One of the many joys of SIGGRAPH is getting to explore all of the new visualization technology first-hand. Among the coolest things we saw was OptiTrack's demo, combining advanced real-time motion-capture technology with virtual reality.
For those unfamiliar with the terminology, motion-capture (or "Mo-cap" for short) records the movements of a set of points through a 3d space, usually to translate a human actor's live-action performances into a CGI character in a film, or to produce animations which can be reused for video game characters. What both of these applications have in common is that the motion capture itself can take place long before any audience sees the resulting animations attached to a digital character, allowing any computationally expensive processing stage (or manual fixing of animations due to any hiccups in the capture process) to be hidden by the inherent time delay.
OptiTrack, on the other hand, works in the relatively new field of real-time motion-capture, which delivers highly accurate results with essentially no time delay between the capture process and the visualization it is driving. The demo we played with gave us the opportunity to play virtual-reality basketball with a real basketball, with a partner who appeared as an android in game, but was being animated by the actions of a real human in the same room.
OptiTrack has published an official demo video, but we thought you'd have more fun watching Kerm and I try it for ourselves.
We've highlighted several of the challenges we faced while playing basketball in the VR/motion-capture setting, but it was certainly an amazing technology and we can't wait to see how it develops in the near future.