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What is Performance Capture?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

With Oscar buzz in recent years over the incredible mocap powered visuals behind The Irishman, performance capture is receiving more and more critical attention and praise. What is performance capture By recording the body movement, voice and facial expressions of an actor simultaneously, performance capture (sometimes referred to as P Cap) enables film and game producers to bring to life an animated or virtual character more than ever before.

The performer is kitted out in a mocap suit to capture their body movement, a microphone to capture their voice, and tiny facial markers to capture their facial nuances. Their performance takes place in the volume and, with pin point accurate optical tracking - exact to less than 0.5mm, their full body, facial and finger movements, and voice are captured. This allows for the seamless integration of visual effects without losing the humanity of traditionally filmed performances.

At Target3D, the performer is at the centre of everything we do, whether that’s for a razor sharp fight sequence or an intimate theatrical monologue. Using a combination of cutting edge motion capture technologies, we offer an end-to-end performance capture solution for your project.

Andy Serkis’ performance as Sméagol in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is perhaps the most famous example of the magic that can be afforded to a character with the use of performance capture technology. Behind the scenes features show the uncanny doubling of performer and avatar, layering together the real and manipulated. Likewise, performance capture technology took Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s Tintin from sketched line drawings to living, breathing minutely detailed renders that hold the essence of Hervé Léger’s illustrations without sacrificing the nuance and precision of the actors’ performances.

Encompassing everything from the subtle quirk of a digitally animated eyebrow to the exact motion and trajectory of a stuntman’s fall from horseback, performance capture allows for the creation of imagery which can have all the expressiveness of naturalistic acting, married with extraordinary visual spectacle.

The evolution of performance capture technology means that this effect is no longer the exclusive domain of big budget fantasy movies; Target3D is an affordable central London option for projects large and small, with our own StudioT3D fitted with 42 Optitrack cameras to capture within a volume of 9m x 4.5m. Whether it’s ballet, martial arts or a Shakespeare soliloquy, Target3D capture your performers’ every motion, retarget to your models and sync audio perfectly. Get in touch to see how we can support your project.


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