Develop examines what OptiTrack's mo-cap tech brings to performance capture

Key Release: Motive

[This feature was published in the June 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

What is it? Motive is a software for managing the motion capture process from set up to performance, editing and exporting
Company: OptiTrack

In recent years OptiTrack and its sister outfit NaturalPoint have made great strides in the games development sector.

The former provides motion capture hardware from affordable, portable solutions right through to cutting-edge cameras capable of handling high volume spaces and complex scenes. And now OptiTrack has a new software offering in the form of Motive, which provides a platform for managing the entire system of an OptiTrack mo-cap setup, from calibration, filming and real-time processing through to the edit processes.

Motive incorporates OptiTrack’s existing engineering into a unified architecture designed to be both flexible and powerful enough to tackle even the most ambitious optical tracking applications.


“We’ve streamlined the entire process of motion capture – from initial set-up and daily prep, to operation during the shoot, through to post-production and export,” explains Brian Nilles, chief strategy officer at OptiTrack.

“We really left no part of the workflow untouched. To give you a sense of scale, we’ve reduced typical set-up and shoot preparation times by more than 75 per cent.”

Such a reduction in the friction of the front end of a mo-cap project might sound like a grand claim, but a closer look at Motive does reveal a highly specialised product with the potential to impact studios embracing motion capture tremendously.

In addition to the workflow changes Motive introduces, the middleware’s core is 64-bit and native real time, which when paired with OptiTrack’s existing catalog of motion capture cameras, provides a system optimised heavily towards 3D precision.

Mo-cap is about capturing every nuance of a given performance, and increasingly there is a demand for, and expectation of, the ability to catch even the slightest movements of the face and fingers. Precision, then, is more important than anything else, and that is where Motive promises to shine.

“Furthermore, because Motive is an open motion capture platform, our free SDKs enable developers to access data at essentially any step in the mo-cap pipeline – from direct camera access, to labeled and unlabeled markers, to solved skeletal data, and everything in between,” continues Nilles.

“This open architecture gives Motive users the freedom to tailor data streaming and solving to match any existing workflow currently in use today. That means customers who have already invested in a pipeline, they can bolt the Motive platform into place and enjoy all the benefits of the OptiTrack solution without rewriting their pipeline.”


Such tailoured tech might sound like it would lurk in the exclusive realm of the triple-A studios, but according to OptiTrack, of its 2,200-plus installations, many are at small and medium sized studio’s sites. And apparently Motive was created with that entire spectrum of studios in mind, from tiny outfits to vast multinational development houses; both of which benefit equally from saving time through streamlined workflows.

“One triple-A game developer commented that Motive turned two hours of daily prep time into just 20 minutes,” reveals Nilles. “Smaller indie developers can enjoy the same streamlined process and manage shoots with less setup and prep time, with a faster pipeline.”

Unsurprisingly, Motive is heavily optimised specifically for its creator’s camera range – which includes the powerful Prime 41 and the affordable, compact V100:R2 – but OptiTrack hasn’t blocked out potential users already committed to other solutions. OptiTrack’s tools remain open to developers, meaning that they can be easily integrated into existing real-time or offline pipelines.

For some time, OptiTrack has provided cameras more suited to smaller outfits, and positioned itself as a champion of democratising motion capture. Motive, say its creators, continues that devotion to making mo-cap something available to every studio.

“From the very beginning, we’ve believed that motion capture never should have been so expensive, nor so hard to do,” concludes Nilles.

“Motive is a great example of an engineered solution that makes mo-cap production easier for our customers every step of the way. In our experience with customers of all types, the smiles become quite regular after we show them the first dozen items that will make their lives easier – and by the 20th, they are simply blown away.”

To read all of Develop’s Key Release technology profiles, visit our archive

About MCV Staff

Check Also

CD Projekt Red settles Cyberpunk 2077 lawsuit for £1.55 million

The studio behind Cyberpunk 2077 has settled a class action lawsuit that was originally filed back in January 2021