View Full Version : Mocap dance party advice sought

06-04-2012, 04:54 AM

I'm about to tackle a project that is quite a bit out of my usual scope. (I usually restrict myself to motion graphics projects without character animation).

However, on this occasion I have need to create a room full of people dancing at a party - lasting 2 minutes plus. I've figured the best way will be to use mocap data of hip hop / street dancers etc… Problem is, I have no experience in this side of things at all. And after a couple of days of considering approaches - I feel that I need advice from those with experience.

I have a about 2 weeks full time that I can dedicate to the project.

First I considered using iPi plus 3 or 4 PS3 Eye cams to make my own data. However, I now feel that without prior experience messing around with such and finding best approaches to take the data through all the various stages, that to expect decent results in the time frame is likely unrealistic. Further, I'd need to find and direct a pro dancer - which would be nice to avoid - hence:

I now consider that using pre-exising mocap data of pro dancers is likely the best way to go. (And at at least I know the performances will be decent). But where to find adequate data, and how to apply? A quick search on TurboSquid and elsewhere for hip hop mocap shows quite a few good short performances - but these would need to be stitched together to make 2 minutes plus (how?)… And how easy would it be to transfer these to a LW Rig?


And very cheap, but how good is the data? and is it royalty free?:

Another approach might be a tool like JimmyRig - which apparently has an extensive library of mocap that can very easily be applied to LW models, and very easily brought into LW. However, I have no real info on the extent of appropriate street dance mocap data for my purposes included.

Also have looked at WebAnimate, and Moclip. But again haven't been able to figure out the inclusion / availability of pre-existing data sets for my purposes from either of these - nor do I have any knowledge of the process of bringing the results into LW.

All in all - really need some advice!


06-04-2012, 06:12 AM
Well... to find ready made mocap... An awful lot of stuff out there is pretty generic and common stuff, more specialised sets like dancing, various sports, etc, can often be thinner on the ground, so what's available is what there is and that's about it.

Now ofc, provided you can get enough of the right types of clips, then that's all OK, but as you point out, much of it is very short compared to your needs, so you are gonna need to be able to loop/stitch, etc things together.

Now some will tell you that you can do this all in LW using things like motion mixer or IKB, which is true (provieded the rigs MATCH)... but good luck... both those systems in LW are not very good or well suited to this kind of thing. There is also IKinemas webaniamte service, which'll help you to do all this much better than you could in LW. Its ok, a lil wierd, not particularly deep or flexible, but it does OK, and should provide for your needs.

Or there's MotionBuilder, and there really is NOTHING like it... nothing even comes close (well, HIK in maya perhaps, but tahts kinda like an MB lite anyway). MB is by far the fastest and best thing there is for working with mocap data... getting a good retarget onto your own characters, and so on.

But the thing with any of these options for you is gonna be the learning curve... You could probably expect to eat up one of those two weeks just learning how to do the things you need to do, and the workflow so as you can just go ahead and punch your way through it. And if you were on the MB side, there is ofc the cost on top of all that.

Doing it yourself with iPi is great... but again, it needs editing after the fact to clean it up a lil bit, and there are the issues of getting an appropriate performer as you mention.

As for the LW exchange side of things... that's a piece of cake (at least once you've gone through the process a couple of times), and Ive got that REALLY well documented on my YT channel, so the info you need is all there for you.

All over though, no easy answer Im afraid... other than get someone who already knows how to do it for you I guess.

On the plus side I will say it's great fun, and a good thing to learn, and knowing a mocap pipeline will give you so much flexibility to be able to include character animation quickly and easily, and once you get the workflow down, it IS all pretty easy and straighforward. Just a lot of "infrastructure" more than anything else I guess.

06-04-2012, 06:25 AM
Oh yeah, one other thing, looking at your links there... FORMATS.

Bip, c3d, bvh, etc... are gonna be basically useless to you (well, somewhere between useless and a LOT of hassle). You want a smooth in/out... stick with FBX (others can be ok, but again, only if you've got somthing like MB as an inbetween to let you convert and retarget)

06-04-2012, 07:00 AM
Ok, thanks RH - that's good food for thought

(unfortunately MB is just too expensive)

I'll need to think this through

06-04-2012, 07:04 AM
Anyone with experience of JimmyRig?

06-04-2012, 07:06 AM
How does one go about cleaning up iPi data?

Just a thought… could the 'uncleaned' data be used, but passed through an Item Motion Node Editor network which could filter out high frequencies automatically?

06-04-2012, 08:32 AM
Well JR (so far as Im aware) won't let you load in your own motions anyway... just use the built in stuff (and I think u'd be lucky if it contains the motions you're after).

As for cleaning ipi data... depends what you mean by "clean". THere is ofc "jitter" that results from the tracking process, but ipi has tools to clean this to an extent. What Im talking about is things like foot skate, or parts of a body penetrating other parts after retargeting has been performed (caused by a mismatch in proportion between the captured performer and the target character). This requires some kind of mocap editing tool, like the ones mentioned.

The FBX-IK rig I jsut added to RHiggit will allow you to do this in LW, and paired with ipi will give you most of what you need. Ofc there's still no stitching together of clips, its purely for keyframing (layering) on top of mocap, ad giving lock offs, etc. Check the FBX-IK vid on my YT for a example of workflow, etc.

(oh and no, nodal whatever... thats a dead end).