What equipment do I need for motion capture? Well, think high-speed cameras, snazzy reflective markers, or those slick motion capture suits, special software, and tools to get things calibrated just right.

This stuff is crucial for nailing down real-world moves and turning them into digital magic. Whether you’re into animation, biomechanics, or virtual reality, understanding the equipment basics is key.

Let’s break it down and figure out what you need for your awesome motion capture setup! 

What Equipment Do I Need for Motion Capture?

For motion capture, you typically need a motion capture suit with reflective markers, cameras (optical or inertial), and motion capture software. 

Motion Capture Cameras

Motion Capture Cameras
Motion Capture Cameras

Motion capture cameras are a fundamental component in establishing a motion capture system, enabling the precise recording of three-dimensional movements for applications in animation, biomechanics, and virtual reality.

These high-speed cameras are designed to capture the motion of reflective markers placed on a subject or embedded in specialized suits.

Key considerations for motion capture cameras include high resolution and frame rates to ensure accurate and detailed tracking of movement.

Leading companies in this field, such as Vicon, OptiTrack, and Qualisys, offer advanced optical cameras that deliver exceptional performance.

The data captured by these cameras is processed using motion capture software to generate a realistic and dynamic representation of the subject’s movements.

>>>Read more: How to Do Motion Capture without Suit?

Markers or Suits


Markers are like these reflective or LED points you stick on important joints or objects, while suits are full-body getups decked out with a bunch of these markers.

Now, why bother with all this? Well, these systems are game-changers for things like animation, biomechanics, and virtual reality because they nail down movements with crazy precision.

Picking between markers and suits depends on what you’re cooking up. Markers are more flexible and perfect for honing in on specific points. Suits, on the other hand, go all-in, capturing your entire body groove.

Your call depends on stuff like how accurate you need it, how easy you want the setup, and, of course, the budget.

If you’re rolling with a high-end setup, expect some fancy tech in those markers or suits, ensuring your motion capture is top-notch for whatever you’re into.

>>>Read more: How to create your MetaHumans with motion capture

Motion Capture Software

Motion capture software serves as the digital maestro, converting the movements tracked by your motion capture system into actionable data.

Essential for animation, biomechanics, and virtual reality, this software transforms raw motion data, captured by hardware like markers or suits, into realistic animations or valuable insights.

Choosing the right motion capture software is akin to selecting the ideal space for your recipe. Consider compatibility with your hardware, user-friendliness, and specific features.

Examples of popular motion capture software include Vicon Shogun, which excels in animation and virtual production, and Qualisys Track Manager, known for precise biomechanical analysis.

If your focus is on sports, companies like Catapult and Kinexon offer specialized solutions. Ultimately, your choice hinges on project goals, whether it’s crafting lifelike characters, studying human kinetics, or elevating virtual experiences.

>>>Read more: Motion Capture Anime – How Have Motion Captures Changed Anime?

Calibration Tools

Essentially, calibration is the process of fine-tuning the system to accurately interpret the physical space and the positions of markers or sensors.

You need calibration tools to eliminate errors and discrepancies, guaranteeing that the recorded movements are true to life.

The importance of calibration cannot be overstated; it’s the difference between a precise representation of motion and a chaotic jumble of data.

When choosing a calibration tool, consider its compatibility with your motion capture system, ease of use, and the level of accuracy it provides.

Leading brands like OptiTrack and Vicon offer sophisticated calibration tools that streamline the setup process, enhancing the overall performance of your motion capture system.

Calibration Tools
Calibration Tools

Computing Hardware

You need solid computing hardware to make sure everything runs smoothly, from tracking movements to analyzing data in real time.

Why? Because processing all that motion info is no joke. A beefy processor, plenty of RAM, and a top-notch graphics card are like the Avengers of motion capture. And don’t forget storage! You’re gonna need space for all those massive datasets.

When you’re picking your hardware, think about how many markers or sensors you’re dealing with, the complexity of the motions you’re capturing, and if you need real-time processing.

Look into reliable brands like NVIDIA, Intel, or AMD for workstations or servers that can handle the motion capture action like a champ.

Lighting System

Lighting System
Lighting System

The need for a well-designed lighting system in motion capture arises from its impact on visibility and contrast. Harsh shadows or uneven lighting can throw a wrench into the accuracy of marker detection.

When choosing a lighting system, consider factors like brightness, color temperature, and adjustability. LED systems are popular for their controllability, low heat emission, and color consistency.

It’s all about creating an environment where your motion capture gear can perform at its best, ensuring your system captures movements with precision.

Capture Space

Capture Space
Capture Space

The capture space, or the physical environment where motion capture takes place, is a critical element in setting up a motion capture system.

It defines the boundaries within which your system can accurately track movements. The size, layout, and features of the capture space directly impact the quality and range of motion capture data.

So, ensure sufficient room for the intended activities, and account for factors like ceiling height, lighting conditions, and potential obstructions.

Ultimately, a well-thought-out capture space is crucial for maximizing the capabilities of your motion capture system.

Power Strips and Cables

Power strips and cables are the lifelines that ensure all your equipment, from cameras to computing hardware, stays powered up and connected.

When choosing power strips, consider the number of outlets, surge protection, and durability. As for cables, go for reliable, high-quality options with the right connectors for your devices. 

Power Strips and Cables
Power Strips and Cables

Optional: Gloves, Facial Capture, etc.

Optional accessories like gloves and facial capture components can take your motion capture system to the next level by adding nuanced details to the captured movements. 

Gloves equipped with sensors or markers allow for precise tracking of hand and finger movements, enhancing the realism of animated characters or detailed biomechanical analyses. 

Facial capture technology, whether in the form of markers or specialized cameras, enables the recording of facial expressions, contributing to lifelike character animations.

How Much Does Mocap Equipment Cost?

The cost of motion capture equipment varies greatly depending on the type of system and features needed. Here’s a rough estimate:

  • Cameras: $5,000 – $50,000 (Optical cameras) or $1,000 – $10,000 (Inertial cameras)
  • Markers: $100 – $1,000
  • Software: $1,000 – $10,000
  • Calibration equipment: $500 – $5,000
  • Computers: $1,000 – $5,000
  • Lighting: $500 – $5,000
  • Tripods: $100 – $1,000
  • Cables: $100 – $1,000
  • Stage: $1,000 – $10,000

Total cost: a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars


Now you can answer ‘What equipment do I need for motion capture?’ Assembling the right gear is the key to unlocking the world of motion capture.

From high-speed cameras and reflective markers to advanced motion capture suits and specialized software, each component plays a vital role in translating real-world movements into digital precision.

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