New Motion Capture Library

Rokoko makers of the low cost Smartsuit Pro (see our fxguide story), motion capture suite have established a new service and a new business on top of their current motion capture hardware sales.

The company now offers the chance to buy motion capture clips from an online store. The clips are not meant to have been made with the Rokoko Smartsuit Pro (for now). The motion capture clips come from major motion capture studios that have signed on to be a part of the market place. The company has also done a deal to offer this service with extra integration inside Unity. The company has established the Motion Library web site as a clearing house for professionals to post motion capture samples and anyone (who subscribes) to buy them.

While the main Motion Library web site will have motion capture samples for both Unreal (UE4) and Unity. The company has done an initial deal to have Unity users see the market place assets and preview them from inside Unity.

Rokoko’s Motion Library provides Unity users the ability to preview character animations and purchase with without leaving the editor. When a user visits the Asset Store they can download a plugin, that will allow very easy integration with the new library.

The Motion Library already has extensive motion capture assets from a set of AAA professional motion capture studios. Rokoko’s curated and featured ‘Publishers’, including top-tier professional motion capture studios Audiomotion (Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ready Player One, Horizon Zero Dawn, Dying Light) and Centroid (Assassin’s Creed, Godzilla, Doctor Strange). While most major games companies have their own stages, this new library allows anyone to access and instantaneously preview animations on their characters in existing projects, and purchase for just a few dollars.

Rokoko and Unity are located in the same city and have strong ties and Rokoko decided to focus on Unity’s 8M+ developers worldwide initially.  “Our headquarters are in Copenhagen, just five minutes walk away from Unity, who is also headquartered there.  And here in San Francisco my office is one minute away from their office here. So we have been talking to them for a while ..and it just made sense”, explained Jakob Balslev, founder and CEO of Rokoko.

The assets are available in the Motion Library for as little as $1 per asset with a $10 monthly subscription. The pricing model is a little complex but it breaks down like this:

  • to preview the assets in context, one needs both the Unity plugin and the subscription.
  • the subscription does not provide the use of the assets, but these can be additionally bought for around $5  ~ $15 on average, it seems.
  • The user can add the assets into their projects for up to 3 years, after that time the license expires but any content that was made with the data is free and clear and does not time out. In other words, you can download loads of assets and use data set in new projects for 3 years, and anything you make or render you can keep forever in game or project form. You just can’t keep all the data forever. Some users may not like this model, but the capture data files are extremely cheap for the level of complexity and professionalism involved. These are not just anyone submitting any MoCap data, – these files are all curated, clean and professional captures.
  • There is a team feature, if you have say three seats within the same organization, only one person has to buy an asset. In other words, if you buy a walk cycle, then anyone in your team can use it.

Balslev explained the financial side of their thinking ” I think the assets are worth so much. We  talked about pricing a lot and this is where we landed. I think at this level it makes the assets completely accessible and affordable” he explains. “The calculation from our side, is simple, if there were 500,000 downloads from the 8 million users on the Unity platform, … it doesn’t take long, for a company like us, .. it is quickly very financially intersting” He went on to point out that as any one game can require a lot of capture data, since character often need to be able to respond in so many ways during the game. .”I spoke a Danish game development company that made the game and they said for each character in their game they had 16,000 animation assets”, he adds. “That was pretty astounding to me. And so for them it’s, it actually makes it a lot of sense to use the library”.

Users can pre-visualize character interactions, map out scenes, create cut-scenes, and rapidly animate characters in 3D projects with high-quality assets, skipping many of the expensive steps in a typical animation workflow. One of the first AAA motion capture studios to join the project was Audiomotion, below is their promo video outlining and announcing their involvement.

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To launch the new web site Jakob Balslev contacted renowned motion capture actor TJ Storm (Iron Man, Deadpool, Avatar), and produced a short video which is built around TJ Storm performing the Haka in Rokoko’s Smartsuit Pro.

While the Motion Capture library is not a library of Rokoko suit captures, (but of general high end studio captures, normally done on Vicon capture volumes) Blaslev naturally shot this promo with his suit.

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Blaslev met TJ Storm, and just thought he was a talent, amazing, and fascinating person. “I’ve been wanting to do something with him for a while. He has done so much motion capture for actors in Hollywood. He is actually playing the new Predator in the movie that’s come out”. Blaslev is a filmmaker himself which is why he started the Rokoko. Blaslev called TJ Storm, “I had just been in Joshua tree and thought that was just such a beautiful setting. And for a long time I’ve been thinking about the Haka because the Haka was invented by a Maori Chieftain… He needed something to have his army believes that they could defeat this large enemy Army and I thought this dance is a metaphor for the suit – taking on Hollywood and feeling invincible”.

The system uses FBX as the primary delivery format. “The question I am asked is why are we using FBX for the motion data when it can contain so many other things, like backgrounds etc, why not make a special optimised file format? But this raises a lot of questions and these are things that we are going to explore. This whole process of the library has raised a lot of interesting questions for us to explore”, says Blaslev.

No face data yet

At the moment the library does not include facial animation. While the capture studios do facial capture, the library does not yet include any of them. Rokoko does intend to include facial animation but it is not planned to not in the short term. “The reason we’re not doing facial animation to start with is, just to be honest, it’s a bandwidth problem on our development side. It’s hard. It’s really very hard to standardize “, but Blaslev is certainly interested and not ruling it out.

The system is also just Bipeds currently. “Centroid have a lot of horse capture and we almost included it, but we decided against a stick with biped motion” Blaslev explains. We really care about human motion. It’s what we do with the suit. It’s a lot of the focus of what we are doing in training our neural net, Our machine learning (ML) is being trained to clean up animations and we’re going to use ML more and more for the suit especially in real time animation with the suit, – it is just where the company is at right now”.

How it works

The Motion Library is a plugin to the Unity editor that allows users to search, preview, and purchase motion assets from the marketplace natively in the editor. If you are using Unreal you will (soon) be able to go to the web site and buy the same files for UE4 – but the ‘in engine’ preview is only for Unity users.

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