iKinema, the Farnam, U.K.-based developer of motion capture-driven animation tools, has been acquired by Apple, according to a report by the Financial Times.
iKinema’s offerings include a run-time SDK that produces realistic performance-captured animation in real time. That means a commercial director, for instance, could direct and approve an animated performance live on set instead of waiting for the motion-capture data to be processed and applied to a CG character. The company also offers procedural-animation tools for game development and mocap tools that can be used in an Autodesk Maya animation pipeline.
At SIGGRAPH 2018, the company was part of a demonstration of real-time performance capture. A facial performance was acquired with an iPhone while the full-body performance was captured simultaneously via inertial motion-tracking technology from Xsens. The data was streamed to Unreal Engine via iKinema software for rendering in real time. The demo won the SIGGRAPH 2018 award for Best Real-Time Graphics and Interactivity.
Here is the company’s 2019 showreel:
“Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don’t discuss our purpose or plans,” the company told the Times.
Speculation has it that Apple might be planning to employ iKinema technology in gaming, given the recent launch of the Apple Arcade subscription service, to bolster its capabilities to generate animated Animoji avatars, or to support its long-gestating efforts in VR and AR technology. What’s not clear is whether iKinema’s technology will continue to be available to the industry at large.
The news was apparently broken by MacRumors.com, which uncovered U.K. government filings indicating that Peter Denwood, Apple’s international director of corporate law, had been named as a director of iKinema and that the company’s address had been updated to a London location matching that of Apple Europe.