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New motion capture tech could digitize your dog into video games

A new motion capture system can create digital avatars of dogs after filming them with a single camera.

Typically, digitizing a dog is like digitizing a person: it involves multiple cameras and a canine version of those ball-coated motion capture suits — but a team of computer scientists at the University of Bath did away with all that, according to research shared on the team’s GitHub. It’s an unusual development, but one that could vastly improve fields ranging from animation to veterinary care.

The team started with the usual getup: multiple cameras and the motion capture suit. After training a computer model on the gait and poses of 14 dog breeds, however, all the extra hardware became unnecessary. Now, a single RGBD camera — which also records how distant objects are is enough for the model to accurately detect and predict a dog’s movements and recreate them virtually.

“For the entertainment industry, our research can help produce more authentic movement of virtual animals in films and video games,” Bath researcher Sinéad Kearney said in a press release. “Dog owners could also use it to make a 3D digital representation of their pet on their computer, which is a lot of fun!”

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