Motion capture
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Motion Capture. Emilio Cantu, Jin He, Gerard Louis , Brian Orchosky , Chelsey Salberg. What is Motion Capture?. Motion capture is the process of recording the movement of objects or people. Early Animation.

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Motion capture

Motion Capture

Emilio Cantu, Jin He, Gerard Louis, Brian Orchosky, Chelsey Salberg

What is motion capture

What is Motion Capture?

Motion capture is the process of recording the movement of objects or people.

Early animation

Early Animation

Rotoscoping - animation technique where animators trace over footage, frame by frame for use in live action and animated films

In early film

In Early Film

First movie to use Motion Capture: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Live models were used to guide the drawings.

In early games

In Early Games

Highlander: The Last of the MacLeods (1995). Employed Motion Analysis

Traditional animation

Traditional Animation

Keyframing - animation made up of key frames (drawings) that define the starting and ending points of any smooth transition.

Motion capture vs keyframing

Motion Capture vs. Keyframing

A brief look in movies

A Brief Look In Movies

  • Motion capture has it’s roots from movies (Hollywood).

  • Game developers as a consequence begin to implement some of these new ideas or technologies to enhance their games.

  • There’s really no significant difference in translating motion capture technology from movies to games.To give the audience a better sense on how motion capture was incorporated into games, movie references using motion capture are given.

Motion capture in movies

Motion Capture In Movies

  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

  • Polar Express (2004)

  • King Kong (2005)

  • Happy Feet (2006)

  • Avatar (2009)

  • District 9 (2009)

  • Mars Needs Moms (2011)

  • The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

  • Rango (2011)

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

  • John Carter (2012)

  • The Avengers (2012)

  • Ted (2012)

Snow white and the seven dwarfs 1937

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937):

  • Actors and actresses would act out scenes and would be filmed. The animators would then use the individual frames as a guide to their drawings (early form of mocap technology).

Polar express 2004 avatar 2009

Polar Express (2004) & Avatar (2009)

  • Actors and actresses would use a mocap suit which translated their movement into a digital effect which was then animated into a 3D computer animation.

The adventures of tintin 2011

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

  • Uses a mix of real actors and props, mocap allows a more accurate blend of images and film that can all be pieced together in an amazing sight.

Ted 2012

Ted (2012)

  • Ted (the teddy bear) was actually animated by using motion capture on an actor, which is why Ted’s movements seemed so realistic.

More movie examples

More Movie Examples

District 9 (2009)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

John Carter (2012)



The term ‘performance capture’ is used to describe advanced motion capture

In addition to body movements, more minute details such as emotion, finger movement, and facial detection can be captured and used.



Since the movie Avatar, one of the earliest, most famous, examples of performance capture, it has also been used in games such as L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain

Facial motion capture beginnings

Facial Motion Capture Beginnings

100+ markers on an actor’s face to capture facial expressions.

Very cumbersome for the actor - takes a long time to put all dots on, and the

actor cannot touch their face

until they are removed

Facial motion capture

Facial Motion Capture

Markerless motion capture:

Mixamo recently released Face Plus for Unity - capture face data with only a webcam.

Early motion detection in games

Early motion detection in games

Sega’s Heavyweight Champ

(1976) for arcades

Two boxing glove controllers you punch,

one for each player. A 1987 remake

gave one player control of two punch

controllers. The cabinet can also turn

from side to side, and the boxer moves


Sega hang on 1985

Sega Hang On (1985)

The ‘world’s first full-body

experience video game’.

Three arcade cabinet designs. The one pictured enables turning by leaning on the motorcycle.

Nes power glove

NES Power Glove

1989 for NES

Move the glove controller around. The time taken for ultrasonic sound to travel between speakers on the glove and microphones on a receiver unit is used to triangulate position.

Optical fibers can detect bending of the glove (light is obstructed when bent).

Considered difficult to use

Sega activator 1993

Sega Activator (1993)

Octogonal device on the floor that had eight infrared light sensors beamed upwards for detecting movement. Like the Power Glove, also not well-received.

Dance dance revolution 1998

Dance Dance Revolution (1998)

Most game modes/variants feature pressure sensors in four directions.

These sensors must be stepped on to match the arrows appearing on screen in time with music.

First major ‘exergaming’ (exercise gaming) series.

Konami s police 911 2000

Konami’s Police 911 (2000)

Shooting game where players

duck for cover and dodge… by

actually ducking for cover and


Uses infrared sensors.

Notable motion capture games

Notable motion capture games

Prince of Persia (1989)

Rotoscoping - videos (like the one below) were used as reference.

(for animated GIF)

Metal gear solid

Metal Gear Solid

Used from the second entry in the

series (2001) onwards.

The upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5 uses facial capture. Actors had their face and expressions captured from many angles.

Enter the matrix 2003

Enter The Matrix (2003)

The actors (and stunt doubles) from the original movies were the motion capture actors for the game. Motion capture took 3 months.

L a noire

L.A. Noire

Used MotionScan for performance capture, with 32 cameras for facial animation.

The blooper reel above shows the tech better than the game does because it features actors breaking character and being more natural.

Other well known games using motion capture

Other well-known games using motion capture

Madden (from 1994 on)

The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

Devil May Cry 3 and 4 (2005, 2008)

Uncharted series (2007)

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)

The Last of Us (2013)

Motion capture technologies

Motion Capture Technologies

Many types:

  • Optical (most prevalent)

    • a series of cameras with strobing lights are set up around an area to be “captured.”

  • Inertial

    • Body suit or sensors attached to a person that track gyroscopic movement and transmit to a receiver

    • inertial sensors have 3d gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers

Motion capture technologies1

Motion Capture Technologies

Last type:

  • Mechanical

    • Suit that subject wears that transmits motion data to a receiver

    • Uses joint sensors to determine movement

Similarities between technologies

Similarities between technologies

  • All are fairly expensive, need between $5000-$10000 initial investment

  • All require interfacing with a computer running specialized software

  • Each brand has its own proprietary software or plugins for industry standard software

Optical motion capture

Optical Motion Capture

  • OptiTrack series from NaturalPoint

  • Prime 41 ($4,999)

    • Resolution: 2048 × 2048

    • Frame Rate: 30–180 FPS (adjustable)

    • Infrared Strobe (won’t interfere with video cameras)

Inertial motion capture

Inertial Motion Capture

  • XSens MVN

    • Full body suit with 17 inertial sensors

    • Flexible, since there are no special harnesses to hold the sensors, rather they are built in to the suit

      • Used in “Paul”, by Seth Rogen to play the alien

Motion capture software

Motion Capture Software

  • Autodesk MotionBuilder

    • Industry standard 3d character animation software

    • Can import motion capture data and map motions to imported characters from Maya, 3ds, etc



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