Wikipedia Reference Information
Motion capture, Motion Tracking or Mocap, is a technique of digitally recording movements for entertainment, sports and medical applications.
Methods and Systems
Motion tracking or motion capture started as a photogrametric analysis tool in biomechanics research in the 1970s and 1980s, and expanded into education, training, sports and recently computer animation for cinema and video games as the technology matured. A performer wears markers near each joint to identify the motion by the positions or angles between the markers. Acoustic, inertial, LED, magnetic or reflective markers, or combinations of any of these, are tracked, optimally at least two times the rate of the desired motion, to submillimeter positions. The motion capture computer software records the positions, angles, velocities, accelerations and impulses, providing an accurate digital representation of the motion.
In entertainment applications this can reduce the costs of animation which otherwise requires the animator to draw each frame, or with more sophisticated software, key frames which are interpolated by the software. Motion capture saves time and creates more natural movements than manual animation, but is limited to motions that are anatomically possible. Some applications might require additional impossible movements like animated super hero martial arts or stretching and squishing that are not possible with real actors.
In biomechanics, sports and training, real time data can provide the necessary information to diagnose problems or suggest ways to improve performance, requiring motion capture technology to capture motions up to 140 miles per hour for a golf swing.
The complete, up-to-date and editable article about Motion Capture can be found at Wikipedia: Motion Capture