The Visual Computer

, Volume 29, Issue 10, pp 1077–1091 | Cite as

Easy-to-use authoring system for Noh (Japanese traditional) dance animation and its evaluation

  • Masaki OshitaEmail author
  • Takeshi Seki
  • Reiko Yamanaka
  • Yukiko Nakatsuka
  • Masami Iwatsuki
Original Article


Noh is a genre of Japanese traditional theater, a kind of musical drama. Similar to other dance forms, Noh dance (shimai) can also be divided into small, discrete units of motion (shosa). Therefore, if we have a set of motion clips of motion units (shosa), we can synthesize Noh dance animation by composing them in a sequence based on the Noh dance notation (katatsuke). However, it is difficult for researchers and learners of Noh dance to utilize existing animation systems to create such animations. The purpose of this research is to develop an easy-to-use authoring system for Noh dance animation. In this paper, we introduce the design, implementation, and evaluation of our system. To solve the problems of existing animation systems, we employ our smart motion synthesis technique to compose motion units automatically. We improved the motion synthesis method by enhancing the algorithms for detecting body orientation and constraints between the foot and ground to handle Noh dance motions correctly. We classify motion units as either pattern units, which are specific forms of motion, represented as shot motion clips, or locomotion units, generated on the fly to denote movement towards a specific position or direction. To handle locomotion-type motion units, we implemented a module to generate walking motion based on a given path. We created several Noh dance animations using this system, which was evaluated through a series of experiments. We also conducted a user test to determine the usefulness of our system for learners of Noh dance.


Animation system Traditional dance Motion synthesis Motion composition Motion capture 



This work was supported in part by the Program for Promoting Methodological Innovation in Humanities and Social Sciences by Cross-Disciplinary Fusing as well as Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (24500238) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). We would like to thank Masaki Umano, a professional Noh performer, for his invaluable help in acquiring motion capture data and evaluating our prototype system. We would also like to thank Steven G. Nelson for his insightful comments during the writing of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masaki Oshita
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takeshi Seki
    • 2
  • Reiko Yamanaka
    • 2
  • Yukiko Nakatsuka
    • 2
  • Masami Iwatsuki
    • 2
  1. 1.Kyushu Institute of TechnologyIizukaJapan
  2. 2.Hosei UniversityTokyoJapan

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