Movement Analysis

Motion capture systems for animal studies

11 Apr 2024

What is motion capture for animal studies?

A motion capture system is a mix of hardware and software that records the movement and positioning of objects or animals in three-dimensional space. It is used in fields such as animal behavior, biomechanics, and zoology to accurately analyze and study the movement and dynamics of various species.

How can a motion capture system enhance the work of an animal researcher?

Motion tracking systems provide animal researchers with valuable data and insights that can enhance their understanding of animal behavior, locomotion, and biomechanics. By capturing precise, three-dimensional movement data, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of factors such as gait patterns, joint kinematics, and the biomechanics of specific animal species.

What does a motion capture system consist of?

A typical motion capture system for animal studies includes the following key components:

  • Camera system: High-speed, high-resolution cameras that track the positions of markers placed on the animal or attached to the animal’s environment.
  • Marker set: Reflective or active markers that are strategically placed on the animal or its environment to be tracked.
  • Software:  The software that processes and analyzes the motion data.
  • Calibration equipment Tools used to set up and calibrate the system for optimal data collection in an animal research setting.

Important considerations when purchasing a motion capture system for animal studies

When evaluating and purchasing a motion capture system for animal research, consider the following factors:

  • Adaptability to animal subjects: Ensure the system can be easily adapted to work with a variety of animal species and sizes, with minimal disruption to the animal’s natural behavior.
  • Marker technology: Determine whether passive (reflective) or active (LED) markers best suit your needs in terms of ease of use, occlusion handling, and data quality for your specific animal subjects.
  • Camera coverage and placement: Assess the camera configuration and coverage area to ensure it can adequately capture the movement and behavior you need to study, while considering the animal’s natural habitat and enclosure.
  • Software capabilities: Evaluate the motion capture software’s data processing, visualization, and analysis capabilities to ensure they meet your research requirements, including the ability to handle the unique challenges of animal data.
  • Expandability and compatibility: Consider the system’s ability to integrate with other equipment, such as video recording systems or environmental sensors, to enable comprehensive animal behavior and biomechanics research.
  • Cost and maintenance: Determine the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase, installation, training, and ongoing maintenance and support, as well as any specialized requirements for animal research facilities.


Selecting the right motion capture system is crucial for animal researchers to effectively conduct studies, assess animal behavior and biomechanics, and gain valuable insights. By considering the key factors outlined in this checklist, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific animal research needs and enhances the quality and impact of your work.

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