A few months ago I heard about using a Kinect Sensor for Motion Capture to create animations. I bought one and tried using Brekel but the results were not good enough and the workflow wasn’t too straightforward either. Now a few days ago while searching (and avoiding the almost-omnipresent iPiSoft) I found a free open-source software called KMotion Capturer by Akira32 (site is in Chinese but he usually translates his KMotion Capturer related posts).
This software captures from Kinect and saves it into a .ms (MaxScript) file for use in 3ds Max. While you’re not able to see the real-time movements directly in your character, the result is an animated Biped skeleton which allows for easy transfer of the animation into your own character. Mocap is only ever a base for animations which requires adjusting and cleanup (further in this case, since the Kinect doesn’t capture fingers) so it doesn’t represent a problem.
It also uses Voice Commands for the different functions so it’s easy to use even without being at the keyboard to control it.
I really like this approach and the resulting workflow, but I encountered a few problems:
- It only exports bone positions and Biped only allows setting positions on the rootbone, elbows, wrists, knees and feet; the rest are ignored. As such, the resulting animations are blocky and robotic (sample proof).
- It’s only available as source which is unfriendly for most artists. And despite the author’s effort of translating his related posts to English, the software is mostly unknown.
- It could use a few extra minor features (control the Kinect Sensor’s rotation, a more natural spine, some customization, etc).
As I was able to download and compile the sources and get the program running I decided to improve it myself and later on release it for public use, hoping for a broader audience.
The results so far are promising, I’m already able to export rotations for all bones (thanks to the new functionality in the Kinect SDK 1.5) producing a more natural animation. I still need to implement a few things to make it work better, and the input of the original author. After that a public release should come.
In the meantime here’s a pose I captured with it.