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Capture, hold, release: an ontology of motion capture

journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2016, 00:00 authored by Rosemary Woodcock
In proposing an ontology of motion capture, this paper identifies three modalities — capture, hold, release — to conceptualise the peculiar affordances of motion capture technology in its relationship to a performer's movement. Motion capture is unique among contemporary moving image media in its capacity to re-perform a performer's
recorded movement a potentially limitless number of times, e.g. as applied to innumerable different CG characters. Unlike live-action film or even rotoscoping (motion capture's closest equivalent), the movement extracted from the captured performance lives on, but only by way of the inimagable (non-visible) domain of motion data.
Motion data 'holds' movement itself in inimagable form, and 'releases' it in the domain of the digital moving image. This tri-fold conception relates an important dimension of (Heideggerian) Being to the idea of movement as fundamental to an ontology or 'being' of motion capture. At the same time, the proposed ontology challenges the 'illusion of life' metaphor as the accepted definition of (motion capture) animation.
The Oscar's Special Rules for the Animated Feature Film Award asserts that 'by itself' motion capture does not qualify as an animation method. The notion that a technology could do or be anything 'by itself' affords a conceptual leap toward Heideggerian thinking on the nature of Being as embodied in temporality, in which past, present and future are unified.
In its capacity to operate outside the domain of the digital moving image, the concept of 'movement itself' not only articulates an ontology of motion capture: motion capture itself can be understood to be brought into being by movement, thus also challenging the notion that capture technology has a parasitic relationship to a performer's originary performance.



Studies in Australasian cinema






20 - 34


Taylor & Francis


London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2015, Taylor & Francis