305 views 0 comments

OptiTrack’s Insight Virtual Camera System

by on July 12, 2010
 

OptiTrack is combining some of their existing properties to create an interesting new gadget they’ve named the ‘Insight Virtual Camera System’, or Insight VCS.  It looks very similar to Intersense’s VCam product, but completely forgoes any attempt to look like a camcorder and instead goes for something lightweight and portable.  The result is a ‘virtual’ camera that can link into tools like Maya and MotionBuilder for live tracking.  Already in use at Halon Entertainment, they have this to say:

“In working with OptiTrack to develop the Insight VCS, Halon helped build a tool that puts film directors and directors of photography in a virtual world they more closely understand,” said Justin Denton, technical developer and previs supervisor at Halon Entertainment. “The value of being able to walk out into a space and explore a virtual world by physically controlling a camera, finding the perfect angles and then shooting multiple takes is truly remarkable. All of this is achieved in a fraction of the time it takes to keyframe a single camera take, and the results are more natural. The Insight VCS has proven invaluable on multiple high-profile film and commercial projects for us here at Halon.”

One of the best parts of the build is the flexibility in price:  As low at $100, or as much as $5,000, depending on features.  Plugins exist for MotionBuilder and Maya, and they have special ‘universal’ plugins to work with systems other than the VCS (like Intersense’s) as well.  The rig is destined for sale later this summer, and will be live on the SIGGRAPH Exhibition Floor (booth #701).

Full press release after the break.

OptiTrack’s Insight VCS Brings “Avatar” Magic to Every Studio

Optical Virtual Camera System Enables Live-action Camera Work for CG Filmmaking at a Competitive Price; Compatible with all Optical Motion Capture Systems

Corvallis, Ore. – July 12, 2010 – Filmmakers and game cinematographers are increasingly turning to real-time virtual production technologies to blend real-world tools with their virtual world. At the heart of this development is the virtual camera. James Cameron revolutionized digital cinematography with his innovative control of the virtual camera using motion capture. This “Virtual Vérité” technology is now being offered for a fraction of the cost, with OptiTrack™’s Insight VCS.

“Our goal has always been to offer full-featured motion capture systems at a price that production companies of every size can afford,” said Jim Richardson, NaturalPoint®® co-founder and lead engineer for the OptiTrack motion capture line. “With the Insight VCS, we’re expanding this vision to include the bleeding-edge virtual camera technology that Cameron made famous with “Avatar” – as usual, at an exceptionally low price. OptiTrack now delivers high-performance body, face and virtual camera mocap for less than anyone else in the world.”

To ensure complete compatibility with a variety of production pipelines, the Insight VCS has been engineered for interoperability with any existing optical motion capture system – including OptiTrack, Vicon and Motion Analysis – that can track marker-based rigid bodies and stream data to Autodesk MotionBuilder or Autodesk Maya.

Developed in close collaboration with Los Angeles-based previsualization company Halon Entertainment, the Insight VCS is the ideal virtual camera solution for a broad range of applications ranging from film and commercial previsualization to digital filmmaking. Throughout the development process Halon tested design iterations in the field, utilizing pre-production versions of the Insight VCS to create content for high profile projects and directors.

“In working with OptiTrack to develop the Insight VCS, Halon helped build a tool that puts film directors and directors of photography in a virtual world they more closely understand,” said Justin Denton, technical developer and previs supervisor at Halon Entertainment. “The value of being able to walk out into a space and explore a virtual world by physically controlling a camera, finding the perfect angles and then shooting multiple takes is truly remarkable. All of this is achieved in a fraction of the time it takes to keyframe a single camera take, and the results are more natural. The Insight VCS has proven invaluable on multiple high-profile film and commercial projects for us here at Halon.”

The Insight VCS is a two-part system, consisting of a hardware camera rig and software interface. As the hardware rig is tracked throughout the motion capture volume, absolute 6 DOF position and orientation data is streamed live via the software plug-in to either MotionBuilder or Maya to drive the virtual camera within the 3D application. Real-time reference video is streamed out of MotionBuilder or Maya back to the VCS display, creating a low-latency visual feedback loop, akin to the viewfinder in an actual digital camera.

Different versions of both the hardware rig and software plug-in are available to fit a variety of existing pipelines and production requirements. Components include:

  • Virtual Camera Rigs: The Insight VCS offers two different hardware rigs for controlling the virtual camera:
    • VCS:Pro
      Designed for professional production work, the VCS:Pro replicates the organic cinematographer’s experience with exceptional fidelity. The professional model includes a 1280×768 HD LCD display for real-time feedback, mappable buttons and joysticks for extensive camera control, and a robust Redrock Micro shoulder mount kit. Markers and posts are included for a variety of marker configurations.
    • VCS:Mini
      The VCS:Mini provides low cost, lightweight and highly flexible access to the virtual camera pipeline. The kit includes an anodized aluminum mount preinstalled on a wireless Xbox 360 game pad, as well as markers and posts.
  • Software Plug-ins: Comprehensive, customizable plug-ins are available for camera work in MotionBuilder and Maya for control over scripts, button mapping, scaling and camera properties. Universal versions of each plug-in are also available for use with non-OptiTrack motion capture systems.

Demonstrations of the Insight VCS will be available at SIGGRAPH 2010, July 26 – 29, at the OptiTrack booth #701. For additional information, please visit www.optitrack.com.

Pricing and Availability
The Insight VCS will ship late summer 2010. Pricing for the camera rig ranges from $199 USD to $5,000 USD. Software plug-ins to MotionBuilder and Maya for OptiTrack systems are $1,000 USD. Universal plug-ins for other motion capture systems are $2,000 USD.

For more information, please contact the company’s headquarters in Corvallis, Ore. at 1-888-865-5535, or visit www.optitrack.com.

About OptiTrack
OptiTrack™ is the leading brand of affordable, high-quality motion capture technology. The OptiTrack product line includes: the Insight VCS; ARENA™, Expression™ and Tracking Tools™ motion capture software; and OptiTrack high-speed motion tracking cameras. Used by facilities world-wide in a variety of markets ranging from film and games to sports training and biomechanics, OptiTrack customers include Halon Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Microsoft Game Studios, Method Studios, Lockheed Martin, NASA, John Deer, and other top studios and developers around the world.

OptiTrack is owned by NaturalPoint®®, one of the leading companies specializing in optical tracking technology. For more information, visit www.optitrack.com.

About NaturalPoint
Based in Corvallis, Ore., NaturalPoint®® is the creator and manufacturer of the OptiTrack™, TrackIR™ and SmartNAV™ family of brands. NaturalPoint specializes in providing innovative control solutions through optical tracking technology, and has developed tracking systems for computers, video games, military simulators and unique display systems. For more information visit NaturalPoint.com.

About Halon Entertainment
Based in Santa Monica, Calif., Halon Entertainment is a premier previsualization studio which has provided mobile teams of artists for short and long term projects with such acclaimed Directors as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and James Cameron. Through constant innovation, Halon Entertainment helps productions to envision, plan, shoot and post to keep more of its budget on the screen. More info at www.halon.com.