MoCap Solutions sells premium motion capture suits and accessories used to create high-end visual effects for movies and video games. Tom Armbruster founded MoCap in 2007 after working in the motion capture industry for several years. He began his business by improving the design of the motion capture markers – small, spherical-shaped objects that are strategically Velcroed onto the motion capture suits. After capturing most of the market share for the markers, Tom’s next endeavor was to redesign the notoriously poor-quality / uncomfortable motion capture suits. His plan was to do this while simultaneously establishing a new business venture – a state-of-the-art virtual production company, which he called 209 group, in Newport Beach, California.
MoCap Solution’s initial attempt to create a higher-quality motion capture suit at a reasonable price was unsuccessful. It was not until years later after a friend introduced them to Blacksmith International that he decided to give his suit project another shot. Partnering with Blacksmith provided MoCap Solutions with the right team of experts that MoCap could collaborate with on their vision. Through this close partnership, MoCap Solutions was able to:
- Develop their own unique fabric
- Create a better product at a radically lower cost
- Offload a significant amount of work so that Tom could focus on being the CEO of multiple businesses
Since their initial launch in 2018, MoCap’s redesigned suits have received exceptional reviews from their users. The superior fit, comfort, and ease to which the spherical motion capture markers stick to the suit, has enabled MoCap Solutions to blow away their competitors and capture most of the motion capture suit market share in just 3 years. With his supply chain taken care of, Tom has been able to focus on the important tasks that have helped his businesses thrive.
Over the last two decades, the demand for high-quality visual effects in movies and video games has steadily increased. While visual effects technology has drastically improved, the motion capture suits and markers, essential in the creation process (when actors/actresses are involved), did not keep up with the industry’s innovation. Motion capture suits had a variety of problems:
- Inconsistent sizing and fit
- Constructed out of heavy material that caused the actors wearing them to overheat and fatigue rapidly
- The Velcro motion capture markers did not stick well to critical areas of the suit (elbows, wrists, groin, ankles, etc.)
MoCap Solutions knew they could design a better suit, but their first attempt revealed two big problems. First, they could not find a great stock material that improved the “sticking ability” of the Velcro markers. Second, even when they got close to finding the right fabric, they discovered that their design was exponentially more expensive to manufacture than their competition. Thus, they put the project on hold.
Partnering with Blacksmith provided MoCap Solutions with the team of experts that they needed to get their idea off the ground. This collaboration provided them with three key solutions to fulfill his vision.
Creating a Better and Custom Fabric:
One of the key improvements in MoCap Solution’s motion capture suit vision was solving the issue of the motion capture markers falling off when the suit was in use. After investigating a variety of materials, Blacksmith’s product design team suggested developing a new fabric. It took over a year of weaving together different fibers before the perfect combination of comfort and Velcro “stickiness” was created. Combined with MoCap Solution’s unique X base markers, this new material made it possible to Velcro markers in places like elbows, armpits, wrists, and ankles without them falling off. It was also lightweight and breathable, which vastly improved the comfort of the suit. This was a true breakthrough.
Prototyping a Better and Cost-Effective Product:
There are always a variety of factors that affect the cost of production for any product. Material type, complexity, labor, and order quantities are a few. However, Blacksmith designed MoCap’s unique material with a price point in mind from the beginning. After vetting several factories in their network, Blacksmith was able to quickly find a factory that was the perfect balance between quality and keeping his per-unit cost as low as possible.
End-to-End Supply Chain Management:
Partnering with Blacksmith gave MoCap Solutions access to an entire team of product design and supply chain management experts. This team included an experienced product designer, sourcing expert, on-site production manager, quality control specialist, logistics expert, and a project manager at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house. This team not only helped them bring their vision to life, but they also managed production and delivery so Tom could focus his time on growing his businesses.
MoCap began selling their motion-capture suits in 2018 and they were an instant hit in the industry. Their supreme comfort and function that came at an affordable price, blew away their competition. Since then, Tom has collaborated with Blacksmith to make further improvements to his revolutionary suit design, which will be released in 2022. With his supply chain managed, Tom has been able to focus on the important tasks that have helped his businesses thrive.
“Blacksmith has been a reliable partner over the years. I am shocked at how easy it has been to initiate product development with them.” – Tom Armbruster, CEO, MoCap + 209 group