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Sirti Bestows Award of Honor
October 21, 2010. Billie Moreland, PhD, of Billie Moreland and Associates and Steve Simmons, PhD, E...

Triangle %u201CGraduates%u201D at Sweet Sixteen
The Idea (1994)
In June 1994, while on a layover in the San Francisco airport, Dr. Steve Simmons cam...

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09/30/2007 - EWU Debuts Mocap Lab

3D animation and game development students in Eastern Washington University’s Computer Science Department (EWU CS) have an exciting new tool. New this fall, the EWU CS motion capture (Mocap) laboratory is set up and ready to go. Motion capture is a technique of digitally recording movements for entertainment such as games and sports, as well as medical applications. The first production using the new mocap laboratory will be an animation of the EWU eagle mascot, Swoop, and the digital production will be displayed on Eagle’s score boards at various athletic events.

The new laboratory uses Meta Motion equipment which includes eight cameras and supports dual actors. It is a passive optical system with a twenty-foot capture, and includes the capability of full body movement, face, and hands. Each of the eight digital cameras contains an infrared light detecting system – detecting only infrared light. Each camera lens is surrounded by a ring of infra-red emitting LED’s that will work with any ambient light. Each actor wears a special black suit and head covering with “firefly” markers at the active motion points of the actor – the knees, elbows, shoulders, wrists, etc. These markers are the only thing that the camera can see, and the cameras track each firefly dot separately. All of the information is stored in one powerful host computer. The information is stored in real time, can be “read” in real time, and further manipulated in real time, to produce an output animation driven by the human actors.

The cameras are normally ceiling mounted, but they may be moved onto tripods at any level needed to best capture the motions of the actors. The actors will move according to a previously prepared script, and they will move in a normal way – not slow motion or in any exaggerated way. After the motion has been captured, using other animation software, the movement can be adapted -- in real time -- to animate a fictional character. That character, whether Swoop the Eagle, King Kong, or Santa Claus, will be animated to move in the way that character would be expected to move. The ability to capture just head or hand motion enhances the ability to create “close-up” animation.

EWU CS has the special black suits in many, many different sizes to fit nearly any student. The suits have a minimum of nineteen markers, and as many as twenty-seven. Because the system works in real time, if a slightly different set of motions are needed, they can be “filmed” immediately.

Initially, students of junior level or higher will use the laboratory. Although 3-D animation and game development students will find the lab especially helpful, all multimedia students are expected to use it as well. A gateway course, Multimedia Techniques, is being taught by EWU CS this fall quarter at the Riverpoint Campus. For more information, contact Stu Steiner, EWU Computer Science, ssteiner@mail.ewu.edu, phone: 509-359-4296.

Billie Moreland
 
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