Motion Capture

Welcome to the Vicon website. Vicon is a motion capture company that specializes in gathering precise, reliable data for any movement analysis application. If you're new to the industry, or just trying to understand how you might be able to benefit from mocap technology, this handy guide will help you better understand the features you may be looking for and why they are important.

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What is motion capture?

Motion capture (mocap) is the process of recording the movement of objects or people. The technology originated in the life science market for gait analysis but is now used widely by VFX studios, sports therapists, neuroscientists, and for validation and control of computer vision and robotics.


There are many different approaches to motion capture, such as inertial, video and optical. But what's the difference?

Types of Motion Capture
Optical-Passive. This technique uses retroreflective markers that are tracked by infrared cameras. It is the most flexible and common method used in the industry.
Optical-Active. This technique uses LED markers connected by wires to the motion capture suit. A battery or charger pack must also be worn by the subject.
Video/Markerless. This technique does not require markers to be worn and instead relies on software to track the subjects' movement. Varying tracking methods yield different results, but real-time and final data error ranges tend to be larger than marker-based solutions.
Inertial. This technique does not require cameras except as a localization tool. Inertial sensors are worn by the subject and the data from the sensors is transmitted wirelessly to a computer.

Why passive optical motion capture technology?

Passive optical motion capture is the most accurate, flexible and common type of mocap and the area where Vicon specializes. Within the passive optical market there are a variety of price points and features to choose from, so let's look at what goes into a passive optical system and how it contributes to data quality.


What components make up a motion capture system?

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Motion capture cameras

Why is camera sensor resolution important?

All motion capture systems' fundamental accuracy starts with the resolution and quality of the camera sensor. It is what 'describes' the markers to the system – essentially the higher the resolution of the sensor, the more detail you obtain from the marker. This is particularly important if your application requires precision tracking - small markers, such as facial tracking, or markers that are close together, such as gait analysis or modeling the foot of a child.

Off-the-shelf sensors used in most optical cameras are designed primarily for use in standard video or photography and are not optimized for high resolution mocap. That is why Vicon has custom built sensors specifically for our 4MP and 16MP motion capture cameras, and why we're the only manufacturer able to offer a 16MP camera.

Is camera speed important?

A high camera speed is important for any application that involves subjects moving quickly or in a very subtle, nuanced way. For example sports movements, golf swing analysis or measuring muscle deformity.


Comparison of a 16MP sensor marker view with a 1MP

Motion capture software


Why is motion capture software important?

Software is another key component of your system – not only because this will be your main point of interaction with the cameras and all other components, but because it is the main processing tool for all of your 2D and 3D data. Capturing a day's worth of data only to discover that it requires three weeks of clean up, or there are too many gaps in the trajectories to make the data valid, means time and money wasted.

Vicon's software is tailored to each individual market – Nexus for life sciences, Tracker for engineering and Blade for entertainment. This is to ensure that application relevant features are at your fingertips without cluttering the package with irrelevant or reduced functionality. All Vicon software works off the same core engine, which means the benefits of Vicon's market leading motion capture algorithms – calibration, the best real time in the business, labeling, solving and more – is available to all our customers regardless of end use.

Calibration wand

Why is system calibration important?

The precision and repeatability of your data is dependent on your system calibration. The LEDs on Vicon's Active Wand are machined placed and precision engineered to give you a more precise overall calibration.

When adding reference video to your system, the standard calibration method uses just one static frame, which means your video overlay will become distorted as you move away from the calibrated frame. The Active Wand calibrates both optical and video cameras while accounting for sensor edge distortion at the same time, to ensure synchronized overlay across your entire volume.


Reference Video

Why is reference video important?

Reference video in motion capture provides a means to validate your data with a visual representation of what happened on the day. It can help an animator better reflect the nuance of a performance, or a clinician validate the data they are analyzing. That's why Vicon developed the new Vue HD reference camera, designed from the ground-up specifically for motion capture.


Sync/connection box


Why is the sync box important?

Your sync box provides a single communication point between your cameras and PC. If you're not integrating third-party equipment like reference video or force plates into your system, this could be as simple as a POE switch.

The real difference with the various sync boxes offered by manufacturers comes when you need to integrate fully synchronized third-party devices or require timecode. Vicon's Lock+ sync box offer many features such as Timecode, Genlock, VESA and synchronized triggering of your third-party devices.


Why is the PC important?

The capture and display of motion capture data is a highly demanding task for a PC. HD reference footage creates a huge amount of data, and displaying graphical information in 3D and real-time data processing asks a lot of the processor. The PC specification for your system will be recommended by your motion capture vendor, but as a guide, Vicon's recommended specification can be found here.


Where does Vicon fit in?

Academy Award®-winning Vicon specializes in developing accessible motion capture technology that delivers the most precise, reliable data in any movement analysis application.

Everyone at Vicon, from our CEO to our in-house production team, works together to achieve one common goal – to develop precision tracking solutions that inspire your creativity. We strive to do this by:


If you have an idea, need to work a little differently or just have something that's been bugging you, we want to hear about it.

Telling the truth

We won't make claims we can't back up. If you ask us a question about our systems, we will always answer honestly.


Continuing to innovate

When you buy a Vicon system you become part of a community that has been constantly innovating for over 30 years.

Learning from experience

You don't operate in an industry for three decades without learning a thing or two along the way. Being part of the Vicon community gives you access to not only our experience, but the experience of our worldwide users who have been with us since the very beginning.

Being flexible

Need to capture a specific movement but not sure how? Have limited space or budget? If you have a unique application or research project in mind, Vicon can work with you to find the perfect solution. Just ask.

What is the difference between Vicon and other motion capture providers?

There are many reasons our customers believe Vicon develop the best motion capture technology available on the market. Here are just a few:

Research and development

There's a difference between a company that builds and a company that creates. For us, that difference is innovation, and it is at the core of everything we do. Our development team has been awarded research funding by the UK government for the development of innovative motion capture technologies, which will ultimately help put our customers one step ahead of the rest.

System precision

Precision engineering is what we do. From custom built sensors with electronic freeze frame shutters, high sensitivity pixels, synchronized Vue Reference Video, and calibration devices, every part of a Vicon system is designed to give you the most precise data possible.

Onsite installation and training

Installation and training guarantees you will be up and running with confidence.


The benefits of being part of an experienced world-wide community

Vicon systems are in widespread use all over the world. This community has thrived, exchanging ideas and experiences for many years. Partnering with the largest supplier of optical motion measurement systems to universities, hospitals, VFX studios and other leading research institutions will ensure new members immediately benefit from a broad existing knowledgebase.

World class support

We believe our support engineers should have an intimate knowledge of the science, not just the technology. That's why our industry leading customer support team consists of application specialists, including several PhDs. You can always rely on Vicon for expert support.

Certified Medical Devices

Vicon develop and manufacture the world’s only passive optical motion capture systems that are classed as Medical Devices, as certified by a notified body under ISO 13485. Vicon are also ISO 9001 compliant, indicating the adherence to strict procedures and guidelines, producing CE marked products, along with a Declaration of Conformity, that confirms the standards of the Medical Devices Directive are fulfilled.

Are Vicon motion capture systems easy to use?

Yes! Ten years ago, learning to use any motion capture system could take more than two weeks of training. Now, a Vicon Support Engineer will have you up and running in a day. From calibration to data capture, our software takes you through a simple step-by-step process to get you the highest quality data. When you need to get under the hood to modify settings for a unique application, we give you access to alter your pipeline.


Where do I start?


We've created three different hubs on our website - Life Science, Engineering and Entertainment - to help you navigate the hardware and software that is most relevant to your application. The pages also include case studies to give you an idea of how your peers are using Vicon motion capture technology.

How do I begin designing a system?


Build my system

Try our new visualization tool to build your own Vicon motion capture system. Start with 'Help me choose' to let us recommend a setup for you. Try the 'Build and Configure' tab to make further tweaks.

If you already know what you want, go straight to 'Build and configure' to see your volume brought to life.


Contact Vicon

Alternatively, just call or email your local office and we'll help you get started.