How Motion Capture is used in CGI

Motion capture (MoCap) is a process of recording the movements of a person or object and translating them into digital data. This data can then be used to create realistic animations in video games, movies, and other digital media. CGI is computer generated imagery. VFX is usually when live action content is enhanced. CGI is when sequences are built with the use of a computer using animation or digital environments or motion captured bodies.

MoCap is a tool that CGI artists rely on to create realistic movements for characters and objects. This is done by tracking the movements of a performer wearing a MoCap suit, covered in markers. The markers are tracked by cameras, which capture the performer’s movements from different angles. The data from the cameras is then used to create a digital skeleton / wireframe of the performer’s body.

The wireframe is then used to help animate the character in the CGI scene. The animator can move the bones of the skeleton to create different poses and movements. The animator can also add “skin”, clothes, and other details to the character to make it look more realistic. [More here]

Previous to MoCap technology Hollywood used rotoscoping filming a performer as a reference for a character.

MoCap has been used since the 1990’s to create realistic movements for a wide variety of characters and objects in CGI:

  • Humans
  • Animals
  • Monsters
  • Robots
  • Vehicles
  • Weapons
  • Props

Notable examples of how motion capture was used in CGI:

  • The character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies
  • The characters in the Avatar movie
  • The characters in the video game series Uncharted and The Last of Us
  • The stunts in Spiderman

Benefits of using motion capture in CGI

There are a number of benefits to using motion capture in CGI, including:

  • Realism: MoCap allows animators to create realistic movements that would be difficult or time consuming to create by hand.
  • Efficiency: As the MoCap data is rendered onto the computer it can save animators a lot of time and effort, as they don’t have to keyframe every animation by hand.
  • Quality: MoCap can help animators to produce high-quality animations, even if they are not experienced animators.
  • Consistency: MoCap can help to ensure that the movements of characters and objects are consistent from scene to scene.
  • Real-time tracking: MoCap can be used to track the movements of actors and objects in real time, which is useful for video games and VR applications.
  • Reverse age: Actors using facial capture can have their appearances altered: scar, missing eyes, age or de-age them.

MoCap is a powerful tool that can be used to create realistic animations in CGI in a wide variety of media: video games, movies, TV shows, and commercials. MoCap is also used in real-time applications, such as video games and VR. Film sets can have dangerous stunts that can be made safe by Motion Capture. As the technology becomes more and more accessible it will be used more and more.