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One of the best new software design tools too few people knew about during this console generation was the middleware software suite from Russian developers called iPi Soft. It's a markerless motion-capture design toolset and a free version, along with the entire premium set, is available right now on Steam.
As noted on the product page description...
Motion Capture for the Masses iPi Motion Capture is a scalable markerless motion capture software tool that supports 1 or 2 Kinect/Xtion cameras or 3 to 6 Sony PlayStation Eye cameras to track 3D human body motions and produce 3D animation
That's right, you can kick all those body-marker tracking cameras and those uncomfortable looking mo-cap suits out the window and forfeit having to pay to rent a warehouse or a third-party studio to do the motion capture for you. Instead, you can simply settle for iPi Soft and rely on a couple of Kinect cameras or EyeToy devices to do all the recording for you, with 3D markerless middleware tech. As an example of iPi Soft used in something with high production values, look no further than the cinematics for Halo Terminal. The toolset also works in tandem with things like Valve's Source Filmmaker.
This cost effective approach for dynamic character motions and animations can potentially save game studios millions in production, whether it's for in-game mechanics or cinematic style production pipelines.
Tools like iPi Soft could make a huge impact for designing games in this next generation cycle and it could be a real advantageous leap for game designers – especially smaller indie studios – to make use of the toolset.
You can give iPi Soft a test run on Steam right now for free, or grab the discounted bundle pack that includes the basic, express and standard version for only $1,563.75. For more information on iPi Soft and some of the projects already making use of this design suite, feel free to pay a visit to the official iPi Soft website.