Somewhere, James Cameron and Peter Jackson must be doing cartwheels. As lords of the CGI blockbusters, they'll be happy to know that researchers have found a way to more easily film their computer-generated motion-capture scenes without the need of green screens or actors pantomiming around in full-body leotards affixed with reflective markers.
A team of researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP) and Carnagie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a wearable camera system capable of capturing an actor's movements using a process called 'structure from motion' (SfM).
DNEWS VIDEO: GET BEHIND THE SCENES OF AVATAR, TRON, CADDYSHACK AND MORE
SfM was developed 20 years ago by Takeo Kanade, CMU professor of computer science and robotics, as a way to create a 3-D model of an object by analyzing images from a camera as it moves around objects.
Using a similar technique, only to capture movement, researchers Velcroed 20 lightweight cameras to the arms, legs, chest and midsection of subjects as they performed a variety of exercises and motions. The system was able to create an animated, digital skeleton of subjects as they moved about a reference structure — for example, monkey bars or a swing set.
"This could be the future of motion capture," said lead researcher, Takaaki Shiratori, in a CMU news release. He's a post-doctoral associate at DRP., who recently made a presentation about his team's system at SIGGRAPH 2011, the International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Vancouver.
However, the technology still has a ways to go. Shiratori said the quality of motion captured by the body-mounted cameras is still inferior to that of traditional motion capture processes.