Monday, November 13th, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Xsens releases MVN Animate 2018

Xsens has released MVN Animate 2018, a new version of the motion-capture software designed for use with its MVN range of inertial mocap suits, previously known as MVN Studio.

The software processes data generated by MVN suits, handling calibration, playback and editing, and exporting the processed to a range of common DCC and real-time applications.

Xsens claims that by resolving traditional problems with inertial capture, like magnetic distortion, MVN Animate 2018 can now match the quality of the data generated by optical motion-capture systems.

Inertial versus optical capture
While Xsens’s technology has been used on major games and VFX movies – credits include the FIFA, Iron Man and X-Men franchises – it has tended to be used where a lightweight capture system is required.

Examples include live projects – Epic Games used an Xsens suit in its eye-catching 2016 GDC keynote – field recordings, previz and in-studio reference shoots.

In such conditions, the advantages of inertial capture – that you don’t have to set up cameras and markers, that you aren’t confined to a fixed capture volume, and that you can record anywhere – come to the fore.

In situations where set-up time and space are less at a premium, optical motion capture systems are still widely used, due to the quality of the data they generate – something Xsens now hopes to address.

Putting data quality on a par with optical systems?
In its marketing material for MVN Animate, Xsens claims that the software is “now the only inertial-based motion capture solution that can go head to head with optical systems on accuracy of data”.

The firm claims that the new release can “solve the ‘unsolvable'”, resolving “issues that have plagued inertial motion capture in the past: primarily, magnetic distortion”.

The technical details are discussed at greater length in this blog post, but in essence, Xsens claims to have resolved errors in capture due to magnetic materials or electrical currents in the surrounding environment.

To prove its point, the company’s new demo, shown in the videos above, is recorded in an environment with a lot of magnetic materials: an actor running between stacks of metal shipping crates.

The raw data from the session is even available to download on Xsens’s website.

And while no firm would release data from tests in which its technology didn’t peform well, Xsens’s blog also features quotes from a number of beta users testifying to the reduction in magnetic distortion effects.

Most are from academic institutions, but there is one from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios.

Now also targeting the IoT market with new owner mCube
In separate news, Xsens also has a new owner: up-and-coming motion sensor developer mCube has acquired the company from its previous owner, electronics giant ON Semiconductor.

According to Xsens’s blog post, the company will continue to operate as a standalone business unit under its current name. No job losses are expected as a result.

The two firms will work together together to develop new products using mCube’s sensors, particularly targeting the emerging Internet of Moving Things market.

Pricing and availability
MVN Animate 2018 is available for Windows only. The software is available in standard and Pro editions.

The base edition exports data in FBX, BVH and C3D formats and direct to Maya, MotionBuilder and Unity; the Pro edition adds more export plugins, support for live streaming, timecode data and a reference camera.

The software is available bundled with Xsens’ MVN Awinda and Link suits. Xsens tells us that the pricing of the bundles hasn’t changed since we last reported on it.

Xsens is also working on MVN Analyze 2018, a new version of the software designed for sports science and biomechanics research. The edition was previously known as MVN Studio Biomech.

Read more about MVN Animate 2018 on Xsens’s blog

Download a trial edition of MVN Animate 2018 and raw data from Xsens’s demo (Registration required)