Dog Catchers at ACCAD

Growing up in Peru, Susana del Rio Kuroiwa was never particularly fond of dogs, especially large breeds, following an unnerving encounter with a German shepherd mix. These days, del Rio Kuroiwa is finding a new rhythm with big dogs thanks to her work on a unique interdisciplinary research project. Del Rio Kuroiwa, who’s pursuing an MFA in the Department of Design's digital animation and interactive media program, and studying at the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), is tracking the movement of Doberman Pinschers in a collaborative project with Ohio State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We’re studying the gait of dogs, both healthy Dobermans and those with a disease that affects their movement,” she said.


"IT OFFERS A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR OUR GRADUATE STUDENTS, GIVING THEM MOTION CAPTURE EXPERIENCE THAT MAY BE VALUABLE LATER IN CAREERS IN ANIMATION, PUPPETRY, EVEN MOTION-BASED GAMING SYSTEMS." {Vita Berezina-Blackburn, ACCAD animation specialist}


The study, Kinetic and Kinematic Gait Analysis of Doberman Pinschers, is being conducted by Dr. Ronaldo da Costa. Del Rio Kuroiwa, who continues ACCAD’s involvement started by former grad student Neelima Karanam, uses Motion Capture technology to track how the dogs walk, and translating it into an easily visualized computer model.

The end result will help better evaluate patients with cervical spondylomyelopathy, or Wobbler’s disease, potentially aiding in the development of improved treatments. This disease occurs in large and giant breed dogs, as well as horses, and causes compression of the spinal cord in the neck, leading to an unsteady (“wobbly”) and incoordinated gait.

“Wobblers affects large breeds, especially Dobermans and Great Danes,” explained Kari Foss, a graduate student at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We don’t currently have a sound way of assessing dogs to determine the best treatment.”

That’s where ACCAD’s Motion Capture Lab comes in, welcoming four-legged visitors to the lab. On a recent Saturday, a 5-year-old Doberman named Logan was the research subject. “We outfit each dog in a stretchy black, dog-sized suit, and attach reflective markers to the suit,” explained del Rio Kuroiwa as she carefully placed markers on Logan’s joints and along her spine.


Susana del Rio Kuroiwa.


The lab is equipped with 12 cameras, each surrounded by a red ring of light. The dog is walked along a straight line in the dark lab, and the red light bounces off the reflective balls. The cameras capture the movements and transfer the data to a computer, where del Rio Kuroiwa cleans it up so researchers can assess the dog’s gait.

“No one else is doing this type of research,” said Foss. “It’s a 3D analysis of the dog’s gait, the joint angles in her elbows and feet, and the sway of her hips.” She said their goal is to measure ten healthy dogs and ten with gait problems.

The project, adds Vita Berezina-Blackburn, ACCAD animation specialist, is a great collaboration. “Obviously, this sort of research is really valuable for the College of Veterinary Medicine. It’s also great for ACCAD. It offers a unique experience for our graduate students, giving them motion capture experience that may be valuable later in careers in animation, puppetry, even motion-based gaming systems.”

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