Monday, 21 January 2013

BA5 Contextual Studies - How has motion capture changed the games we play?

Here is my presentation bullet points, it is my findings on motion capture in video games but condensed down. these will be my main points in my essay, I will also be adding a conclusion in my essay.

What is Motion Capture?

  • Motion Capture basically means recording movement and translating that movement/information into another medium.
  • Often used in films and video games.
  • Motion capture can be linked to an older technique called Rotoscoping.
  • Rotoscoping is an animation technique where the animator traces frame by frame over footage. This creates realistic and believable movement in the animation.
  • In present day, motion capture is primarily seen as the method of recording an actor’s or multiple actors’ performance and using the information recorded to create a digital performance with a model in 3D.
  • In this method actors are recorded with multiple cameras from various angles. During the performance the actor wears markers near each joint on their body so the cameras can record the complete movement of the body. The movement is then pin pointed to just the markers.
  • Once the motion capture information is collected and the 3D model is created the two are then paired creating life like movement.

Motion capture in games

  • The first game to utilize motion capture was Prince of Persia which was released in 1989. Jordan Mechner the creator of Prince of Persia utilized the method of Rotoscoping when creating the Prince’s movement.

  • Jordan Mechner filmed his brother performing acrobatic movements for the Prince, and then traced over the film frame by frame creating the Prince’s realistic movement.

  • Prince of Persia 2 (1991), Disney’s Aladdin (1993) also use the same Rotoscoping technique.

  • In 1997 Tekken 3 was released, Tekken 3 used motion capture like we use It today. Professional fighters were recorded performing the characters in Tekken’s moves, and these movements were paired with the characters. 

  • After Tekken, most games up until the present day use motion capture whenever they wish to create realistic and believable character movements.

  • The next milestone for motion capture in games is L.A.Noire. L.A.Noire not only had professional actors performing the movements of the characters, but they also acted the facial movements. 32 Cameras were used to record every movement from every angle on the actor’s faces. This made the characters in L.A.Noire life like, and they came across as believable people in the game world.

Pros and Cons of Motion Capture


  • Creates Realistic movement/ facial movement
  • It’s a quicker method than traditional key frame animation. Which means deadlines can be met faster


  • Expensive cameras, equipment and software.  So this may not be available to smaller and independent studios.
  • Would need a large space in the studio to perform the movements.
  • A lot of the time it is easier to re shoot a performance than edit and manipulate the recordings 

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