A new era for Studio and our capture technology

January 26, 2022
5 min read
Matias Søndergaard, Rokoko Co-Founder & CPO

It seems crazy to think that we successfully funded our Kickstarter campaign almost 7 years ago. At the time, I couldn’t believe we had passed our funding goal of $100,000—after two years of intense R&D we were no longer simply students from Denmark, but entrepreneurs launching complex hardware at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. Hundreds of animators, game developers, VFX, and AR/VR creators stood behind us and backed our mission to democratize motion capture—and we left with staunch determination knowing it was only just the beginning of an ambitious journey.

Today, more than 10,000 creators—from the world’s biggest studios to independent artists—choose to start their animations with a Smartsuit Pro. Our Smartgloves capture intricate finger movements and our Face Capture complete the full-body solution for rich emotional story-telling. I’m humbled to see so many incredible stories, games, and experiences built using our tools. But I know our journey is still only just beginning.

Since it was first launched, Rokoko Studio has had the purpose of enabling users to visualise, record, edit, and live-stream data from their hardware device. We later added the Motion Library to help lower the entry barrier to animation even more with thousands of mocap assets available for easy use. Over the last 5 years, more than 50,000 people have integrated Motion Library and Studio into their workflows. Today, we usher in a new era for Studio.

Rokoko Studio: an animation hub for all

As technology advances, complex workflows begin to unravel into plug-and-play solutions with easy access and instant setup. We see this in no-code development and design tools, across cloud infrastructure tools, and even into backend systems enforced by machine learning. We believe our role is to leverage similar technological advancements — covering low latency, real-time cloud-based technology, and intelligent workflows — to empower all creators and creative teams with better creative tools. Therefore, we envision a future where Rokoko Studio is making the entire animation workflow more unified, intuitive, and collaborative.

Over the last years, we’ve invested heavily in re-building Studio from the ground up with a lightweight file format and a new animation framework to lay the foundation for a tool we believe can one day be an all-in-one, collaborative solution for all creative teams working with 3D character animation.

Today, we are taking our first big step in that direction with the release of the new Rokoko Studio in public-beta. There is a lot of work in progress, but we wanted to open it up to you as early as possible. That means we’ll be working closely with you to identify bugs, opportunities for improvement, and priorities to support your workflows. Making a game or an animation piece is ultimately a team effort that very few can do alone. Therefore, improving team collaboration has been a cornerstone in our development of the new Studio. This is the reason we’re now bringing all your Studio files to the cloud, so you and your collaborators always have access to your latest projects from any machine, at any time. We think it’s about time 3D creative workflows join the age of real-time collaboration.

Furthermore, in line with our mission to empower creators, we’ve decided to go with ‘pay-as-you-grow’ pricing model. With this shift, all of Studio will be free to use until you have 250 assets stored, or if you need more than 15-minutes live-streaming per day. That also means that premium features that used to be the reason to upgrade plan (like video reference, FPS downsampling, etc.) are now all a part of the free starter plan. We’re also going to be renaming the current Studio to Studio Legacy. It’ll remain the most stable software to run your current mocap shoots on — but as you discover the value of the new Studio (Beta), I hope that you begin to transition over.

The future of Rokoko tracking technology is now available in the Smartgloves

The second major news being released today is that we have released a new firmware for the Smartgloves that will fundamentally improve the tracking experience and data quality. The reason for this is that we are enabling a new sensor technology to our tracking stack.

This detail might not grab a lot of attention externally today, but will actually have a massive impact on our future hardware roadmap. Years ago we realized that both optical and inertial-based motion capture solutions were fundamentally inadequate - for different reasons. Optical solutions requires line of sight, static setups, and a big budget to get proper tracking. Inertial-based solutions drift over time and do not provide room reference to enable multi-person capture sessions, virtual production etc. Therefore we started looking into hybrid-setup and completed a lot of tests with users with for instance Vive trackers in the mix as our Virtual production solution that we released 4 years ago.

In the hardware design of our gloves we have not only included an accelerometer and gyroscope, but also a small electromagnetic 3D coil that provides the absolute position of the fingers in relation to the back of the hand where there is a small source coil that creates a magnetic field. This is known as electromagnetic field (EMF) tracking technology. This enables us to both use the IMU sensor information and the EMF sensor information in our updated sensor fusion algorithm. This is a groundbreaking change in the way we work with motion tracking. Electro-magnetic-field technology has been in and out of the motion capture world for decades, but has never been seen in the form factor and tech integration before. We believe we have found a way to combine the best of both worlds with IMU and EMF sensors running side-by-side, giving users robust tracking data with absolute position, yet still in a mobile, affordable and user-friendly design. EMF sensors do not rely on line of sight like optical solutions, so we can keep our product designs as sleek as we prefer and users can interact in more natural ways with the environment. This firmware release is possible to use on all shipped Smartgloves via the new Studio (Beta) from today via a firmware update. This is just the beginning of what we have designed with our new tracking technology and we will have a lot more in store for you later this year that will take this to a whole new level. We can’t wait to show the world what we’ve built and I am extremely proud of our team to get this far.

Building tools in collaboration with our community

I ask for your patience and partnership. We’re building all our tools for you, with you. As of today, if you’re a Smartsuit Pro II or Smartgloves user, you should already see significant improvements in accuracy—and this will only get better as we release new updates on regular basis from now on.

This is the beginning of an exciting new era of Rokoko. Our mission has evolved and so too has our staunch determination to build the future of easy, intuitive animation tools for all creators. I look forward to embarking on this journey with you.

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