NAIT’s Motion Capture Studio: Game Changing Resource for Alberta’s Film, Gaming, Sports, Health and Skills Training Industries

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NAIT’s Motion Capture Studio: Game Changing Resource for Alberta’s Film, Gaming, Sports, Health and Skills Training Industries

Motion capture (mocap) is the process of recording movement and translating it into digital animation. This technology has been used in various capacities since the early 90s in both film and video games, most famously in Midway Manufacturing Company’s 1992 video game, Mortal Kombat and in films like Batman Forever and Star Wars Episode

Mocap has substantially advanced since bringing to life everyone’s favorite Gungan, Jar Jar Binks. In the last decade, motion capture technology for video games has come a long way and can now realistically recreate humanoid movements in 3D in a fraction of the time of manually key-framing. 

Alberta’s gaming and film industry has a new asset in its arsenal in NAIT’s recently completed Motion Capture Studio, which is the only publicly accessible motion capture studio in Northern Alberta. The lab was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Government of Alberta’s Research Capacity Program and NAIT. This 2,000 sq.ft., (12,000 cubic feet in volume) space, part of NAIT’s Centre for Innovative Media, is equipped with a Vicon Camera System with 20 Vicon V5 Cameras, a Vicon Vue Camera, and Vicon’s Shogun software as well as two recently acquired Faceware Mark IV camera systems. 

Skylar Zerr, Lead Technologist for the Motion Capture Studio, integrates innovative technology, whether it be virtual productions in Unreal or facial capture integration to 360° VR footage to produce content and serve industry with the latest motion capture methods.

Skylar has spent 10 years in Animation as a Director, Animator, Storyteller and mentor. Having credits from Feature Film to Kids TV, he has contributed to a variety of productions, including working with Stan Lee’s characters and start-up companies. Skylar possesses a wide variety of studio skills and has spent many hours mentoring animation students, writing best practices for animation departments, hosting seminars and bringing animation to the world. He has developed the animated look of 5 feature films, hundreds of sequences, trailers, and episodes.

Motion capture technology can also be applied outside of entertainment in sports, health, and skills training. The ability to break down movement can be used to analyze and enhance physical performance in golf, skating, or any sport that involves throwing. On the health side researchers can use motion capture to analyze the gait of patients for fall prevention. More specifically, biometric data capture strengthens health app development (for example) by creating baseline data from which to trigger remote notifications to health providers.

On the training side, VR based simulation is shown to enhance student outcomes and success by allowing the student to practice what they are learning prior to engaging with clients or patients. Using motion capture can significantly reduce the time it takes to create these educational tools. Studies have also shown that virtual simulation-based training is, on average, more effective than traditional training, developing students’ technical, practical, and socio-emotional skills. Results reveal that students who complete VR training report 20% higher levels of confidence and self-efficacy towards learning after they complete their courses and are up to 30% more efficient. 

Using motion capture can be a cost barrier to many companies, however NAIT is committed to offering these services at affordable rates. At NAIT, a standard 8 hour shoot with 1 actor and a single prop typically ranges from $5,000 – $7,000, inclusive of data post-processing and re-targeting. Costs are dependent on the number of actors, props and complexity of the scene. 

Companies only interested in shooting and don’t require any processing or re-targeting support can rent the space for a day between $1,600 – $2,500. NAITs inhouse experts can also help identify and secure funding sources to assist in offsetting these costs. Contact NAIT to discuss your project.