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Culture

Kinect hack moves animated Web series

Media artists embark on "Under the HUD," an animated Web series made with the aid of Microsoft's motion controller.

Under the HUD
The series will follow the comedic lives of two very different video game characters. Video screenshot by Dawna Wood/CNET

Whether you're one of the 10 million who bought a Kinect or one of those who mock its existence, there's no denying that Microsoft's Xbox 360 motion control device is doing more than letting players tickle digital tigers.

Using the camera and motion recognition built into the accessory, the techies at Triangle Productions are using a hacked Kinect to make a motion capture--or "mo-cap"--movie. They're utilizing the professional animation programs Maya and MotionBuilder, open-source programming software OpenNI, and a Kinect tool called Brekel, to capture their own actions, which characters then mimic in "Under the HUD," a new animated Web series.

In the process, they've probably saved themselves from spending sleepless nights animating frames while creating what looks to my eyes to be high production value--at what's most likely a fraction of the cost.

While the Web series hasn't aired yet (the creators are aiming for an early-May release), the sneak-peek video below details the production process, as well as the mo-cap capabilities of Kinect. Triangle Productions says it has the first few episodes already written, voice-recorded, and edited with only the acting and motion capture left to tackle. Advanced motion capture technology has cost films like "Avatar" and video games like Guitar Hero: World Tour at least thousands of dollars; the team behind "Under the HUD" needed only $150 for a Kinect--and maybe more for other tools.

This level of production represents just the tip of the iceberg of what hacked Kinects may be able to accomplish in the future. Also, it just may inspire aspiring filmmakers and machinima makers--those who use video games to record original movies--who want to take their projects to the next level.

Update, 5:45 p.m. PT: The story was updated to indicate when the creators hope to release the series.

(Via Kinect-Hacks)