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    Summary of Replies: Biomechanical Animation
    Dear All:
    The response was overwhelming to my query about creating
    biomechanical animation. I got so may letters I thought I
    was being spammed. In the interest of brevity I will summarize
    letters and not include respondant's addresses; only add email
    addresses and web pages of commercial sites.

    Thanks to all,
    Jeff Ives
    Dept. of Exercise & Sport Sciences Phone: 607-274-1751
    Ithaca College Fax: 607-274-1943
    Ithaca, NY 14850 USA Email:

    Biomechanics Inc.
    Several people wrote that programs from Biomechanics Inc. would
    work. Apparently, they did the Batman and Robin sequence and
    have cartoons of frogs speaking using facial markers in real
    time."The "look" of the animated character is limited only by
    your creativity."

    Vicon from Oxford (UK) ?
    "Their systems have also been used by Hollywood as the basis
    for some of the computer generated animations."

    MetaCreations' Poser
    The largest number of replies mentioned the software "Poser".
    To summarize from one reply: A program I've used for positioning
    realistic human figures for demonstrating stretching exercises is
    called Poser. It has a pretty stiff learning curve, but mostly
    because it has so many features. You can manipulate the 3D figures
    provided (which include everything from animals and babies to
    older adults) by grabbing a limb and moving it into the position
    you want. It also has dials for moving each element of the figure
    precisely, including digits and facial expressions. The figures
    have a kinetic linking feature which moves the limbs in a normal
    relationship to how arms and legs can move (i.e., it won't let
    you easily hyper-extend an elbow on the figure, although you can
    override that if you want to show injuries). It also does animations
    in Quicktime movies and would be much better than stick figures or
    your "Gumby" model. I think it would work very well for your
    purposes of demonstrating Feldenkrais methods. I don't work for the
    company, nor do I have any connections with the company, other than
    I use their product. It's not cheap - US$240-$250, but much cheaper
    than getting a 3D motion analysis system which costs thousands more.

    Metacreations' RayDream Studio
    "You will have to create the model yourself, but you can position
    the limbs using numerical input from biomechanical data (i.e.
    translation and rotation of the segments). The academic price
    should be less than $300."

    Autodesk's 3D Studio
    "Usually used by engineers and architects, but I use it for the
    animation. It has a feature where you can import kinematic data
    on any figure you want. 3D Studio has some ready-made figures but
    they are not cartoon like, one of them is a complete skeleton.
    Now if you know very well this program believe me, it is really
    easy to "transform this skeleton ready-made model to any weird-
    cartoon-like character you want. Since it is a very sophisticated
    program (it costs about $3,000) I suggest to find a friend that
    has this program and perform a demo to you."

    Peak Performance
    "You can use most motion measurement systems to produce data that
    can be read by animation packages such as 3D Studio MAX from
    Discreet. Our web site at has some
    examples of what can be done with motion capture and animation
    packages, and gives links to other useful sites. Peak's web site
    at also gives some useful information.
    Peak also sell a simple video based plug in for 3D Studio MAX
    called Kinecapture, that is specifically designed for this type
    of application. Kinecapture also has the advantage of being
    considerably cheaper than most motion measurement systems!

    Briefly, you can take 3D coordinate data from a motion measurement
    system, and then use it to drive an animated character, with each
    sample from the motion measurement system providing a series of keys
    for the animation. With 3D Studio MAX, for example, you can control
    the movements of an underlying "bone" structure for simple motion,
    or you can use a plug in for 3D Studio MAX called Character Studio
    for whole body animation. The 3D package can produce very realistic
    animations that can be output as AVI files, and there are commercial
    3D models available that can be used as your subject. One problem
    that may need to be addressed is that most motion measurement systems
    produce 3 degrees of freedom information (ie. X,Y,Z coordinates),
    but most animation packages need 6 degree of freedom information to
    give position and orientation of segments. Character Studio has
    software tools for converting 3 DOF information into 6 DOF.

    Motion Analysis Inc. ?
    Contact Dean LaCoe at Motion Analysis Inc., in Santa Rosa CA. He
    directs the division of that company that focuses on the use of 3-D
    video data capture in animation. The same hardware/software that we
    use for biomechanics is used by many of the animation studios to do
    exactly what you describe. He can fill you in on all of the details.

    Dan India from Motion Analysis also replied: Please see our web site
    and download our VRML animation for "Gumby"
    Motion Analysis Corporation
    Daniel India, Vice President Biomechanics
    3617 Westwind Blvd
    Santa Rosa, CA 95403 USA
    847-945-1411 F: 847-945-1442
    Fax to Email: 916-314-2180

    Working Model Motion
    Alias Wavefront
    Working Model Motion encorporates capabilities for rigid body
    animation and simulation in 3D. I think it is the easiest to work
    with, and the cheapest to buy. The down side is that you have to
    create the human figure on your own, or get one from someone else.
    Another option is Alias Wavefront, about which I know little. Alias
    is purely animation software, and cannot be used for mechanics.
    A third possibility is ADAMS, which, like Working Model Motion,
    is a combination of simulation and animation packages. ADAMS has
    an "android" package which includes a human figure, although I
    don't know much more than that. I think that ADAMS is more expensive
    than Working Model, and also a little more complicated.

    Transom's "Jack"
    It looks like our Jack (go to our Transom web site to see Jack)
    is very good for your purposes. But it is a commercial ergonomic
    and human simulation software, it is not for free.
    Ovsei Volberg, Ph.D. Phone: 734.761.6001 ext. 238
    Engineering Animation, Inc. Fax: 734.761.7003

    A show on The Learning Channel about the microchip had a segment
    about the folks at Georgia Tech (I don't recall the names of the
    individuals) who were working with the Atlanta Ballet I believe.
    The project involved dancers wearing some biomechanical sensors which
    allowed the computer to record their movements and translate them
    into an animated character's movement real time. You may want to
    try investigating how they accomplished this.

    Filmbox from Kaydara
    They make a product call FilmBox and they can interface with approximately
    anything. They made the special effects of "The Matrix" and, by contacting
    them, you can receive a demo reel of their product.
    4428 Saint-Laurent, suite 300
    Montréal (Québec) Canada
    H2W 1Z5
    Tel: (514) 842-8446
    Fax: (514) 842-4239

    Puppetworks ( "The prices might be prohibitive,
    but it looks like interesting technology."

    A company (name unknown) claiming their software
    was used for scenes from the 5th Element.

    The Will Vinton group in Portland does high level entertainment animation.

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