Creating Your Own MoCap Using Your Own Camera(s) - The Basics

January 16, 2008 9:51 pm

Before starting, I am assuming that you already know how to use Lightwave 3D (Modeler/Layout). If not, Please go to your “Help” option tab in Layout so you can understand the tools better that we are going to be using in this lesson.

*Note: Example images are placed in order, alongside the steps. Click on the images for a larger view. 

Using Camera(s) for recording:

First, we need to record the film we are going to use as a MoCap guide. Now, using one or two cameras, record yourself throwing two punches at a “side view” and at a “front view” as shown in Example1 (Please note: your recording duration should be no more than 1 or 2 seconds).

Save the movie for the camera that recorded your side profile as “Side view.avi” and the camera that recorded your front profile as “Front view.avi” on your desktop. Now that you have recorded your MoCap, we are now going to use them in Lightwave.




1. Open up Lightwave Modeler and in the first layer create two polygon squares as shown in Example2.









2.  As shown in Example3, select the polygon facing forward and give it a surface name called “front” and then hit "ok."









3.  As shown in Example4, Select the polygon facing sideways and give it a surface name called “side” and then hit "ok."









4. Change the upper left Viewport window option from Top (XZ) to “UV Texture.” Use Example5 as a reference.









5. Select the surface call “front” and Click the “T” option (highlighted in red in Example6) to turn on the “Create UV texture map” window. Follow what it shows in Example6 and then hit "ok."









6. Select the surface call “side” and Click the “T” option (highlighted in red in Example7) to turn on the “Create UV texture map” window. Follow what it shows in Example7 and then hit "ok." When you are done, change the upper left Viewport window option from UV Texture to “Top (XZ).” Use Example8 as a reference.
















7.  Press F6 on your keyboard to open up “Image Editor” and load (it is highlighted in red in Example9) up both movies from your desktop called “Side view.avi” and “Front view.avi.”








8. Now that you have loaded the movies, close the “Image Editor” window and press F5 on your keyboard to open up the “Surface Editor” window. Click the surface called “front” and then click on the “T” button to open up the “Texture Editor” window and follow the setup that is shown in Example10.







9. Okay, now click the surface called “side” and then click on the “T” button to open up the “Texture editor” window and follow the setup that is shown in Example11. Once you are done with that, save the object as “Movie setup” and then close Lightwave modeler.








10. Okay, we are now going to use those videos in layout to make our MoCap data. Open up Lightwave Layout and load in the object called “Movie setup.” Once you do that, save your scene as “MoCap setup.” Now we are going to add a null. Click the null button highlighted in red in Example12. Name the null as “Head_Top.” Change the “Item shape” to ball as shown in Example 12 and scale it down to 20mm. Once you are done, you are going to repeat this same step, but instead of giving all the nulls the same name, you are going to name each null as follows:














11. Okay, now that you have each null named and they have an item shape we are now going to place each null with a specific name to a specific location. Use Example13 as a guide to place the nulls you named to a specific location.

I am quite sure by now you are like "What in the world are we doing here?"  Well, let me explain it to you. The nulls that you positioned are the reference data that we are going to use for MoCap data. Every time we move to a new keyframe, the nulls are going to be placed in a new location according to the videos that you recorded earlier of you throwing punches.





12. Okay, now here is the long part. What you have to do now is go to every new key frame, and when you see the background video of yourself in a new position, you have to place the nulls you named in the new position according to the videos. Example14 and Example15 will show the differences in the keyframes.

Please note: in the examples 14 & 15, all I did to give it the look of a rig (even though it is not a real rig setup) is I made a certain null target another null corresponding to it (Ex: LeftFoot targets LeftKnee – LeftKnee targets Waist, etc.). Once you finish and you are happy with the animation, save it again and load up a character with a rig already setup.

Once your character is loaded in the scene, pose your character in the first frame of the timeline in the position of the MoCap data. Then, parent all the nulls that are on the Rig of your character, to the nulls that you animated earlier, as shown in Example16. If you don’t have a rig setup, or don’t know how to make one, please check to make your very own rig for your character(s).











The outcome of your animation should look like this:


I hope this tutorial has been helpful to you. If you have had any trouble reading this, you can download the files from this lesson, here.









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Since the age 16, Newhere has always had an eye for the 3d element. For many years, Newhere has worked with 3d graphics Using Lightwave's tools to create his own characters and environments. His real interest in 3d modeling was first discovered when he found some 3d images online and was fascinated by 3d human models done by the artists of Renderosity.

January 28, 2008

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Article Comments

nemirc ( posted at 12:00AM Tue, 29 January 2008

I am not a lightwave user, but I think you've described a slightly different technique for rotoscoping. I dig rotoscoping a lot, although in the end you still have to double check your animations and add a little more to it to make it look cooler. Nice article :p

DramaKing ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 30 January 2008

An interesting method but perhaps overly complicated.

FALCON2 ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 31 January 2008

Time intensive process you've outlined but certainly feasible :) Nice little tutorial!

CuriousGeorge ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 04 February 2008

This is not motion capture - this is not rotoscoping. However it is AS TEDIOUS as rotoscoping. I will give the author creds though for providing an alternative means to mocap that will produce the same results.