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Nikon is taking 3D motion capture beyond the next level with a system that quickly creates a photographic-quality render of any person and then seamlessly inserts it into video game environments as a fully-moveable digital character.

make_conference_badge-ces2014Their xxArray system, built by Alexx Henry Studios for Nikon to show at CES 2014, is a 68-camera photobooth that captures a 360° full-body 3D image in a single shot. Requiring just two quick poses and a couple hours of processing time, the setup generates a 14-million polygon render of the subject inside. It’s not unlike the rig built by Autodesk to show their 123D Capture software, save for the next step: instead of a fixed 3D render, the output gets assigned to a wireframe that generates the controllable articulation, allowing your digital character to mimic human movement — running, jumping, and even breakdancing becomes a snap.

The scans are so detailed that the operators need to lower the poly count to the 100k range to allow the video game engine to use it. Alexx Henry explains that the high resolution will future-proof the scans for quite some time, which can also be 3D printed in extremely high quality or manipulated with design software. He touts the texture quality of the scans as a large part of their realistic effect: “That’s something we can really hang our hat on.”

Motion capture for video games has progressed incredibly since the not-so-long-ago days of requiring studio-sized rigs to track athletes wearing ping-pong balls attached to funny spandex suits to generate single movements. With photogrammetry booths and advanced computing power, we’re seeing near-instantanous digital-render manipulation becoming an exciting reality.

Mike Senese

Mike is the Executive Editor of MAKE magazine. Follow @msenese


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