New Versions Represent a 75 Percent Price Drop Over Previous Generation

Xsens said today that it has begun shipping redesigned versions of its MVN inertial motion-tracking system. The new systems are more technically advanced, with new capabilities that the company hopes will better position them to handle full-scale production work in addition to previs.

But the most noteworthy difference may be their price. New entry-level suit-and-software bundles will start at $12,000, the company said, which represents a price cut of nearly 75 percent over the previous generation. Xsens was purchased by Fairchild Semiconductor earlier this year, and the company says its new parent’s backing allowed the price drop.

The MVN hardware comes in two flavors. The strap-on MVN Awinda wireless system is geared toward smaller animation or VFX studios who favor a simplified means for gathering motion data. MVN Link is a full-body Lycra mocap suit aimed at full-scale motion capture with real-time performance. Because Xsens uses gyrometers, accelerometers, and magnetometers to track motion, a dedicated mocap stage with cameras is not required for either configuration. The sensors are wired inside the suit and their data is transmitted wirelessly via Wi-Fi (rather than Bluetooth in the previous version).

The mocap engine now captures height data, which was a shortcoming of the previous generation, and to further improve quality, the rate of mocap data exported by the suit has been doubled, from 120 to 240 fps. The result is cleaner output, the company said.

“The internal update of the trackers is much higher than it was before (1000 Hz), so now we can downsample to 240 Hz for efficient handling of the data,” Xsens Marketing Manager Remko Sikkema told StudioDaily. “This was a very important addition in our systems to make them production ready. Now we capture height and every little motion that the human body makes during a stunt, scene, or even just standing still.”

MVN Studio’s pipeline integration has also been improved, Xsens said, allowing it to work more closely with software including Autodesk Maya, 3ds Max, and MotionBuilder and Side Effects Software Houdini.

The Xsens system has been used on feature film titles including Paul and Ted, and Xsens hopes the new software and hardware will advance its utility in production. “We started using the MVN system over five years ago while working on Paul and have continued to use it ever since,” said Double Negative Motion Capture Supervisor Simon Kay in a statement provided by Xsens. “Xsens MVN has been a fantastic tool for previs and animation blocking. After experiencing the new MVN system first-hand, we can’t wait to introduce it into our production pipeline.”