Overview and History of Motion Capture

Major Project Research question 

Conduct practice based research in the creation of a series of Performance Capture test to design on workflow

 Subject overview 

Motion capture is defined as “The creation of a 3D representation of a live performance”, according to the book of Understanding Motion Capture by Alberto Menache for Computer Animation and Video Games. Full body motion capture (MoCap) plays an important role in all the fields from entertainment to medicine. This is in contrast to animation that is created ‘by hand’ through a process known as key framing. In the early days, the effort required to ‘clean up’ motion capture data often took as long as if the animation was created by an animator, from scratch. Thanks to hard work by the manufacturers of motion capture systems as well as numerous software developers, motion capture has become a feasible tool for the generation of animation.


The Idea of my project is to research different ways of performing a full body motion capture and transfer it onto a 3D Character. My research is to learn different methods, software and the techniques to get the desired output. The task which is involved in doing this research is to find out the easiest and the cost effective way to do motion capture. Furthermore I need to do research on the cameras used in Motion Capture and MoCap suits with and without markers. I need to troubleshoot the problems encountered while converting the captured data into a compatible 3D software.

In this project, I haven’t used accurate motion capture systems due to high cost, inflexibility and complexity of operation. I have developed a marker less MoCap system, even worked on a Marker MoCap system which targets these issues.

Sometimes it is difficult for a regular animation studio or an individual to hire a motion capture studio because of the high cost. Many a times the software in which the studio gives the output is not compatible for motion capture. As the production cost of motion capture is high, my research is to find the easiest and the cost effective way to do it with available resources

History of Motion Capture


It starts with animation and the enhancement in the world of Animation. Animation replicates real life things on paper by drawing it or creating it on computers using various software’s.

In early 19th Century, the sequence of arranging frame by frame pictures on a chart or wheel and rotating it to get animated movement. This was called Phenakistoscope which was invented by two Australian men. This took drawing on another level where people started their favorite pictures moving. Later in that century people did some more research and invented different types such as Zoetrope, flip book, praxinoscope.

This is how traditional animation came to live in 20th century, people started drawing frame by frame pictures which was either projected or recorded to form animation. Movies like Fantasmagorie, Gertie the Dinosaur, Feline Follies were the first animated short films made for entertainment. Later in 1923 Walt Disney and Warner bros created Mickey Mouse character and series of animation with Mickey Mouse and friends, Disney won Academy award for this movie. Later seven such movies were released that era along with Snow white and seven dwarfs. All this was black and white frame which was drawn by hand. In mid-90’s color television was introduced in US market. This was good motivation for animation industry to start something in color.

During those years another form of animation was invented where photograph of puppets were arranged one after other and played, it was called Stop motion Animation. It was then used in movies like King Kong and the 7th voyage of Sindbad. Some part of Jurassic park was also done with stop motion animation which was done in 1993.

Then the era of Computer graphics Imagery (CGI) came into existence where Toy story was made by Pixar in 1995 which was the First CGI movie. A principal difference of CGI animation compared to traditional animation is that drawing is replaced by 3D modeling, almost like a virtual version of stop-motion. A form of animation that combines the two and uses 2D computer drawing can be considered computer aided animation. Most CGI created films are based on animal characters, monsters, machines, or cartoon-like humans.

Animation studios are now trying to develop ways to create realistic-looking humans. This is where 21st century Animation got defined by using motion Capture to bring real life Motions on to CG characters. Films like Star wars 1999, Final Fantasy 2001, Polar express 2004, Happy Feet 2006, Beowulf 2007. Then the mile stone of CG animation was set by James Cameroon by making Movie like AVATAR 2009. History continues with Avengers 2012, Ted 2012, Hobbit 2013 and Planet of apes 2014.

Similarly use of motion capture started grabbing attention in gaming Industry inmid-90.Game development is the largest market for motion capture. With games drawing as much revenue as movies,

It is easy to see why game development often calls for enormous quantities of motion capture. The immense competition to produce the ‘coolest game possible means that greater production capabilities mean higher quality. More time is left for aesthetic finishing touches and fine-tuning of game play.Over


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Eddie says:

    Well written Sagar!

  2. Neha says:

    Great job !!

  3. Aakash says:

    Fantastic job!!! Proud of u ..:)

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