Why Call It ‘Performance Capture’?

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Why Call It ‘Performance Capture’?

Historically, the more popular industry terms have been “motion capture” or “mo-cap.” So why does SAG call the work “performance capture”?


These days, technology is able to record every little nuance of an actor’s performance. Regardless, the debate continues over how deserving the work is when it comes to accolades – as evidenced by this recent Los Angeles Times article, “Avatar’s animated acting.”


Just because a director or computer animator can change a performance digitally, doesn’t mean the work didn’t originate from a uniquely valuable place.


Motion capture is one of the more rigorous performance types because in addition to requiring the full range of human emotion, a performance capture artist may have to learn fighting or dance skills, not to mention the physicality that goes along with simply wearing “the suit.”


Add to that the challenges of reacting, and hitting your marks, when your only references may be a green screen and a monitor, and you can see why this type of work is special.


So much so that SAG recently created a Performance Capture Committee, which will begin raising awareness of Screen Actors Guild’s contributions to the art in the coming months. Stay tuned.