Why Use Motion Capture Animation?

Animation is a very diverse medium isn’t it? There are so many different ways to make an animated show or film. There’s hand-drawn animation, cut-out animation, CG animation, there’s just so many to count!

But the one method that seems to have such a bad rep is Motion Capture animation. Everyone seems to have the same opinion about it. People have said stuff like, “Why use motion capture if real people are right there?” And to be totally honest, I see where they’re coming from.

Why do people use motion capture animation? Why should you even use it at all?

Motion capture has always looked very unnatural to people. These characters didn’t look very alive when they’re animated like this. They look like lifeless puppets, which is not what CG animation is supposed to do.

In films like “Killer Bean Forever” and “A Christmas Carol”, the animation looks really odd in the type of world they established. Even without establishing a world, it seems really odd.

I believe the reason why most motion capture animation looks so strange is because animation isn’t made to look realistic. Animation is essentially a moving caricature. Just like the designs, the movement of the characters are very exaggerated, The “ease in and ease out” is a lot less subtle than real life is. All the the actions of a character are a lot bigger than a real person would act.

Have you ever watched those reference videos PIXAR animators use to help themselves animate? When they act the animation out, their movements are a lot bigger and they can be very over-the-top.

Remember that scene in “The Incredibles” where Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl are arguing after Mr. Incredible gets home late? Have you ever noticed that throughout the entire argument, Mr. Incredible is pacing the floor and throwing his hands in the air? Did you see how much the animators pushed the emotions of the characters? That is what makes animation look real, even if the real elements are not very natural.

Of course, motion capture can be used well. Like in games like “Uncharted” or “Batman: Arkham Origins”. The animation looked great in those films. Why does it work here and not in animated films?

This question had puzzled me a lot and it still puzzles me now! I think that it’s the world these games have created, or maybe the actors who portrayed these characters really put their all into it. I really don’t know.

But that still begs the question, should we stop using motion capture?

Not exactly. Like I said, motion capture seems to work very well in video games, but not in a feature-length animated film. This method of animation shouldn’t get any less respect, even if it’s not really in the hands of the animator.

Will motion capture last longer or even evolve? I hope so. Motion capture is only beginning. I hope if it constantly gets better than it is now, we might be able to bring back the motion capture animated films.

…just don’t tell ImageMovers that. I don’t want another “Mars Needs Moms”-type movie.

What do you think? Do you agree with me? If you have anything else to say, tell me! I’d love to hear!

See you later, Animators!


5 thoughts on “Why Use Motion Capture Animation?

  1. I don’t really have an opinion on it. I don’t really have an opinion on whether it should be considered animation or not.
    All I know is that much of it looks weird, but there are some (“The Adventures of Tintin”) that look amazing!

  2. Right, maybe it is acceptable in small doses but not over the course of an entire film — like Bakshi’s technique of interspersing clips of real people playing orcs in his Lord of the Rings series, which I think works for the short amount of screen time it gets.

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