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Burton and South Derbyshire College Receives New Motion Capture Stage

Updated: Mar 28

The new motion capture system at Burton and South Derbyshire College offers exciting opportunities for students and businesses alike.


Burton and South Derbyshire College entrance

Burton upon Trent in East Staffordshire is a town with a rich history of innovation. It is this philosophy that fuels the local economy and inspires the ideology of Burton and South Derbyshire College. As a beneficiary of the Stronger Towns Fund, a programme championing technological advancement across all industries but particularly the creative industries, BSDC has made a commitment to provide a vibrant and outstanding learning experience, helping students realise their aspirations.


With the installation of a cutting-edge motion capture system, the college is ready to deliver courses that educate students on the very latest media production techniques and also offers valuable solutions to the broader business community.



THE ISSUE


Promotional image for Playtonic Games' title, Yooka-Laylee

BSDC has strong ties with the gaming and esports industries, having worked on a number of titles in the past, hence their practical necessity for a motion capture system to create assets, animations and to supplement VFX work. It is crucial for students learning about game development to become acquainted with motion capture, as in modern studios it is an industry standard tool, reducing animation time and increasing realism. Within their Games Development Studios, students work with game studio and BSDC partner, Playtonic Games


Playtonic was founded in Burton, and is well known for producing Yooka-Laylee, a title that many consider to be the spiritual successor to the classic platformer Banjo-Kazooie


While the partnership with Playtonic Games initially sparked the need for a motion capture system, its potential applications extended far beyond game development alone. Various departments within the college also showed enthusiasm for the technology's diverse possibilities. Therefore, it was essential to acquire a system versatile enough to adapt to a range of uses.


Chris Beech, Assistant Principal and Dean of Burton and South Derbyshire College, explained,


“When we started looking into the system we realised it had far more uses - diverse solutions for all our other investments.”


The faculty of sports and physical therapy was keen to explore motion capture as a way to study biomechanics and assess physical performance. BSDC’s Health, Social Care & Science courses would also benefit from the potential of movement analysis to enhance the teaching and research of medical care, encompassing diagnosis, treatment and disease management. 


With the aforementioned goal of contributing to the local economy, Burton and South Derbyshire College were clear in their brief that the system specified had to support commercial applications outside of the scope of education.


Target3D staff Ryan pointing to OptiTrack's Motive software on a TV

“[It’s] that community, that sense of connecting industry sectors and creating solutions not just for our learners and our students but also for the employers and partners we work with…””...This allows us to transfer knowledge, apply research and problem solve.”


“We’re particularly interested in encouraging women in tech, and how we use this technology in conjunction with engineering, health, sport and sciences.”



THE SOLUTION


Target3D installed a motion capture system consisting of 26 OptiTrack PrimeX 13 cameras in a recently refurbished classroom.


The PrimeX 13 is a lightweight, unobtrusive tracking camera, perfect for medium-sized volumes. Comfortably capturing at least four performers within their motion capture stage, it seamlessly integrates with additional hardware to support full performance and finger capture. For BSDC, this includes Standard Deviation iPhone Helmets, which record facial expressions that are then retargeted onto digital avatars, powered by Unreal Engine's MetaHuman Creator. Complementing this are Manus Quantum Mocap Metagloves, motion capture gloves that use sensors to record tracking data, delivering precision finger tracking down to the millimetre. 


Students and professionals can record data for the full range of human movements thereby enhancing the realism of animations and accurately portraying the emotions expressed by the performer.


Outside of creative use, the OptiTrack camera system will also prove highly useful. The PrimeX 13 cameras track passive and active markers and have positional errors of +/-0.20mm. For clinical applications this makes motion capture incredibly reliable.


“This allows us to transfer knowledge and apply research and problem solve. That’s a real game changer for us and something that bolsters not only our curriculum but our partnerships.”


Two people wearing motion capture suits t-posing inside a studio


THE RESULT


With the completion of this installation, Burton and South Derbyshire College has positioned itself among some of the most advanced institutions in the world, including the likes of The Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and MIT.


And there is growing interest about how the system can be utilised.


“We’ve already had a huge amount of enquiries about what we can do with this, what kind of work we can do collaboratively, what kind of innovative solutions we can find with those partnerships.”



THE FEEDBACK

“Our experience [of motion capture] was limited. One of the things we did was cast a net, to find out who was doing really good work, who are good resellers, what kit we could buy, and we very quickly realised that everything came back to Target3D. Since we’ve been working with Target3D, doing visits to the studios, talking to the staff, we’ve realised that it's a fantastic solution. It’s really exciting for us.”

Chris Beech, Assistant Principal and Dean


Check out the video of our visit below!




Do you represent a college or university looking to utilise a motion capture system?


 



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