Let’s See: Live Motion Capture VR

Chris Burns - Mar 22, 2016, 3:00 pm CDT
Let’s See: Live Motion Capture VR

Now that we’ve got the first consumer-level VR headsets out in the wild, it’s only a matter of time before we see full motion capture immersion. What I mean is when you see someone inside the virtual world, you’ll see their whole body. Their face will reflect what’s actually being shown on their actual head in real time. Their body will be represented by a reasonably reconstructed virtual version of their real form. All we need is faster internet and the world’s best GPUs.

First you’re going to want to have a peek at a demonstration done by the folks at Ninja Theory. They’ve constructed a real-time performance capture setup that works with Unreal Engine. It’s astoundingly realistic.

Consider that. Quality as good or better than motion-capture performances we’ve seen in major motion pictures released over the past 10 years.

Now consider how this is being done not only for films, but for video games and interactive play apps as well. Virtual reality meeting rooms – and lecture halls.

Below you’ll see the app Lecture VR. This app is being released for the HTC Vive first – it’s in Alpha at the moment.

In the app you get not only the ability to walk around in a room-sized space (enabled by the HTC Vive), you get to see and interact with others with their own VR headsets in this space in real time.

A teacher can make a presentation at the head of the class, and the class can be in 100 different locations around the world, all at once. This sort of experience enables the feeling of PRESENCE at the lesson, with the teacher and fellow students. This is different from watching a live video – impersonal and flat.

Once we’re able to enable real-looking bodies and faces, the feeling of real presence will be boosted again.

The app FaceRig gives a good example of how simple real-time face tracking can be. This app is available on Steam right this minute, and it doesn’t require that you have a monster PC to run it.

FaceRig’s collection of wild and other-worldly faces available for live motion capture use raises another point: you don’t need to look like yourself. This is virtual reality, after all. You can escape the real world and look like whomever or whatever you like.

All the way back in April of 2015, we’d begun discussing the work Lucasfilm was doing with live motion capture for Star Wars interactive experiences. We now know that they were working on everything from Maz Kanata to VR apps like Trials on Tatooine.

Live motion capture has become both real and extremely realistic for home computers to work with. While we may end up needing additional cameras to enable it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had full-body motion capture for Virtual Reality environments by the end of the year 2016.

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