Motion Capture

Human motion is very difficult and time consuming to animate. Motion capture animation is likely to be superior because it is ‘real’ and it is also quick to produce, provided you have the equipment.

The equipment used to be only affordable by Universities and specialist companies, but with the mass production of the Microsoft Xbox Kinect motion capture in available to everyone.

There are two video tutorials that show you how to use motion capture data with Blender-

  • The first one (three parts) looks at the bvh file format and creates a very simple rig (mesh parts connected to bones).
  • The second tutorial (two parts) shows how to connect a skin to a motion capture armature.

Importing Motion Capture Data (.bvh) Files and Setting Up a Simple Rig Part 1

Here are the files you need to do the three parts of the tutorials –

The first part of the tutorial looks at –

  • The file structure of bvh files, the most common human motion capture file format.
  • The bvhacker utility, which is useful for looking at and editing bvh files prior to import into Blender.
  • Importing the a bvh file and making adjustments in Blender.

Part 2

The second part of the tutorial shows how create a simple rig by connecting mesh parts  to the armature created when you import a motion capture (bvh) file.

Part 3

The third part of this video tutorial  shows –

  • How to complete the simple rig by connecting mesh parts to the armature created when you import a motion capture (bvh) file.
  • How to modify the armature in edit mode to make the shoulders broader.
  • The ‘work flow’ for bringing in other motion capture data that works with the armature.
  • Some websites where you can get software that allows you to capture motion data using Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect.

Files used in the tutorial –

Tutorial Connecting a Skin to a Motion Capture Armature Part 1

Similar to the tutorial ‘Importing Motion Capture Data (.bvh) Files and Setting Up a Simple Rig’ but this time a complete skin is connected to the armature.

The techniques used in this tutorial are simpler and shorter and there is less information about the bvh file format (you will have to look at the other tutorial for that).

Key points –

  • How to import a motion capture file (bvh).
  • How to scale and rotate the resultant armature.
  • How to connect chains of bones (arms, legs and head and neck).
  • How to modify the animation using the dope sheet and how to save multiple actions using the action editor.
  • How to set the armature into a T-pose ready to connect to a skin.
  • How to append a skin into a Blender file.

Part 2

The second part of the tutorial shows how to match the skin to the armature and how to connect them. It also shows how to append other actions to give the rig a range of animations stored in a single file.

Key points –

  • Moving and scaling the skin to match the armature.
  • Moving joints (e.g elbow, wrist) of the armature to match the skin.
  • Connecting the skin to the armature by creating a parent child relationship.
  • Testing the rig with the original motion capture animation.
  • Appending another motion capture animation.


Useful Links