difficulty for character animation is solving the positioning of these ‘bones’ in accordance to trajectories produced by marker systems, essentially directional paths signifying movement through time. Skeleton solving software is necessary to reposition and transform each part of the rig, bones and difficult joint movements, from one place to another to fit those marker trajectories.
Where Rig Solver steps in
Skeletons can be calculated using the Calcium Solver – a popular core offering ingrained within our Cortex software – but Rig Solver can also create bone structures using properties obtained from a range of other skeleton engines.
- After character creation in an animator’s choice of software, the solving pipeline starts with imported marker data into Rig Solver. The interface helps to create the Model Pose of the marker cloud, which provides the template to tweak the imported model to subject data, then set up the skeleton to structurally match the model.
- With the rig positioned correctly inside the marker cloud, joint types can be selected for each segment. When attached to appropriate markers, this allows the rig to be translated, scaled and rotated accordingly to define the model’s movements in line with trajectories gathered from motion capture data.
- A resulting skeleton can be viewed in panels separate from the model to assess the quality of the solve, and check for any segment adjustments before marker sets can be saved for future captures or exported.
Sometimes, data including marker identification or trajectories may need to be cleaned up once imported into an interface. There’s usually human error in capturing fluid movement for character animation; markers can be accidentally misplaced or knocked from performance activities such as simulated fighting, and causes gaps between tracked motion from one action to the next.
Using high-quality cameras or multiple markers attached all across an actor’s body can improve the accuracy of obtained data, but Rig Solver software includes functionality to process and clean up data collected from a wide range of motion capture systems with the same power as proprietary solutions. Marker sets can be replaced or created. The resulting movement data can be exported in the preferred FBX file format, industry-leading for humanoid characters, and Rig Solver also supports HTR and C3D file types.
Take skeleton solving to the next level
Skeleton engine software has been a popular choice for our animation customers to level up their rig fitting capabilities. We are delighted to offer an adapted form of that core functionality with Rig Solver: a complete, intuitive, time-saving and cost-effective solution which you can implement into your post-processing pipeline today.
If you would like to discover more about our Mocap Rig Solver, we’d be happy to help. Book a demo with our team today.