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What is Motion Capture?

Motion capture is the process of recording a live motion event and translating it into actionable data that allows for a 3d recreation of the performance. In other words, transforming a live performance into a digital performance.

Who Uses Motion Capture?
  • Engineering
  • Law
  • Entertainment
  • Video Games
  • Television
  • Feature Films
  • Medicine
  • Sports
  • Security and Defense
  • Role Playing Engineering

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WB Increases Animation Output by 4x

Early Years of Motion Tracking and Methodologies

The first technology-based, systematic studies of motion were conducted by Eadweard Muybridge in the 19th century, before the advent of cinematography, and served for decades as the basis for understanding how humans and animals move. In 1937, Walt Disney began experimenting with methodologies to realistically portray characters in the movie, Snow White. They adopted a technique called rotoscoping, invented earlier by Max Fleisher, whereby individual frames of movie film were traced onto animation cells as a means of speeding up the animation process.

By the time 3D computer animation came to dominate the entertainment industry, new techniques were sought to capture human motion in a more flexible way. But the need to capture accurate human motion was not limited to the field of animation. Doctors and scientists had pressing needs to better understand how patients moved in order to diagnose or study diseases and injuries. More sophisticated, flexible, computer-based motion tracking technology was needed, and a number of technologies were developed to address these problems.


Ubisoft Montreal Chooses Markerless Motion Capture

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Traditional Marker-based Optical Motion Capture Systems
Computer Vision
Optical motion capture software and systems use computer vision – the process by which digital images are processed by software to identify objects – in order to track motion. Typically, an array of video cameras are connected to a computer running specialized software.

Special Markers -
Optical mocap requires the use of special markers. These markers are designed to be easily identifiable by image processing software. Typically, the markers are either highly reflective balls or else small bright lights that stand out from the background and are simpler for computer vision algorithms to identify.

Drawbacks -
Having to wear special suits with markers or to have the markers applied to their clothing or body is very inhibitive to the motion capture process. Precise application of the markers is essential, as the software is estimating the position of the subject. If the marker slips, are misapplied, or become blocked by another object, the tracking will be inaccurate. Further, the time and overhead it takes to correctly apply markers makes many applications unfeasible.

motion capture system


  • Accuracy
  • Reliability and speed
  • Large capture volumes
  • High sample rate capture


  • Extensive and time consuming setup
  • Optical data requires extensive post-processing time
  • Hardware is expensive
  • Cannot capture motion when markers are occluded
markerless mocap data

Download Free Markerless Mocap Sample Data

mocap sample data
Modern Markerless Motion Capture Technology
No Markers - Markerless motion capture systems use advanced computer vision technology to identify and track subjects without the need for any special suits or markers. To accomplish this, advanced algorithms are required, especially when the expectation is to track motion in real-time.

Availability - This cutting edge technology is an active field of research at leading universities throughout the world. Organic Motion’s OpenStage 2 is the only commercially available professional markerless motion capture system on the market


the benefits of motion capture software

advanced mocap software


No Setup Time - Because no special suits, markers or equipment are required, subjects can simply step into the capture volume to begin tracking.

Benefits - This means that animators and game developers can capture more accurate motion data in less time, and for a much lower total cost. It also makes many clinical and research applications much more practical. Because there is no special setup required, it is easier to track the motion of children or people whose condition makes the application of special suits difficult. The difficulty, however, is implementing accurate tracking algorithms that perform well enough for real-time use, without the aid of markers to provide hints to the software. This capability is the core of Organic Motion’s technology.

What’s Next?

modern markerless motion captureAccurate motion capture is essential in several industries ranging from animation and game development to life sciences and medicine. While methodical studies of human and animal motion date back at least to the 19th century, the advent of modern computer-based motion capture system has recently provided the ability to capture accurate 3D motion in new and flexible ways. A variety of technologies have been used to meet this objective, including marker-based optical systems and systems based on inertial sensors.

Newer technologies that provide markerless motion capture based on advanced computer vision algorithms are an open field of research at leading universities, and are available commercially today in Organic Motion’s OpenStage 2.