Monday, August 2, 2010

Motion Capture Film Techniques Have Practical Applications

What is "motion capture"?
If you've been to the movies lately, to see films like Avatar and Beowolf, you've probably heard about "motion capture." You may know that it's a set of computer techniques that enable cartoon characters to move the way real people do, like the dancing penguins in Happy Feet.
What you might not realize is that these same techniques can be useful in health care, as when physical therapists study the movements of elderly folks trying to reach or to maintain balance as they walk. Occupational therapists, too, can make better diagnoses and recommendations – for example, in drivers' rehabilitation. The same techniques can also inform designs for prosthetic and orthotic devices.
Captured motion data can give choreographers new ways to create dances, and athletic coaches new methods for planning sports moves. Athletes can get new views of their own movements, to better learn how to make the best jump shot or golf swing.
"Motion capture" refers to photographic and electronic means of tracking and digitally recording information about how things move. Example methods involve thermal imaging and high-speed videography.
Often the process involves markers that reflect light or transmit electronic signals. "MoCap" experts place these markers on the articulated joints of dancers or other moving forms, and cameras or other receivers register the changes in location as the form moves. Specialized software tools then enable showing these captured data visually, via computer displays.
Collaborators at the Center for Design Innovation are steadily developing MoCap capabilities. In time, Winston-Salem and the North Carolina's Piedmont area will become known for innovations stemming from these skills and techniques. You can follow their progress and the work of Carol Strohecker, their Director at:


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