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Bringing Movement to Life: Motion Capture Technology at Husson's iEX Center

Published on: January 30, 2023

A student and faculty members work with the

Imagine an athlete – a football player perhaps. While nursing an injury from a game, this player (a quarterback) enters a studio and is recorded making the motion of throwing a ball. Analysts pore over live data from the player's movements and can make determinations about the severity of the injury and even map out exactly how far the quarterback will now be able to throw.

Now imagine a live show, with actors performing as superheroes. Amidst the live stunt work and choreography, suddenly one character appears to blast a fireball at another. It shouldn't be possible, but you've just seen it happen, for real, right in front of you. 

The technology to make these scenarios a reality isn't some far-off tech dream. It exists right now. And not just in some Silicon Valley lab either: it's right here, on the Husson University campus at our iEX Center. You can get hands-on with this technology right now, and even take courses or pursue a major that will prepare you for a future career working on the cutting edge. 

Motion Capture Technology

Motion tracking suit sensor

The key to these high-tech hypotheticals lies in motion capture technology. As the name implies, motion capture utilizes special sensor-covered suits and high-powered cameras to capture the movement of objects or people. The technology has been widely used in a variety of fields for quite a while: Video game companies, for example, have been using motion capture technology to create more realistic movement and animation since the 1990s. Motion capture has also become an essential tool for filmmakers. From Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy to all the principal characters in the recent hit Avatar: The Way of Water, motion capture has allowed the creation of fantastical characters that can move and emote like real people.

Both of those usages of motion capture involve filming a performer in a motion capture suit, and then having graphic artists and visual effects technicians animate over the recording later. Other uses of motion capture – including the ones you can learn about and practice at Husson – involve utilizing the technology in real-time settings. These include scenarios like the ones mentioned above, of course, but others as well. Data analysis, on-the-job training, medicine: all of these areas and more can be enhanced by motion capture technology.

State-of-the-Art Technology

The iEX Center located on the campus of Husson University

As part of Husson's Extended Reality program, Husson students have multiple opportunities to get hands-on with motion capture technology and see what it can do to bring real movement and people into virtual settings, as well as see firsthand how motion capture can bring the virtual into the real world. 

To do that, they get to use a wide range of some of the most cutting-edge technology available today. The iEX Center is home to three Rokoko Kits which allow for the capture of motion capture data from a portable kit. Students at the Center can also use a bHaptics suit that registers sensory stimulation in virtual space, and a Leica BLK 360 LIDAR scanner which is used to create digital twins of environments for people in VR or motion capture suits to interact with. There are 10 projectors on site that can be used to create digital environments and objects, bringing augmented reality into the real world. Combined with motion capture, these projectors can allow someone to seamlessly interact with virtual objects.

The various tools all come together in the Virtual Production System (VPS), composed of room-sized LED walls and a ceiling that combines computers, Pixotope production software, motion capture systems, and more hardware, all run through the powerful Unreal Game Engine to create fully immersive virtual environments. You can enter the system and find yourself exploring a faraway planet, or simply inside a local pub for training on the best ways to serve people (without disturbing actual customers).

Of course, technology moves fast in such high-tech fields, so students at Husson aren't simply trained on these technologies, but are instructed on the fundamental and foundational principles that power this technology. That way, you'll come away from Husson ready to adapt your skills to any new motion capture and extended reality technology you encounter, and even have the skillset to create your own and push this field into the future. 

The possibilities are truly endless. 

Enroll at Husson to Experience and Be Trained on the Latest Motion Capture Technology

Ready to try it all yourself? You can. It starts by applying online for the School of Technology and Innovation. From there, you'll have the opportunity to study the latest in this field and develop skills that will prepare you for a variety of high-demand careers. Don't wait – set your dreams into motion at Husson!

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