Motion Capture of Dogs with Bath Cats and Dogs Home

Written by CAMERA Centre Coordinator

CAMERA was delighted to open it’s studio doors to some of the dogs at Bath Cats and Dogs home in December. CAMERA is creating a library of movement data from different dog breeds, to make animal animations in films and video games more realistic. Films such as the Planet of the Apes used motion capture techniques extensively to transform their human actors into apes, however this process doesn’t work well for true four-legged animals.

PhD Researcher Sinead Kearney said: “In order to learn how animals move, we first need data of these animals. The majority of motion capture research focuses on humans, so very few datasets of animal motion are available. We decided to tackle this problem by recording some animals ourselves. We started with dogs, since it’s straightforward to get them into the studio, there is a wide range of body shapes across different breeds, and dogs can be directed to perform various tasks. By recording the dogs performing each of the selected tasks, not only do we learn how dogs move in general, but how their movements differ from breed to breed.”

Simon Lynn, Head of Animal Operations at Bath Cats and Dogs Home, said: “This is such an innovative project for our dogs and team to be a part of. It will be so beneficial for the dogs taking part as it is great socialisation for them – meeting new people and seeing different sights and sounds. Kennel life can become repetitive so we’re always looking at ways to add enrichment to our dog’s lives whilst they’re waiting to be adopted and a trip to the CAMERA team at the University of Bath definitely fits the bill.”

The dog’s carers were with the dogs at all times, making sure they were relaxed and happy. In fact, the dogs seemed to enjoy themselves enormously, and received a lot of cuddles from CAMERA.

This project has really captured the public’s imagination, and was featured in 44 news items including BBC News, with coverage in the UK, USA, Canada, India and Australia!

CAMERA is delighted to hear that two of the dogs used for this motion capture work have now found a loving new home.

This project is on-going, and CAMERA is looking forward to welcoming some new four legged friends back to the studio next month.