by Norman on Apr 18, 2016 (33101 Views)

What is motion capture and how does it work?

Motion capture, or Mocap, is one of the most widely used technologies in the gaming and film industry. It has been featured in a variety of films, such as the X-men series, Alice in Wonderland, and Iron Man and involves a number of lighting and camera specialists, as well as stuntmen to effectively bring the character to light. In this blog, we will learn what exactly is motion capture technology, how it works, and what benefits does it offer to developers.

Motion capture - What is it?

It is a means of digitally recording movements or actions of a human being and using it to experiment with different design layouts and themes. Mocap involves taking images from several angles to create a 3D graphical representation of the movement. It was introduced in the mid 90's and has since become a major industry for 3D character design and video animations.

How does it work?

The process of recording movements of a human being involves a stuntman or actor wearing a number of sensors and markers on a black bodysuit. Whenever the actor or stuntman makes a specific movement, cameras and lighting effects from multiple angles are used to render 2D of 3D figure on a screen. Motion capture is involves digitizing the facial features of an actor for filmmaking or 3D character design.

The actor or stuntman is required to give a variety of facial expressions to denote different emotions, which are then used to give a realistic rendering of the character in animations. In many films, an actor's facial features are used to give a realistic meaning to a character. In the Avengers movie, for instance, Mark Ruffalo's facial attributes, such as hair and cheekbones, were digitally imprinted on to the 3D Hulk rendering.

Advantages of motion capture


Motion capture is extremely cost-effectives as it is incredibly time efficient. This is particularly useful in an industry in which time is money, as the more time is required to make an animation; the more it costs developers. Through motion capture, a movement of an actor or stuntman can be captured only once that can then be changed using different themes and layouts. Usually, the motion capture project is conducted in dedicated studios in which colored walls are used to capture high quality graphical representations for up to multiple hours, thereby reducing costs over the long-term.

Provides realistic animations

Motion capture technology has evolved considerably over the years. In the past, only 2D animations could be produced. But today, it allows developers and designers to capture the minute details of an actor's face, which leads to a duplicate 3D character design on the screen. Sophisticated lighting and camera effects are deployed to capture the dynamics, such as how shadows will appear under different lighting conditions and emotional states of a character.

Real-time capture

When a character's facial features need to be captured in a realistic manner, the actor's images are taken from multiple camera angles all at once. This improves the rate at which quality animations could be produced. Additionally, it can also be uploaded on to the computer in real-time, also contributing to higher productivity.

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