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Motion capture software has become an integral part of filmmaking and video game development, but it’s also used by engineers, product designers, and even the military. This software uses recordings of human actors to develop animated 2D or 3D characters.
The best motion capture software includes segmental modeling and uses real-time data to inform and accelerate animations. It also provides precise low-latency measurements of kinetic movement and body angles.
Below I review the 11 best motion capture software options available today, plus provide answers to frequently asked questions about this type of software.
11 best motion capture software
Here are my recommendations for the best motion capture software available today:
- Adobe After Effects
- Cyberlink PowerDirector
- DaVinci Resolve 15
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Adobe Animate CC
- 3DS Max
- VideoStudio Pro 2021
1. Adobe After Effects
You’ll find a few recommendations from the Adobe family on this list, but Adobe After Effects is one of the most powerful. While motion capture is not a standalone effect in Adobe After Effects, this software helps create some the most hyper-realistic animations.
Adobe After Effects has the ability to track motion by matching previously selected image data from succeeding frames. Thanks to its integrated 3D camera tracker, you can also track camera motion or insert 3D objects in 2D footage. These are just some of its remarkable motion capturing tools.
- Includes 3D camera tracker
- Contains Warp Stabilizer (to transform shaky footage into smooth shots or to hold a moving object still in the frame)
- Combines elements filmed separately
- Offers the option to animate still images to match the motion of action, as well as to animate footage effects to follow a moving element
Adobe After Effects has a few plans available for individuals, businesses, students and schools. After the free trial is up, the individual plan costs $20.99 per month with 100GB of free storage, the student plan costs $29.99 per month, and the business plan costs $59.99. The schools and universities package falls within the $34.99 -$330 range and can be billed per device or user, either monthly or yearly.
Adobe After Effects is useful for any editor who wishes to enhance their video footage with warps, and transitions, and other effects.
MotionBuilder is a 3D character animation software that’s both responsive and interactive. This tool features an optimized display and high-powered tools that help you capture motion, edit, and play back complex character animation. This motion capture software is used for virtual cinematography, motion capture, and traditional keyframe animation primarily used in film, games, television production, and other multimedia projects.
- 3D engine that works in real time to create realistic movements
- Efficient workflows
- Contains advanced tools to manipulate motion capture data
- Includes a software development kit for interactivity with other 3D apps
When it comes to pricing, you can pay an annual fee of $1,950, or you can save some money and pay $5,560 every three years.
Professionals who wants to work with character animation, keyframe or motion capture.
3. Cyberlink PowerDirector
CyberLink PowerDirector is motion animation software for creating and editing video content. This software’s high-quality video editing tools will help you create exceptional content for your viewers.
The latest version includes:
- AI sky replacement
- Auto remix audio to fit your project duration
- Motion graphics PiP objects,
- Media library management
- Enhanced timeline and clip markers
CyberLink PowerDirector offers three plans: PowerDVD 21 Ultra, PowerDirector 365 for Windows and Director Suite 365. At the time of writing, PowerDVD is on sale for $69.99, instead of the usual $99.99, and PowerDirector 365 and Director Suite 365 have a promotional price of $51.99 and $96.99 respectively, billed annually for the first year of usage. Check the official website for today’s pricing.
CyberLink PowerDirector has been among the best video editing software for users who both consume and produce.
Blender is one of the best free motion capture, open-source, 3D computer graphics softwares for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and computer games. With this software, you can perform facial mo-cap by tracking markers painted on a person’s face. In addition, you can use this tool to add clothing items to your models that behave realistically and can be adjusted.
- Digital sculpting tools provide the power and flexibility required in several stages of the digital production pipeline.
- Impressive library of nodes for creating color grading, vignettes, and other features
- Render-layer support
- Full compositing with images and video files
- Ability to render to multiLayer OpenEXR files
Blender is a free motion capture software, but you can support the team by donating.
Whether you are an animator, modeler or VFX game developer, Blender could be a good fit.
5. DaVinci Resolve 15
DaVinci Resolve 17 is a color grading and non-linear video editing (NLE) application for a wide range of systems, such as macOS, Windows, and Linux. In addition to the commercial version of the software, DaVinci Resolve Studio, there is also a free edition with reduced functionality, called DaVinci Resolve Lite).
- Includes professional grade color grading and correction tools
- Full visual effects
- Built-in motion graphic features
- Improved Fairlight audio
- HDR color correction tools
- AV1 hardware decoding support
When it comes to DaVinci Resolve, there is a free version, as well as a premium version for $295.
Advanced users due to its powerful features.
6. Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is a video editing software developed as a successor of Adobe Premiere. It is geared towards professional video editing, while its sibling, Adobe Premiere Elements, targets the consumer market. It has been used to edit famous films such as Deadpool, Gone Girl, Terminator: Dark Fate and Monsters.
- Pen tool improvements
- Simpler text navigation
- Spell check and “find and replace”
- Improved shape tools with polygons and rounded corners
This tool has a free trial and when it’s up, it has plans ranging from$19.99 to $330.00.
Advanced digital specialists.
7. Adobe Animate CC
Adobe Animate is a multimedia authoring and computer animation program developed by Adobe Inc. Animate is used for designing vector graphics and animation for television series, online animation, websites, web applications, rich web applications, game development, and commercials. The program also includes support for raster graphics, rich text, audio video embedding, and ActionScript 3.0 scripting.
- Includes support for virtual camera
- The ability to export to an animated GIF
- HTML5 Canvas support for reusable components.
- Ability to create and organize vector brushes
- Support for both pressure and tilt using Paintbrush
Animate is a part of Adobe Creative Cloud. Pricing starts at $20.99 per month.
Animate CC is a leading cartoon making software that can be used by professionals, hobbyists, and students.
Daz Productions is a 3D-content and software company specializing in rigged 3D human models and associated accessory content and software. With a vast library of free and premium content at your fingertips in the Daz 3D store, there’s something for everyone— from grand scenery to the smallest details — to build a 3D world. You can select characters of all shapes and sizes and add hairstyles, outfits, expressions, poses, props, animals, and environments.
- Realistic human models
- Detail-oriented characters
- 3D modeling functionality
- Clothing modeling
- Asset and resource manager
You can use Daz3d for free.
This tool is best for beginners, as it is free and easy to use.
9. 3DS Max
3DS MAX is one of Autodesk’s most powerful and popular tools that you can use for motion capture, character animation, games development, or architectural visualization. This software contains special effects like combustion and magic particle effects, as well as powerful character modeling tools with the ability to create new models from scratch or sculpting.
- Great variety of tools
- Lots of tutorials available online
- Create massive worlds in games
- The ability to visualize high-quality architectural renderings
- You can model finely detailed interiors and objects
- You can characters and features to life with animation and VFX
After the free trial is up, 3DS MAX can be billed monthly for$215, or annually for $1,700 annually. You can also pay choose to pay $4,845 every three years.
3DS MAX is best for professionals who can use its various features to design visualization, games, and animation.
MakeHuman is a free and open source 3D computer graphics software designed for the creation of photorealistic humanoids. It was developed by a community of programmers, artists, and academics interested in 3D character animation.
- Allows adjusting body parts
- Offers an interactive UI
- Lets you pick the age, gender, height, weight, and facial features of different characters
MakeHuman is a free, open source, interactive modeling tool for creating custom 3D human characters.
MakeHuman is one of the best motion capture software for users looking for a large number of customization options for their characters.
11. VideoStudio Pro 2021
VideoStudio Pro 2021 is a simple software that is designed for hobbyists and beginners. This tool helps you edit your videos with ease, enhance color, apply white balance and lens corrections and remove flaws, as well as combine videos filmed from different angles with multi-camera capture and editing tools. You can also use it to enhance panoramic views or add animation and speed effects.
- Stop Motion Animation with added performance capture technology
- Creating custom animations and motion graphics with ease
- Painting creator which allows you to use motion trackers to record your brush strokes
- The ability to easily crop, trim, and split video directly on the timeline. Rotate or change the aspect ratio with just a few clicks
- Choose from a variety of instant project templates, title presets, and transitions
VideoStudio Pro 2021 starts at $63.99.
Motion Capture Software FAQ
Still have questions about the best motion capture software? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this software.
What is motion capture software?
Motion capture software, also referred to as mo-cap, is software that records natural movement and transfers it to digital objects to create realistic animations, or CGI characters. This software is used in entertainment, sports, medical applications, the military, or even for validation of computer vision and robots. When used in filmmaking and video game development, motion capture software records human actors and uses that information to animate digital character models in 2-D or 3-D computer animation.
What is motion tracking in video editing?
Motion tracking in video editing is the process of tracking the movement of an object and then applying that movement to a new object that was not in the initial video.
What is 3D character animation?
3D character animation is the process of creating a digital model that moves and behaves like it is alive. This can be done with the help of a variety of techniques, including motion capture.