Your dog could be a video game character one day

New computer models allow for easier motion capture of doggies, without the need for high-tech suits or multiple cameras.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read

Researcher Sinead Kearney adjusts the cameras to gather motion capture data of a lurcher dog.

University of Bath

Turning your beloved Fido into a video game character or movie star could get a lot easier thanks to new computer technology developed by researchers in England. The tech offers filmmakers, game developers and even proud pet companions a less complicated way to digitize dogs.

Researchers from the University of Bath's Center for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications created a computer software model that can digitize dogs by using only one kind of camera, and without the need for a fancy motion capture suit.

The research team digitized the movements of 14 different breeds of dogs. To capture the initial data for their research, the team members outfitted dogs, including breeds like lurchers and pugs, with special motion capture suits, then filmed the pups performing movements such as walking, trotting and jumping.

Using the collected data, the researchers created a computer model that can then predict and replicate the poses of various breeds. The 3D data can be applied to filming other dogs without the need for them to wear motion capture suits. Because let's face it: Dogs probably don't appreciate being covered in markers. 

The new computer model also avoids the need for expensive equipment to digitize the dogs. A single RGBD camera will do. Traditional digital cameras record the colors red, green and blue in every pixel, but RGBD cameras also record the distance of the subject from the camera for each pixel. 

"This is the first time RGBD images have been used to track the motion of dogs using a single camera, which is much more affordable than traditional motion capture systems that require multiple cameras," researcher Sinéad Kearney said in a statement

The technology could give filmmakers and game developers on tight budgets a way to add more-realistic digitized animals to their creative projects without the need for pricey equipment.

"Our research can help produce more authentic movement of virtual animals in films and video games," Kearney added. "Dog owners could also use it to make a 3D digital representation of their pet on their computer."

It could also help vets monitor their patients' recovery from injury and illness. 

The team presented its research at the annual Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference online on June 14.