Intro to LMA
Initial Experiments
The Motion Capture Studio

Intro to LMA

"Hey, that's John striding across the quad! I'd recognize his bold confident walk anywhere! If we did a Motion Capture of John walking, I wonder if he would look equally dynamic and powerful in the animation?" This research team doubts that he would look like himself in an animation done from motion capture.which is the reason we are proposing this research project.

Every human being has his/her own unique perceivable movement style. This is what a Laban Movement Analyst would call a "Movement Signature." A style is composed of repeated recognizable movement elements that can be notated. These elements in their combinations and phrasing capture the liveliness of that person's movement-his dynamic expressiveness.

Unfortunately, despite all advances in current Motion Capture processes, we are not yet able to fully capture this dynamic life-quality of the "Movement Signature." These limitations show especially in motion capture based animation. Many important features that convey "life-ness", weight, personality, idiosyncrasies, and other subtleties, get diminished or lost in the process. The computer animations lack of those qualities, and look rather artificial and robotic. This is partly due to too simple approximate computer representations (kinematic chains, dynamical models, and other representations mainly motivated by robotics research), and due to data processing and adaptation techniques, that smooth or change the motion in a way that important subtleties get lost.

For, instance, John's "confident" walk may be composed of the Laban Effort Elements of Direct Space Effort, Strong Weight Effort, and Free Flow (see descriptions of these elements in section 3). Current Motion Capture techniques would probably be able to capture the Directness, but would probably not adequately record the Strong Weight Effort (an important component in the perceived "confidence.") And, depending on where the sensors are placed and how many are used, the Motion Capture might also miss the successive fluidity of the Free Flow through the body parts. The perception of John in the animation might be, "John looks a little wimpy and stiff in this animation. I wonder if he was having a bad day when the motion capture was made."

Because human beings are sense-making animals, as this example demonstrates, the perception of movement dynamics leads inevitably to interpretation ("Bold, confident" versus "wimpy"), whether the observer is viewing a movement "live" or in animation. This is why it is so important to be able to accurately capture not only where the body parts go in space and how long it takes them to get there (the structural, quantitative aspects of movement), but also find some way to amplify the qualitative aspects that seem to get lost or diminished in animation done from motion capture.