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Motion Capture: Why is it needed, and How does it work?

Motion capture (abbreviated “mocap”) is a technique for recording the movements of people or objects and converting them into digital data that can be used to animate 3D models or characters.


MoCap Image of man on MoCap Suit American Movie Company
Mocap Suit

Why is it needed?

The primary goal of motion capture is to produce realistic, lifelike animations that would be difficult or impossible to produce using traditional animation methods. Animators can use motion capture to create movements that look natural and realistic by mimicking the movements of real people or objects. This can save time and effort while making the animation process more accurate and full of details. 

Another advantage of motion capture is that it can be used to create complex movements more efficiently, such as those involving multiple characters or complex choreography. Motion capture can be used to capture the performances of actors or stunt performers, which can then be applied to digital characters or objects, rather than having to manually animate each movement.

Overall, motion capture is an important technology in the world of animation and visual effects because it allows for more efficient and accurate creation of lifelike movements and actions in digital content.

How motion capture works?

Motion Capture: Why is it needed, and how does it work? 1

Set up

A performer is outfitted in a specialized suit that is covered in markers or reflective material, allowing the motion capture system to track their movements. A headset with markers or other tracking devices may also be worn by the performer.


Motion Capture: Why is it needed, and how does it work? 2


The system is set up by taking pictures of a series of reference poses or movements that help the system learn how the performer’s body moves.

Motion Capture: Why is it needed, and how does it work? 3


The performer then moves or acts as desired, while the motion capture system records the position and orientation of the markers in 3D space. Depending on the system, this data may be recorded in real time or saved to be processed later. 

Motion Capture: Why is it needed, and how does it work? 4

Data processing

The data collected by the motion capture system is then processed by specialized software that employs algorithms to calculate the position and orientation of the performer’s joints and body parts. This data is then used to animate a 3D character or model.

5. Cleanup and editing

It may be necessary to clean up and edit the animation data by hand to fix any glitches or mistakes and make the motion fit the character or action better. 

In the past few years, technology has changed a lot. Now, there are systems that can record more complex movements and even facial expressions.

Most notable benefits of Motion Capture:

Realism and Naturalism

One of the most significant advantages of motion capture is its ability to capture natural and realistic movements. Because mocap data is based on the movements of real people or objects, it can produce animations that appear more natural and lifelike.

Time and Cost Efficiency

Motion capture, which allows animators to record real-world performers’ movements and apply them to digital characters, can be a time- and cost-effective way to create complex movements. This can save time and effort when animating complex movements that are difficult to animate manually.


Because mocap data is based on real-world movements, it can provide a level of consistency in animation that traditional animation methods would struggle to achieve. This is especially important when designing large-scale projects or franchises that must have a consistent look and feel across multiple projects.


Motion capture can be used in a wide range of applications, including film, television, video games, and virtual reality. Because of its versatility, it is a valuable tool for animators and content creators across a wide range of industries.

Accuracy and Detail

Motion capture is capable of capturing extremely precise and detailed movements, such as subtle facial expressions and finger movements, which can be difficult to animate manually. This level of realism and nuance can be added to animations in a way that would be difficult to achieve using traditional animation techniques.

Unreal Engine + MoCap. American Movie Company
Bill Milling-917-414-5489
Miranda Sherrell
212-219-1075 Icon Number
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