Kinect Part 1 - 1

Kinect MoCap Animation in After Effects — Part 1: Getting Started


This tutorial is now obsolete. Check out the new KinectToPin website for the latest version of the software and how to use it — it’s dramatically easier now.


Kinect MoCap Animation in After Effects (Original version)

Tutorial links: Part 1: Getting Started | Part 2: Motion Capture with KinectToPin | Part 3: Building the Puppet Rigging Template | Part 4: Rigging a Digital Puppet

More info: A better way to control the puppet’s head | FAQ and Installation Guide

Project files: Click here to download the After Effects project (CS5+).

Quick note: the text is just transcripts of the videos, so you can read or watch as you prefer.


Hello, I’m Victoria Nece. I’m a documentary animator, and today I’m going to show you how to use your Kinect to animate a digital puppet like this one in After Effects.

If you have a Kinect that came with your Xbox, the first thing you’re going to need to do is buy an adapter so you can plug it into your computer’s USB port. You don’t need to get the official Microsoft one — I got a knockoff version from Amazon for six bucks and it’s working just fine.


Next you’re going to need to install a ton of different software. It’s all free and open-source, but I’m warning you now: there’s a lot of it. Check the links below to see what you need for your particular setup.

Here’s a quick overview of how it’s all going to work. Once you’re up and running, you’re going to be using a Processing app called KinectToPin, written by the very talented animator Nick Fox-Gieg. That’s where you actually capture the tracking data, as well as where you convert it to keyframe information After Effects can understand.

Then on the After Effects side of things, you’ll set up a skeletal rig for a layered 2D puppet and apply the tracking data to bring it to life.

It’s not an easy process, but the results are worth it.

Required Software:

Special Mac note: works in Snow Leopard, may not work in Lion.


Got all that? Move on to Part 2!


15 thoughts on “Kinect MoCap Animation in After Effects — Part 1: Getting Started”

  1. Hello Victoria,
    Thanks for the tutorials. The questions I have are: 1) Which OpenNI version do I use? Do I use the “unstable” or the “stable” one?
    2) Do I also need to instal the Visual Studio 2010 (will 2008 work?), along with Python, PyWin, WIX 3.0, Doxygen, and GraphViz?
    I could really use a complete set of instructions for “exactly” what needs to be installed and in what order.
    I’m quite driven, but not a genius!
    Thank you very much,

    1. Do I need to download the “Redist Edition” or the “Development Edition”?

      This is a lot of software to run so getting the right version of each is very important. Yes?

      Thanks again,

    2. Looks like they’ve updated the download link! I’ll fix that right now. Don’t worry, you don’t need Visual Studio. You can get precompiled versions here

      Use the 32-bit versions. Unstable is quite a bit newer than stable, so give it a shot. I think you want redist versions when you can get them but either should work.

  2. Awesome. Thank you very much. I did read that VS2008 will also work and I’m making progress in putting it all together.

    1. One quick caveat: if you use some of the newer versions of the software it may not require the calibration pose before tracking, which is great, but it may also start tracking things like your office chair if they’re close enough to people-shaped.

  3. So you’re suggesting I remove my l hand-shaped leather chair? It compliments the tophat lampshades I just acquired. Oh, well. If sacrifices must be made…

    Thanks again for the information and the quick reply!

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