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Dollars Mocap: Full Body Webcam Motion Capture (Including Hands and Fingers) For iClone and Cartoon Animator

TET demonstrating Dollars Mocap's webcam hand motion capture.
Even though I should be further away from the camera
Dollars Mocap MONO still does a good job of 
tracking my arms, hands and fingers.
Ever since I wrote my series on becoming a VTuber, discovering it was possible to do full body motion capture, including hands and fingers, with just software and a webcam, I've been on the look out for any motion capture software that can bring that functionality to Cartoon Animator.

Dollars Mocap is a low cost motion capture application with a free trial that I learned about through the YouTube Channel Digital Puppets and their test video. It can record full body, upper body, arms and hands, and facial mocap from a live video source or pre-recorded video.

Investigating further, I discovered not only does Dollars Mocap have a free iClone7, iClone8 character profile file download (look for it at the bottom of the main program download page), so you can use the saved motions with iClone8, they've also got a demo video for how to convert your motion capture for Cartoon Animator.

Dollars Mocap comes in five different versions:
  • MONO - Face and Body Motion Capture (webcam).
  • DEEP - Same as Mono but supports certain Depth Cameras (not iPhone though).
  • EGAO - Just the Face Capture part of Mono - Completely free online use.
  • VIVA - Motion Capture with VR equipment.
  • MOTS - Create 3D motions from text prompts - also free but requires some hefty computing specs and storage space.
MONO is the one I've been testing, using their free trial account, which requires you to login every time you start the program, and limits the length of recording motion capture to about 20 seconds at a time before having to restart the software.

To purchase MONO it's a one time payment of US$99.00 for life time access including future upgrades, no limit on number of installs, and you no longer need to be online to use it after a successful login.

Dollars Mocap for Hand and Finger Motion Capture

I'm not going to take you through every step for how to use Dollars Mocap here. The software is actually very easy to learn. For hand and upper body motion capture just make sure all the button icons match mine in the image below:

Dollars Mocap MONO User Interface Labeled.
All of the settings are pretty easy to work out. Showing the face capture window
is optional since you can't import the facial motion capture into Cartoon Animator.

While Dollars Mocap can perform both full body motion capture and facial motion capture what sets it apart is its ability to motion capture upper body motions including arms, hands, and fingers with just a webcam. Prior to this the only option for Cartoon Animator was to buy additional hand mocap hardware.

Unfortunately Dollars Mocap can't capture live hand movements (or any kind of motion capture) directly into Cartoon Animator. Currently you can only record motions with Dollars Mocap as .BVH files (which are saved to the application's program folder automatically) and then convert them to 3D .rlMotion files with iClone8 or 3DXchange7, that you then import into Cartoon Animator.

Garry Pye's Stan Demonstrating Upper body, Hand, and Finger Mocap created with Dollars Mocap MONO.
Garry Pye's Stan demonstrating
upper body, hand, and finger
mocap created with Dollars
Mocap MONO. Click to Play.
That said the results are still very good, and open up the possibility of creating your own library of very specific motion captured hand gestures, not represented in the bone hand templates. Watch my YouTube Short Demo using Garry Pye's Stan.

It would be a game changer if Dollars Mocap made a Cartoon Animator Direct Plugin so we could skip iClone and live puppet characters (with full facial mocap) directly. Maybe in a future update. There's certainly a market there for them.

How to Convert Dollars MONO .BVH File to .rlMotion

If you have iClone8 just follow Dollar Mocap's own video (below). Skip over this for to how to make the conversion with 3DXchange. Either way you'll need to have downloaded the Character Profile for iClone7, iClone8 from the Dollars Mocap Download Page before you start.


Note that they tell you to select a front facing character in Cartoon Animator. This isn't actually essential since you'll be taken into the Import 3D Motion editor where you can adjust the angle of the motion to match the angle of the character you've chosen.

Converting with iClone 3DXchange7

Step by Step instructions for converting your motion capture file.
Visuals to help you with the step by step
instructions. Click to enlarge.
If you are fortunate enough to have a copy of 3DXchange7 (which is no longer available since all of its functionality was built into iClone8). Follow these steps: (again you'll need to have downloaded the Character Profile for iClone7, iClone8 from the Dollars Mocap download page).

  1. Open 3DXchange and drag your recorded .BVH file from Dollar Mocap onto the stage.
     
  2. In the Modify Window, scroll down to Character (N) and under Character Setup click the Convert to Non-Standard button.
     
  3. At the very top of the conversion window that appears you'll need to click the load button to import the Character Profile for iClone7,iClone8. Once the bones change color, leave all the other settings as is and click the Convert button down the bottom. 
     
  4. Click the Okay button to the message window that comes up and ignore the message to click the Apply to iClone button. This will just open iClone and import the bone model with no animation. To convert the motion capture we don't even need to open iClone.
     
  5. If you want you can preview the motion in 3DXchange by selecting the motion in the Perform Editor window (in the Modify Window) and then clicking the play button on the player bar.
     
  6. To save the motion select Export from the file menu. In the window that appears make sure only Export Animation is checked. If you wish you can change the Destination to Other and browse to a folder so you'll know exactly where to find your saved .rlMotion. Click Okay and you're done with 3DXchange.
     
  7. Open Cartoon Animator and place a character with Bone Hands on the stage - characters with sprite hands are not compatible with hand motion capture. Drag your save .rlMotion file onto the character.
     
  8. The 3D Motion Editor window will open with the motion linked to your character. You can now adjust and preview all the settings until you get the motion looking its best, at which point you click Apply to Timeline and you're done.
Dollars Mocap is not exclusive to any one application. There are a number of applications you can use it with including Blender and several VTuber apps, making its one time purchase price seem even more valuable.

Let's hope either Dollars Mocap or Reallusion make a profile for their Motion Live 2D plugin that supports live motion capture directly with Dollars MONO to Cartoon Animator real soon. I know I'd buy that in a heart beat.


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