Vicon Guide

Vicon Motion Tracking System Guide

Welcome to the guide for the Vicon Motion Tracking System. This page provides in-depth details about the features of the system, step-by-step instructions to configure it, and other useful guidelines to help you get started with tracking your objects! (Click on images to view full-size versions.)

For external users: If you are interested in borrowing the Vicon system for your research, please take a look at this page.


Getting Started

We have a complete Vicon Kit which consists of all necessary hardware (cameras, calibration kit, markers, etc.) as well as a subscription for the Vicon Tracker software. This section will help you get started with setting up the system.

To arrange the hardware, you have two possible options:
  1. Use the pre-configured set-up in the Project Space, at i10 (less complicated).
  2. Create your own custom hardware set-up (customisable; more work).

Network Configuration

Both, the MacBook Pro (running the Vicon Tracker), and the client machine should have the following network configuration:

Static IP Address: 192.168.10.x (where, 0<x<255)

Subnet Mask:

Make sure that these IP addresses on different machines are unique.

To connect with an iPhone/iPad, the Vicon system and the device should be in the same network. Configure the Wi-Fi network to match the above settings.

Installing the Windows XP Virtual Machine on Mac OS X

If you want to run the Vicon Tracker on your Mac, you can do so by running a Windows XP Virtual Machine with Parallels. To do so, follow these steps:
  1. Install Parallels on your machine. You can run the trial version for two weeks.
  2. A copy of the Vicon Windows XP Virtual Machine is available at oliver/Public/Software/Motion Tracking Disk Images/Vicon Windows XP VM.pvm. Copy this onto your local hard drive.
  3. Run the Virtual Machine by double-clicking on the .pvm file. This will automatically open the Parallels App and launch the Windows XP VM.
  4. The next time you start the Parallels app, Windows XP should appear in the list of virtual machines. You can directly run it from here in the future.

Using this method, you can simultaneously run both, the Vicon Tracker (on Parallels) and your Vicon Client App (on Mac OS X), on the same machine.

Hardware Available

  • Eight Vicon Bonita Cameras
  • CAT.6 LAN cables (we have some extremely long ones available)
  • Two Trendnet 8-Port Giganet switches (PoE-enabled to provide power to the cameras)
  • 5-Marker Vicon Calibration Wand
  • Reflective markers of various sizes
  • Tripods and camera mounts
  • Screws: Vicon cameras are mounted with UNC-16 3/8" x 2" screws.
    • Dealer: Jan Heuten; Heuten Autoersatzteile GmbH; Gleueler Str. 64; 50226 Frechen; Tel : 02234-2029190
    • Order Details: Schraube UNC 3/8" x 2", 10er Pack, SH506161 4001 (6,39 Euro per 10 Stück)

Vicon marker inventory

TypeBig with connection-threadBigBig with black baseMediumMedium with black baseSmallTinyReflective Tape
Wolfgang Thiele 1 111
Chat: Tremor 11
Chat: FingerFlux 20

Vicon Nexus License USB Stick

We have two licenses for Vicon Nexus. One is in the Project Space, another is in Chat's Support drawer.

Check the price list if you need to order more markers.

Cleanup after use

This section describes any steps you should perform after usage of the Vicon to leave the system in a known state for usage by others.
  1. Exit the Vicon Tracker 1.10 Application.
  2. Shutdown the Macbook Pro as normally.
  3. Unplug the electric extension socket (only if any external switches used).
  4. Put the lense caps back onto the camera lenses (only if used outside i10).
  5. Put all things taken from the suitcase calibration kit neatly back into the suitcase.

Nexus UI

See this video tutorial for how to use Vicon Nexus.

Tracker UI

Mouse Controls

  • Click and drag with left mouse button to rotate
  • Click and drag with right mouse button to zoom
  • Drag with both mouse buttons to pan

Keyboard Controls

  • Hold down Ctrl-key to select multiple objects—this includes cameras in the list view, markers in the 3D view, etc.
  • Press the Spacebar to PAUSE the camera stream. This freezes the markers, and allows for easier modelling of objects.


This section contains information with respect to:
  • Organizing and adjusting the cameras.
  • Creating calibration masks.
  • Calibrating cameras.
  • Setting origin.

You have to do this once, unless the cameras are moved. For user studies, we recommend fixing the cameras in place and calibrate only once because the differences in calibrations may make your error fluctuates.

Starting the Tracker Application

  1. Plug the powerbrick into the Macbook Pro and turn it on.
  2. Start the Parallels app, and launch the Windows XP virtual machine.
  3. Launch the Vicon Tracker (located on Desktop; currently Tracker v1.1).
Camera view

Organizing the Cameras

  1. To the left, there is a RESOURCES pane. If there is none, turn it on in WINDOW menu.
  2. In the SYSTEM tab of the RESOURCES, you will see the list of VICON CAMERAS. The cameras that are online will have a green play button to the left of the name.
General start screen of Vicon Tracker 1.10

Viewing the Orientation of the Cameras

  1. In the 3D PERSPECTIVE, you will see the 3D position of the camera from the last calibration. (There will be no camera in 3D PERSPECTIVE if you have not calibrated yet.)
  2. If there is no camera in 3D PERSPECTIVE, select all cameras in RESOURCES pane and change perspective to CAMERA. Now, you will see the raw image from each camera.
Reorder dialogbox

Changing the Camera Order

  1. You can change camera order by right clicking on VICON CAMERAS and choose REORDER.
  2. Move cameras UP/DOWN, to achieve the required order.
Camera Adjustment Rings
Left: Bad blob, Right: Good blobLeft: Bad blob; Right: Good blob

Adjusting cameras

  1. While selecting all cameras, change GRAYSCALE MODE in PROPERTIES to "ALL".
  2. Change the threshold of all cameras to be lowest.
  3. Put four marker, e.g. on a desk, to define your tracking area (or more markers defining 3D tracking volume). You can use the biggest marker at this point.
  4. Perform the following adjustment with camera rings. Loosen the screw of the ring before moving it. Tighten it after you finish adjustment.
  5. Adjust the rings to these ends: focal length = W, focus = Infinity, aperture = O.
  6. Adjust focal length (T = zoom in/ W = zoom out) such that you get the desired working area. You should make your working area (e.g. table edges) seems as sharp as possible. While you are adjusting focal length, if the image goes totally black or totally white, adjust focus to compensate.
  7. Set the threshold of the camera to 0.5.
  8. Adjust the focus such that the markers are shown as small well defined blobs. Zoom the UI in to see the detail.) Normally, you can move the focus ring aiming at the local minimum of the marker size.) Make sure that your camera still sees all markers in the volume.
  9. Place two markers next to each other in your work area and zoom the Tracker in to those markers.
  10. Adjust aperture to allow more light (O = open) or less light (C = close). Try to get the good blobs of the marker pair. The markers should not be too small, and the center should be just off-white (not fully white).

The circled tools can be used to create or delete masks manually.

Creating Background Masks

From this step, we will use tools from CALIBRATE tab.
  1. Remove all objects and markers from the tracking volume. Remove any rings, wrist watches, and other reflective items from your hands and arms.
  2. Select all cameras in SYSTEM tab and change the view to CAMERAS.
  4. The white blob in the scene will be masked in blue. These blob will be removed from tracking.
  5. If the automatic masking failed to mask any spot, you can manually mask using the tools in CAMERA view.
Calibration Wand Calibration Screen


  2. Wave the calibration wand within the volume. Make sure that the tracks are evenly distributed (see the visualization). Continue waving until the data point indicator turns green (usually above 1000 data points). Each line will appear if and only if two or more cameras see the wand. If there is any cameras having lower marker counts than the other, consider (a) increase aperture, (b) changing the camera postion, or (c) add another camera that looks from that direction.
  3. Press STOP. The software will calculate the errors. Good calibration should have IMAGE ERROR less than 1.0. Higher error mean that there are chances that a marker will be detected as two or more.
HINT: If the calibration is bad while all images looks fine and tracks are properly generated, try restarting the Vicon Tracker program. (It helps because you are in Windows XP. :D) If calibration is still not accurate, or one of the cameras refuses to get calibrated, press 'Reset' under 'Manage Camera Calibration'.

Setting volume origin

  1. Position the wand where you want the origin be (see the wand axes orientation in figure).
  2. Press START under SET VOLUME ORIGIN, then press SET ORIGIN.
If the set origin button does not work, see this secion.

Modelling Objects

This sections describes creation of objects using a set of markers.
  • What you can/cannot track
  • Creating objects
  • Advanced modelling

You can create objects using the various reflective markers available. In general, since bigger markers reflect more infrared light, they are easier to track by the cameras, and hence more robust; smaller markers have the advantage of being more accurate. A few sample objects that work well with the Vicon are shown in the adjacent figure. Note that you can make them wearable (for instance, on fingers) by attaching velcro strips or elastic bands to the base.

What you can't model/ Things that don't work

Tracking individual markers

Although you can see individual markers in the 3D View of Tracker, which do not belong to an object you defined, you cannot create an object with just one marker. This is probably because the Tracker software cannot differentiate various markers from each other. Thus you see two markers, but if you hide them and then show them again the software does not know which one is which.
To create an object you need at least three markers.
Only objects that are selected in the 'Objects' view are streamed to the network and can thus be tracked by other applications as well. This means that position of a marker that is not associated to an object will not be streamed to the network.

Note: The ViconDataStream Framework offers SOME support for tracking individual markers. You can get more information about this here. However, note that marker–label association order is not guaranteed to be accurate.

Tracking "soft" objects

An object defined by several markers has to be "rigid" that means that markers must not move in relation to each other. Thus you can not track a "cloud" of markers for example on a T-Shirt to see how the material moves. You can define such objects, but when tracking them and it changes shape the software won't recognise this object anymore.

Creating objects

object definition screen You can define a set of (minimum three) markers as a single rigid body.
  1. In OBJECTS tab on RESOURCES pane, click pause button to pause the tracking. There will be lines from selected markers to cameras that tracks them at the moment it paused.
  2. In 3D PERSPECTIVE view, use alt + left drag to select markers you want.
    • For the selected markers, you can see a ray projected to each camera. This is useful to test whether your cameras see the markers in different orientations or not. Try select the markers and move them around to make sure that your marker configuration is robust (always have at least 3 cameras seeing the marker).
  3. In CREATE OBJECT section in RESOURCES pane, type a name of the object and click CREATE.

Advanced Modelling

You can change an objects location and rotation relative to its markers after creation:
  1. Pause the screen and get the object into view.
  2. By dragging the blue, red, or green lines you can move the object's center.
  3. If you only click the blue, red, or green line, a blue, red, and green circle appears with which you can change the object's orientation.
  4. Clicking (and not dragging) on one of the circles gets you back to the blue, red, and green lines.
You can select one or several of the object's markers before changing the center's position or rotation in order to make the changes "snap" to the markers.
If you select more than one marker, a virtual marker appears that you can snap to as well, e.g., to set the origin of an object exactly between two markers.

You can change an names of objects' markers after clicking on the triangle for more details right of the object to show you its details.
There you can also select and deselect certain markers if this is hard to do in the 3d-perspective (e.g., if they are covered by other markers or objects)

Developing Apps

Developing apps which include data from Vicon.
  • The data acquired from the stream
  • Using the different available clients (available on Oliver)

Data reported by the Vicon

The Vicon streams information about all selected objects in the Tracker. The actual data reported is with respect to the center of the defined object, represented by a polygon. It is possible to manually change this center of these objects (see Advanced Modelling).


The assigned name of each object can be accessed using its 'name' property.
Note: While using i10 client apps like SimpleViconGLClient, iOSViconApp, and SimpleViconApp, the name might be appended with a whitespace at the end.


The position (xPos, yPos, zPos) is measured with respect to the user-defined origin, and reported in millimetres. It can be accessed using the properties xPos, yPos, and zPos.


The Vicon Tracker also provides rotational information (xRot, yRot, zRot) of each object, reported in the range [0 - 2pi] radians.

Be aware that the rotation information sent from the Vicon corresponds to the rotation in radian angle-axis.
Consider an object that is rotated with respect to the blue axis:

Before rotating the object w.r.t. the blue axis
After rotating the object w.r.t. the blue axis

The reported value for the green and red axes wont change, and the reported value for the blue axis will change by pi/6 radians.

Ready-made Client Apps

There are some client apps available, which you can use a starting point for your own application. The git repositories are located at oliver/Public/Software/i10 Software/Vicon/.
Note:After cloning the repository, please delete the .git folder (rm -rf .git) from your clone-copy. This will prevent accidental pushes of your changes to the original copy.

ViconDataStream Framework

GIT: ssh://
This cocoa framework makes streaming Vicon data to your application easy as pye. :) Check the guide page for more information

The following clients are deprecated. Use the framework above instead.


GIT: ssh://

An easy-to-use app which can initiate connections with the Vicon; displays the received objects and their positions.
The client uses Modern Objective-C with ARC (Automatic Reference Counting).


GIT: ssh://

The iOS version of the SimpleViconApp. Connect to the Vicon with your iPhone/iPad (via WiFi).


GIT: ssh://

This client is more complex, and a bit harder to grasp. It uses OpenGL to display the 3D positions of markers and objects on screen.
Does not use ARC; no automatic memory management!

Further documentation

The page "Developing for the Vicon Motion Capturing System" provides some further details about developing with the Vicon.

Connecting an Eyetracker

Follow the Guide linked here


Known issues and FAQs.

Something is wrong with the Vicon MacBook

You can restore the MacBook to a safe state using the disk image on Oliver/Public/Motion Tracking Disk Images/Vicon Mac Image 05-31-2013.dmg

Vicon MacBook is unavailable (or) I want to use the Vicon Tracker on my own machine

You can run the Vicon Tracker on your Mac OS X machine by launching Windows XP inside a Virtual Machine, using Parallels.
Refer to the section titled "Installing the Windows XP Virtual Machine on Mac OS X" for more information on how to do this.

The remote PoE control page does not load

In that case, there is something wrong at RWTH's Rechenzentrum (RZ). The only way to get around this, is to temporarily connect the cameras to the Gigabit switches.

Camera is not powered, not detected in the program

  • Restart the Vicon Tracker.
  • (At i10) Check the PoE (Power over Ethernet) status of the switches on the remote PoE control page. Ensure that all switches are ON.
  • (Outside i10) Check the indicator on the switch:
    • The first line (PoE STATUS: OPERATING) should be green (=powered) for all Vicon ports.
    • The thrd line (SWITCH STATUS: LINK/ACT) should blink (=data transfered) while Vicon Tracker program is running.
  • If the power is not enough, try separating some Vicon cameras to the second switch. (Tested that 6 cameras on 1 switch works fine.)

My object is not being properly tracked

  • Double-check whether you have correctly created your object (in the 'Objects' tab).
  • If there are other similar objects present in the list, the Tracker might try to match your object to those other objects. Uncheck all irrelevant objects.
  • Delete existing object and re-model it.
  • If you still have problems, ensure that the camera set-up is appropriate for the object being tracked. Use the 'Camera' view to observe raw images of markers being tracked.
  • Recalibrate the cameras once again.
  • Consider adding more markers for more robust tracking.

'Set Origin' button does not work

This seems to be caused due to the messing up of some configuration file or application data. (Exact cause still unknown). To recover from this, do a fresh install of the Vicon Tracker program. Follow these steps:
  • Make a backup of the 'Vicon' folder located in "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data (Hidden Folder). This contains saved data such as calibrations and objects.
  • Make a backup of the license file ("lservrc") located in 'C:\Program Files\Vicon\Tracker\lservrc'
  • Uninstall Vicon Tracker using 'Add or Remove Programs'
  • Manually delete the following directories:
    • C:\Program Files\Vicon
    • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Vicon
    • C:\Documents and Settings\Vicon_user\Application Data\Vicon
  • Reinstall Vicon Tracker 1.1 using the 'Tracker 1.1.52337 Installer' located on the Desktop
  • Copy and paste the backup of the license file 'lservc' into the folder C:\Program Files\Vicon\Tracker. Replace the existing license file.
The Vicon Tracker program should now work properly. If you want to restore previous objects, copy and paste relevant files from the 'Application Data' backup.

Runtime Error! abnormal program termination

  • Reset the calibration.
  • Turn off the Vicon cameras.
  • Close the Vicon Nexus program.
  • Now open Vicon Nexus again and also turn on the Vicon cameras again.

Vicon usage schedule

DateTaskPerson in charge

Contact Us

For assistance regarding the Vicon system, feel free to contact the following people:
Philipp Wacker
Anke Brocker

External usage

If you are interested in borrowing the Vicon system for your research, please take a look at this page.

Vicon Support & Licensing (i10 internal-access only)

Further documentation

Bonita Quickstart Guide


If you haven't found some information you are looking for, or want to view the previous version of the Vicon Guide, please visit:

Created by todi. Last Modification: Tuesday 06 of March, 2018 14:38:03 by kaulitz.

Media Computing Group at RWTH Aachen