Chordata Is an Open Source Motion Capture Kit

We featured the Chordata motion capture system two years ago, and were impressed by the affordability and capability it offered.

Cameron Coward
2 months agoPhotos & Video / Sensors

Motion capture is practically a necessity for film CGI and high-end video game animation these days. While it is certainly possible to animate computer models manually, like a puppeteer pulling strings, the movement appears far less natural than what you get with motion capture and a human actor. But motion capture systems are traditionally very expensive, putting them out of reach of indie film makers and small video game studios. A couple of years ago, we ran an article about the promising new Chordata motion capture system which was far more affordable than other systems. Now Chordata is available for pre-order and a Kickstarter campaign will be launching soon.

When we first featured the open source Chordata motion capture system back in September of 2018, we were very impressed by the affordability and capability it offered. Now it’s finally available for pre-order through the Chordata website, and a Kickstarter campaign will also be launched in April. While other motion capture systems can work in a variety of ways, the most common is for actors to wear special suits covered in markers. Cameras track those markers and the data is used to animate computer models. Chordata works in a completely different — and more economical — way, yet it seems to produce results that rival many of the more traditional options used by large studios.

The key to the Chordata motion capture system is the use of IMU sensors. Those are the same sensors that are inside your smartphone and give it the ability to detect when you move the phone around. An actor is outfitted with many of those sensors worn on important body parts, like the hands, elbows, feet, knees, and head. A Raspberry Pi collects the data from the sensors, which is then used for animation through the Chordata software. This setup doesn’t have the pinpoint accuracy of camera-based systems, but it appears to be more than sufficient for capturing accurate, lifelike movement.

If you want to pre-order your own Chordata system, the prices range from €346 to €1600. The prices are based on how many sensors you actually require for your work. Orders are expected to be delivered in February of 2021.

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