by Kim Ruschel
A few months ago Shai Golan, founder of the software Aikido3D sent me an unfinished version of his new and updated software for a user review. A review that I wanted to share with you.
I was impressed with all the improvements and details that his new software had. He upgraded all the models, shot new sequences of weapons and redesigned the user interface.
It all started around 10 years ago when Shai began working on a very unusual project, quite advanced for its time as it is still today. He wanted to capture Aikido movement using Hollywood-like movie technology. Using a resource called "3D motion imaging technology" Shai invited Donovan Waite Shihan and fellow Aikido instructors to assist him into an Aikido motion capture shot; Sensei Donovan would be the first Aikido instructor to have his movements captured and digitalized in a motion capture studio.
At the very end of 2012 a second version (more detailed in every sense) of the Aikido3D software came into the market.
The advantage of using this innovative technique is that it allows us to preserve in fine detail the movements of a determined Aikido technique. Once the human body's main joints are marked with sensors it is possible to have every movement tracked at the studio. These joint sensors are later used in a virtual skeleton. This skeleton is then "built into" 3D models to recreate the movement.
The difference between an instructional video and Aikido3D is that a video is 2D or 2 dimensional. You can't see into the "depth" or third axis of the movement. In a 3D environment you are able to observse the movement from any given point. That gives you the advantage of looking at a technique from any angle you want.
At the very early stages Shai built Aikidoka models that looked like they were made out of clay. Very soft and round figures. At the time that was the best solution to deal with the slower graphic cards. The new version has brand new models that capture extremely well the facial traces. It really gives you a sense of the very detailed work put into this project.
Shai updated many tools, UI, content and technologies. Details like updating the "feel/ softness" of the virtual fabrics: gi/ hakama. To a whole new virtual dojo with a beautiful kamiza, makes this software much more realistic.
Waite Sensei is technical and capable. He is the perfect choice for this kind of detailed and complex work. He is able to perform the clear movements that this software requires and wants to offer. It was hard work during the motion capture sessions - it actually takes many takes to get each technique captured. It was very common to see sensors flying all over the place after Donovan Sensei applied the techniques. We hope to see in the future more talented instructors captured by motion capture techniques like Aikido3D.
The overall result is a unique way to "break down" the Aikido techniques and study them in detail. I would say that it is also sort of "time-machine" of Aikido. It gives us the opportunity to preserve the Aikido movement of top-of-the-line instructors for years to come in a virtual environment. This models will in time become extremely detailed due to the growing capabilities of 3D software. It will be almost impossible to tell the difference between a video and a computer animation in 10 or 20 years.
With the release of the weapons packadge you are also able to study basic weapons: footwork, movements, specific cuts and katas. Once again, amazing job at capturing the motion of weapons in 3D.
If you have time to go into the Aikido3D website, explore it and check out the videos as well. I am sure you will not be disappointed.