What Is Motion Capture?

One of the biggest challenges for animators, artists and medical professionals is tracking the intricacies and fluidity of bodily movement. Computer simulation can go so far, before it needs either excruciating detail or motion capture software to achieve the level of realism required. Motion capture systems use a combination of sensors and software to interpret human motion in the most realistic way, allowing for easier modeling of the individual and the movements concerned. Motion capture technologies are already quite sophisticated, but like all aspects of technology it looks as though the best is yet to come.

Predicting the future of motion capture requires a solid understanding of the present. Knowing how these systems work and the various applications in which they can be used is the first step to learning more about the effectiveness of motion capture technology.

Motion Capture Explained

Motion capture technology is a way of digitally capturing the motion of people, animals and objects. It has practical applications expanding across various different industries. These systems track the movement of the object in an exact, fluid way, and create digital signals that can be interpreted on computer in a usable format. Cameras, sensors and software applications combine to record the exact type and extent of movement recorded, which can then be transformed or interpreted for better end results.


Motion capture systems are becoming increasingly complex. While previously these systems were of limited capacity, today’s motion capture software allows for smooth movement capture, with more realistic tracking for better recording and analysis. While there is still a requirement for specific hardware, software and setup, it is nevertheless becoming easier to integrate motion capture applications for use in your industry. The price point of these technologies is becoming ever more accessible, while their power and functionality continue to grow.

What Motion Capture Is Used For

Motion capture software is used in any situation where it is advantageous to have a computer interpretation of the movements of a human, animal or object. For example, think of the video games industry. The constant demand for realism means that designers and manufacturers need to perpetually find new ways of becoming more realistic in the graphics and games they create. Motion capture is becoming increasingly used here to capture the movement of actors, which can then be composited with the characters in the games to deliver a more realistic experience.

Similar functionality can also be seen in the film industry. The Lord of the Rings series, for example, used motion capture technology to program the movements of characters including Gollum. This gave the best of both worlds, allowing for realistic human movements to be applied to a computer-generated, visually impressive creature.


It is not just the entertainment fields that benefit from technologies of this kind. The medical profession, for example, can use motion tracking to interpret different elements of movement, or to help patients identify particular problems. For research purposes especially, this is particularly useful.

Sports coaches are another example of where this can be used in practice. Analyzing a golf swing, for example, becomes so much easier when you have a computerized visual to interact with. Motion capture technology can capture the movements that go into your swing, so you can analyze and deconstruct these movements afterwards. The technology is being used for these applications across sports, and many different sporting academies have their own motion capture systems for this type of application.

The Future of Motion Capture

The present of motion capture is already extremely impressive, and the gains in entertainment, medical, sporting and other industries have already been immense. The future looks set to deliver motion capture systems that are even more fluent in tracking the motions of the individual. Better recording and analysis software should be assumed as a given, and this will only make it easier to use. And with prices continuing to fall as these systems become more commonplace, the barrier to use will continue to diminish with time.

Motion capture technology is already proving extremely useful in a wide range of industries. Organizations are increasingly choosing to put their trust in motion capture as a more effective technology for delivering realistic motion. Instead of spending hours working with limited software models, motion capture opens up the full scope of human movement in an easy, fluid way. This makes it more feasible to capture a range of different movements in one sitting, helping add weight to the efficiency gains delivered by this kind of software.

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Filed in: Technology, Tutorial Tags: computer simulation, Motion capture, motion capture software, motion capture systems

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2 Responses to "What Is Motion Capture?"

  1. sunnyson548 says:

    Nice information on how these characters move with perfectly natural with like human motion. Most of the people get confused to learn on this depth concept. You really added such boostingpoints to make them clear.

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  2. Motion capture is next generation technology used for several platforms such as 3D animation movies like Avatar, 300, e.t.c. Thanks for sharing.

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