This article is available in: French
At SIGGRAPH 2023, Vicon unveiled their machine learning powered markerless motion capture technology. The widely known British company showcased it using a VR experience in collaboration with VR company Dreamscape Immersive and research institute Artanim (which is behind Dreamscape’s VR tech platform).
The VR experience is named Clockwork Forest. 6 people were immersed in the VR experience at the same time. No backpack, no suit: the goal was to create a frictionless immersive experience. And an opportunity for Dreamscape to pivot away from backpack PCs.
The new Vicon markerless technology was used to do full body tracking (fingers were also tracked, but this was done by the headset, not using any Vicon technology).
Vicon CTO Mark Finch gave us more information about this project.
Of course, this body tracking requires cameras installed in the experience volume. The setup is therefore reminiscent of what you would have on a mocap set, but these are not motion capture cameras. Vicon doesn’t give too much information at this stage, and explains that the setup used at SIGGRAPH is not really representative of what will be required when the product is available. We were not allowed to take pictures of the experience, but you’ll find a trailer for below, as well as a making-of video.
As Vicon explains, this markerless solution “has been in research and development for nearly three years” in their Oxford, UK R&D facility.
Vicon also explained us that this new tracking technology can be used in a multimodal way: iyou can combine markerless marker-based mocap at the same time. During this VR experience, the body was tracked without any marker, while props, for example, did have markers on them.
This markerless technology isn’t market-ready yet, but Vicon launched a “markerless Pioneer program“. People and companies joining this program will have a voice in the direction taken by this innovation, and become “beta testers as it becomes available”. This program is aimed first and foremost at mocap influencers, evangelists, end user organisations from the VFX community (including LBE/VR and virtual production).
Vicon explained us that this new tech will ultimately be targeted at a wide audience, “across several industries from engineering to life sciences, entertainment, aerospace and defense and beyond”.
Does this mean mocap with markers is on the way out at Vicon? Not at all. As Vicon told us, “there is a time and a place for mocap with markers, and it’s very reliable and accurate, and we have customers that will always use that”, but since markerless mocap removes the barriers of needing to put markers on people, it increases throughput which is important for markets such as Location Based Entertainment.
We will follow upcoming Vicon announcements regarding this markerless solution. In the meantime, if you want to try out Clockwork Forest by yourself, this experience is available at Dreamscape LA and Geneva.