Avateering with Blender (Kinect 360)

Avateering with custom characters using Microsoft’s solutions proved to be pretty difficult. That’s why I decided to try it out with Blender.

Interested in Microsoft’s XNA Solution? I did it too, here.
My YouTube video that I posted about this is below too.


Believe it or not, the movements from this animation were sourced from me, prancing around in front of a Kinect 360 in my conservatory.
This is thanks to an open-sourced program called kinect-openni-bvh-saver, which can record Kinect body tracking into a .bvh, which can be applied to rigs like the Mario in the video.

Installation and Use

Download the bvh saver (for windows) here (meshonline.net) – should be named mocap-x86-binary.zip and be 106MB in size – unzip it into a safe place (documents, etc).
Run the “mocap.exe” inside of the “bin” folder from root, and a cmd and window should pop up. If not, make sure your Kinect is plugged in. This window shows the camera feed as well as skeleton data. The .bvh file starts recording as soon as a skeleton is found.
Once the task/window is closed, the .bvh is saved to the “data” folder in the root of the installation.

1. If none of this works, try and:
-Download Kinect for Windows SDK 1.8, install the SDK.
-Download OpenNI 2 SDK Binaries, install the SDK.
-Download NiTE-Windows-x86-2.2.zip, install the SDK.
-Download opencv 2.4.11 Win Pack, install the SDK to the root of drive C:.
2. Visit the GitHub page and read through the other information.
3. Make sure your Kinect is an Xbox 360 Kinect and not an Xbox One. This program will only work with Xbox 360 Kinects. However, it will work with up to 3 (and maybe more) !

I assume something similar is achievable with Kinect Studio, but it didn’t quite fit for avateering (I think :/ – pls leave a comment if you know anything about this) in the time frame I wanted.

The model was only a mesh when I imported it, but it didn’t really matter because the .bvh creates an animated rig when imported into blender anyway. So do some automatic weight painting, and if something is wrong you’ll have to manually paint. For example, Mario’s yellow buttons are not the same mesh as his overalls and were some reason auto weight-painted to his wrists. If you have no clue what I am talking about, learn more about weight painting in blender.

Once your animated rig is painted onto your model and it looks ok, you can export it. Want to export as an mp4? Here is the guide I used.
More info on exporting animations can be found in the blender documentation.

That should be pretty much it! Record your movements and transform yourself into whatever character you like!

Anyway, thanks for spending your time to read this blog, and if your reading from the future, leave a comment, and like a video of mine (It’s really appreciated!)

And by the way, if you ever have any issues about or with this blog or project, or just want to share your results from it, create a thread in the website Forum. Thanks!

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