I've hit a little pothole in my road to designing the cheapest mocap system I can. Remember how I said it's hard to find cameras? Mocap Update 3
Little mocap recap: I went down to the store, got fabric, ordered a pattern off the internet, and the pattern arrived 2 days late.... While waiting for it to come in the mail, I looked into cameras a little deeper. It's not working out as well as I'd hoped.
I'd found a type of software that uses webcams to track the position of a bright green light in 3D space, but that system was used for virtual, 3D drawing with a single light to track position and render it out into a 3D mesh, not movement tracking with several lights. Considering I absolutely cannot find anyone with a mocap system under several thousand dollars, I've decided I'd have to start looking outside the money-hungry industry.
I can probably use similar software to that light-tracking 3D drawing software I saw, but it means I'd have to redesign my suit. It also ramps up the cost of making the suit a bit, and also increases the working time, and technical know-how requirements of making the suit.
This is the pothole... My design could possibly go from a "simple arts and crafts level" to "intermediate DIY level". For those of you who aren't as avid a do-it-yourself-er as I am, that would be like going from Kiaoken to Super Saiyan 2.
I'm still waiting on someone to reply to me with information on his company's cameras, but I'm not too impressed by what I've seen, so far.
First, despite the website allowing a custom camera count input, it still automatically changed from 3 cameras to 4, after I submitted the request form, that, or the custom input part of the form is broken, and it just defaulted to the standard minimum of 4.
Second, despite the form requiring me to fill out what I need them for, the dimensions of my studio, and the number of cameras I require, the dude who emailed me insisted on asking me directly what I'd need them for, how many I needed, and the dimensions of my capture space.... Fantastic use of a form, guys. Really makes me a whole-lot confident you have any idea what you're doing.
Third, it took 2 days for him to ask his questions. First email was like "Are you comfortable talking openly about your needs? Oh, and I won't be in the office until tomorrow, so I can't reply back until then." And then when he asked his questions, he either didn't like what I asked for and did the classy corporate move of deciding not to reply back, or he took Friday and the weekend off, and hasn't seen my email yet.
I fucking hate dealing with corporations directly. This is why I don't do "contact us for a quote" setups. They always use it as a vetting process to unfairly discriminate against people who aren't mega corporations. They want Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, big name brands, and they use their "receive a quote" as a handy cover to prevent plebeian indie devs like me from soiling their precious fucking crap with our peasant indie-grime. It's bullshit.
Come tomorrow, if Cubicle Von Corporateman hasn't replied back, I'm going to assume his corporate boner went limp when I gave him my budgetary limit, and I'm going to approve my redesign, and start finding mocap methods that circumvent the industry guardians.
I mean, look at this! This embarrassing typo was found on a website for a different company. These are the industry standard "professionals".
That message is also a lie... They completely ignored me the first time. I went back a week or two later to make a second request, and they gave me a bullshit quote. Their site says their cameras are $600... $600 x 6 = $8500. That's off by more than double...
Every site claims that 6 cameras are the absolute minimum for game engine motion capture. Screw the rules, I have green hair!
I've made a little progress constructing my guide, and a little progress constructing my suit. I have two of the four major pieces cut out. There's more to do than that, but the 4 major pieces are the body pieces. (For some reason, this pattern has a seam running up the middle in the front...
I've been a little lazy cutting out the pieces, because the only surface in my apartment big enough for full body cutouts is my bed. I can't use the floor, because my bedroom is too small, and I can't use the living room floor because there's no way my cats wouldn't be all over my materials and supplies, getting their hair in it, sticking their claws in my fabric and ruining it, and playing with and wrecking the crinkly pattern paper.
So I have to close myself in my bedroom and use the bed. My bed isn't exactly tall, nor is it sitting on a frame, because bed frames are stupid, and I don't own one. It's like those table cloth protectors. You got a table cloth to protect your table, but then people decided that they wanted to keep the table cloth nice, too, so now there are protectors for your table protectors... I already have a bed stand, that's the box spring. I don't need a stand for my stand.
But this means that I have to bend over. I have to bend over my bed to set up my cardboard cutting board, I have to bend over to lay out and adjust the fabric so it's straight, I have to bend over to lay out the pattern sheet, bend over to cut out the pattern piece, bend over to pin the pattern piece to the fabric, which is time consuming, because you have to pin every couple inches, and bend over to cut the fabric out, which is also very time consuming, because you need to be as accurate as possible while cutting, so you can't rush. Cutting out the pattern, pinning the pattern, and cutting the fabric are made even more time consuming by the fact that I'm making something the size of my adult body.
Albeit a short, adult body, but 5 feet is still a lot of pinning and cutting. (I told you I'm a computer nerd, twink. Shortness kind of runs in the family.... I'm actually 2 inches taller than my mom, and my brother.) And, no, I'm not 5 feet tall, I'm 5' 6". The design excludes my head, obviously. And my feet, for that matter, so it's probably something more like 4' 10" of fabric...
By the time I have a piece cut out, my back is aching. And when you have to cut, pin, and cut again 5 feet of material 4 times, you definitely want to take a break if your back is hurting after just 1. I can only imagine how much more this would suck if I were 6 feet or more and had to bend over further and deal with an extra foot or more of fabric.
Anyway, I plan on doing more, today. (My back is already aching just thinking about how much my back is going to hurt...)
And as for redesigning my suit, I think I have exactly the idea I need to make use of the new style I'll be looking into. The redesign is kind of convenient, because I was getting a little stuck on my previous one. That doesn't necessarily mean I have this one 100% worked out, but the new design allows for more options.
But not to worry, I'll figure it out. I've always been a smart little bastard. The first thing I remember really taking charge on was learning to wipe my own ass. Those early years where you're still too young for school, and too old for diapers is rough. I remember how much it would suck, having to use the big toilet. I'd be stranded on the toilet sometimes for minutes, waiting for mom to come rescue me, and when you're that young, a minute can seem like an eternity. At some point, mom started getting more busy. Or, that's what it seemed to my just-post-toddler brain. Now that I look back on it, she probably realized she had a little more freedom now that her child was not only becoming more independent, but showing levels of intelligence, behavior, and rational thinking that meant I wasn't going to be doing retarded shit if she took her eyes off me for a minute.
Either way, one day, I was stranded on the toilet longer than I'd ever been. Sadly, the best kept memories are the most embarrassing. Mom had gone outside to do something in the yard. Hell if I remember what, I barely paid attention to things at that age. Couldn't even get me to read a 12 page book for crying out loud. Anyway, she wasn't able to hear me calling for her. It ended up being my grand-dad who had to come wipe my ass. It was the first time I'd ever felt real, lasting humiliation in my life. But that day was turning point, I decided I was done being stranded, and I didn't want to have something like a grand-parent wiping my ass to happen ever again.
Pretty next-level thinking for a kid who had only recently been potty trained... Anyway, the very next time I had to have someone wipe my ass, I paid close attention to the steps involved, and that was the last time someone else had to wipe my ass for me.
The next most significant moment in my life was tying my own shoes, so... again, fairly young, but by this time, I was in school. (Probably 2nd or 3rd grade). When you're the oldest child, you quickly start to understand that your siblings come first, and it can be hellish, especially for a little kid. I would have to wait for my parents to tie my shoe laces, often both of my brothers coming before me. So I'd have to sit there, waiting however long it took (probably only a few minutes or so, but again, when you're a kid, a minute can seem like so long) for them to get to me, and when my siblings struggled and fought getting dressed, it would take that much longer to get to me.
And once again, I was getting sick of relying on someone else. Sometimes I wanted to play outside, or sometimes I got sick of sitting there with loose laces, waiting as they got my siblings ready to go ahead of me. After a string of too-many-long-waits-in-a-row for my laces to be tied, I took the same initiative I'd taken before, and I silently watched as my dad tied my laces, memorized the steps to doing a bow knot, and that was the last time anyone had to tie my laces for me.
Two of my absolutely oldest memories are of me disliking having to rely on someone else who is too busy to always get to me right away, and instead of someone having to teach me how to do it, to be independent, I taught myself. Essentially I got tired of how things were run, and took it upon my little-kid-self to do something about it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is how a do-it-yourself-er is born.
It still amazes me that I was that smart at such a young age... I'm pretty damn impressed with my kid-self. If I could go back in time, I'd give myself a high-five, because kid-me deserves it. Unfortunately I grew up into an idiot.
Anyway, now that my auto-fellatio is finished, don't worry too much about the steps being tougher for the completion of the suit. No matter how hard I have to work to make this quest a reality, I'm still going to go into complete detail making my instructions, and I'm still giving it all away for free. My goal is to put the power of motion capture into the hands of indies, not to make money, and not to hoard it for myself.
The power is yours!
(Ok, I know that show is dumb and preachy as fuck, but that's still one of the coolest lines ever...)