Understanding Motion Capture (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics)

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9780124906303: Understanding Motion Capture (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Computer Graphics)


Motion capture is one of the most talked about and misunderstood technologies in computer animation because of its rocketing popularity and ambiguous implementation. In Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video Games, industry insider Alberto Menache tells the complete story of motion capture, examining its technical details as well as its growth as an industry. Menache's narrative voice and in-depth technical discussions allow the reader to not only learn motion capture, but also to understand the reasons behind its successes, failures, and increasing role in blockbuster films, such as Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. With its careful balance between technical analysis and industry trends, Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video Games is the first book to explore the controversial art and practice of modern character animation using motion capture.

* Provides descriptions of all the mathematical principles associated with motion capture and 3D character mechanics.
* Offers great ideas for character setup that can be used for any character animation, even without the use of captured motion data.
* Includes source code that will help readers write conversion and motion data manipulation programs.

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Review:

In the world of computer animation, there is no topic more controversial than motion capture, the technique of isolating the movement of a real person and applying it to a computer-generated character. In Understanding Motion Capture for Computer Animation and Video Games, Alberto Menache refrains from siding in the debate. Rather, he tries to educate the reader on how motion capture works, describing the strengths and weaknesses of this powerful but mismarketed technology.

Years of practical experience reveal themselves throughout the book, with concise writing and numerous examples from the commercial world (the passage on the motion capture tests for the Pillsbury Doughboy are worth the cost of the book).

The book describes the history of the technology, how it evolved, and the different types of capture systems that are currently used: optical, electromagnetic, electromechanical, etc.

The most valuable section of the book documents the complete breakdown of a capture session. The first thing to do before starting a project is to decide if motion capture is required, or whether to go with traditional animation. Once motion capture becomes the chosen alternative, a number of factors come into play. These factors, detailed chapter by chapter, include setting up the animated character, choosing the capture system, directing the talent in the suit, understanding the anatomy of both the character and the talent and how the two must relate, and understanding and tweaking the captured data.

Unfortunately, the book has no accompanying CD-ROM. Video examples from capture sessions, along with the animation that is generated from the sessions, would have been a wonderful and educational addition, along with the captured data itself. Also, there is scant material on capturing facial expressions. Still, for any animator, producer, or director with an eye toward using--or at least wanting to understand--motion capture, this book is a must-have. --Mike Caputo

About the Author:

Alberto Menache founded Three Space Imagery, Inc. (TSi), a computer graphics and video game developer, in Los Angeles, where he and his team developed proprietary software for motion capture usage in animation. After selling his software to Motion Analysis Corporation, Menache moved on to Pacific Data Images, a computer graphics industry leader, where he is the lead character technical director at the commercial and film effects division. His latest production credits include the film Forces of Nature, commercials for SEGA, Circle K and Pillsbury, the award-winning music video for TLC's "Waterfalls", and dozens of video games, including Dark Ridge, Messiah and Soul Blade.

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Menache, Alberto
Published by Morgan Kaufmann (1999)
ISBN 10: 0124906303 ISBN 13: 9780124906303
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