Have you ever wondered how some movies and video games make their animation seem so real? Those movies and games use lots of cameras synchronized by a computer in a process called Motion Capture. During a Motion Capture session, an actor or athlete will wear a suit that has lots of reflective spheres attached to it. The special cameras that are used can only see those spheres. The system is calibrated so that the computer knows exactly where all of the cameras are in the studio. If any two cameras can see one of the spheres, the computer can calculate the position of that sphere in the studio.
The actor goes through all of the scenes needed for the production, and the locations of the spheres are tracked the whole time. The animators then create a character that they can attach to the recorded location of the spheres. That way, whichever way the actor moves, the character will move exactly the same way! Some recent movies that took advantage of Motion Capture include The Hobbit, The Avengers, The Adventures of TinTin, Avatar, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
At Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare’s James R. Gage Center for Gait and Motion Analysis, we use the exact same kind of motion capture system. Only instead of creating animations, were using the data to measure how our patients’ musculoskeletal systems are functioning. Based on our findings, our physicians work with families to make important care and treatment decisions.
Adam Rozumalski is an engineer in Gillette’s Center for Gait and Motion Analysis.Gillette’s Center for Gait and Motion Analysis (Gait Lab) in St. Paul, Minnesota uses state-of-the-art computer technology to evaluate and develop effective treatments for movement problems. We strive to help our patients maximize their physical abilities and achieve greater health and independence. Because movement problems require ongoing evaluation and treatment, we also serve older teen and adult patients at Gillette Lifetime Specialty Healthcare.