Syllabus · Motion Capture

Dance 265/193

ROOM: CAC G028 (CAC Performance Capture Studio - basement)
CREDIT: 4 units
PROFESSOR: John Crawford <>
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

This course is a project-oriented survey of video-based techniques for motion capture, with a primary focus on applications in the performing arts. For the purposes of this course, we regard 3D motion capture as the technique of sampling movement over time in three-dimensonal space to create graphical representations derived from the resulting numeric data. We regard motion tracking (2D and 3D) more generally as techniques for real-time sensing and analysis of location, speed, duration and various other characteristics of movement. While typical applications of motion capture tend to produce realistic animations, the aesthetic potential of motion capture and motion tracking can transcend realism to include abstract representation, non-linear association and other aspects of expanded media practice. In this course, a series of performance/technology experiments and a final motion computing project will provide an experiential framework for exploring a range of aesthetic and conceptual issues, as well as opportunities for hands-on skill development. Students will view and discuss related works by a variety of artists, read a selection of current scholarship in the field and write some short papers.


  • Dance 264, Screendance
  • Dance 281, Dance & Video Technology

Assignments & Grading

Required homework consists of regular assigned reading and viewing, plus a series of project assignments, organized as three overlapping modules. Details on all assignments will be provided in class.

Module 1. Motion Tracking: 30% of final grade
  • Intermedia Response paper: 10%
  • Motion Tracking Research post: 10%
  • Motion Tracking experiment: 10%
Module 2. Motion Capture: 30% of final grade
Module 3. Motion Computing Project: 30% of final grade

Overall course participation, including completion of the assigned reading and viewing work, will count for 10% of the final grade.

Attendance Policy

Full attendance is a requirement of this course, and you are expected to always be present for the entire class meeting time. Successful completion of this course depends on your active participation during class as well as full commitment to the written assignments and all the work you create for this course. If you need to miss a class, arrive late, or leave early, it’s your responsibility to notify the professor in advance, preferably by email. Unexcused absences will affect your grade, except in cases of severe illness or emergency.