SnakeStrike: A Low-Cost Open-Source High-Speed Multi-Camera Motion Capture System
Jensen, G., Smagt, P., Heiss, E., Straka, H., & Kohl, T. (2020). SnakeStrike: A Low-Cost Open-Source High-Speed Multi-Camera Motion Capture System. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 14, 116. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2020.00116
Current neuroethological experiments require sophisticated technologies to precisely quantify the behavior of animals. In many studies, solutions for video recording and subsequent tracking of animal behavior form a major bottleneck. Three-dimensional (3D) tracking systems have been available for a few years but are usually very expensive and rarely include very high-speed cameras; access to these systems for research is limited. Additionally, establishing custom-built software is often time consuming – especially for researchers without high-performance programming and computer vision expertise. Here, we present an open-source software framework that allows researchers to utilize low-cost high-speed cameras in their research for a fraction of the cost of commercial systems. This software handles the recording of synchronized high-speed video from multiple cameras, the offline 3D reconstruction of that video, and a viewer for the triangulated data, all functions previously also available as separate applications. It supports researchers with a performance-optimized suite of functions that encompass the entirety of data collection and decreases processing time for high-speed 3D position tracking on a variety of animals, including snakes. Motion capture in snakes can be particularly demanding since a strike can be as short as 50 ms, literally twice as fast as the blink of an eye. This is too fast for faithful recording by most commercial tracking systems and therefore represents a challenging test to our software for quantification of animal behavior. Therefore, we conducted a case study investigating snake strike speed to showcase the use and integration of the software in an existing experimental setup.