From fruit flies to elephants, and everything in between. We’re celebrating 40 years of mocap!

This October, we’re celebrating our 40th birthday. Over the course of our four decade history, we’ve made a concerted effort to keep innovation at the heart of everything we do, which may explain why we’ve managed to achieve so much during this time. Using motion capture in settings that you wouldn’t expect, our software has traveled from a ballet studio to an ice rink and has even scaled the hills of Mount Doom

This means that we’ve had the incredible opportunity to collaborate with clients who are using our mocap software in their cutting-edge research and incredible creative projects across a wide range of industries

From intern to VP, Phil Hagerman shares interesting insights over a 20+ year tenure

Just ask Phil Hagerman, who started out as an intern at Motion Analysis in the late ‘90s and has spent most of his career learning, growing and excelling as part of our team. 

Today, Phil is our VP of Operations. He has worked across all aspects of the business – employed as everything from an electronics technician to a support engineer, sales and director of customer service. He has helped us to build prototypes, trained our resellers, and improved and refined our processes. Phil has played an integral role in expediting issue resolution for our customers and making sure that everyone has the information they need at their fingertips. 

Over more than 20 years, Phil has also served as a trusted advisor to the business, particularly around how we plan and develop our strategies for the future. 

Thinking ahead to stay ahead

“Recently, with the supply chain shortages, I started to monitor the individual components that go into our products,” says Phil. “I actually spent an absurd amount of time tracking the lifecycles and availability of these components to make sure that we buy the parts we need before they are unavailable.”

We’ve also seen the industry change dramatically over the years. When you think about the fact that things like the iPhone or Google didn’t exist 40 years ago – technologies that have become staples in our everyday lives – you realize just how much progress has been made in recent years. 

A six-camera Motion Analysis VP320 system photographed in the late 80’s

At Motion Analysis, we’re proud to say that we’ve been able to translate this progress into success, not only for our business but also for our customers. From analyzing the movement of dancers, and developing an improved basketball shoe to rehabilitating wounded soldiers, we’ve done a lot.

Pre-realtime labeling: The six-camera Motion Analysis VP320 system Using Motion Analysis’s ExpertVision (EV) software to record and track a gymnast in the late 80’s

Navigating the peaks and valleys 

It’s been great to see the business adapt and thrive through various peaks and valleys, adds Phil. “I was there after 9/11 when some people were moved to part time roles because we just didn’t have enough orders coming in.” 

And on the converse, we had one December where we had to revamp our manufacturing system just to get out all the systems that had been ordered, he continues. “Watching the business go through periods where we’ve struggled and then excelled, I can see how we’ve used periods of downtime to look at how we can make things better.” 

Celebrating the weird and wonderful

For Phil, there isn’t only one standout experience or highlight because, “Motion Analysis has great relationships with all of our customers and we love all the motion capture projects we get to work on.”

“Some of the projects we’ve worked on over the years are just mind blowing. We’ve done motion capture projects where we’ve tracked something as small as a fruit fly to something as large as an elephant. It’s really interesting to see how things move. Yes, this is enabled by innovation in motion capture and the flexibility of our systems, but it’s also about our clients’ creativity.”

Speeding up processes with the introduction of custom designed VPAT cards to record the camera data to memory: The MIDAS based system running ExpertVision Advanced (EVa) in the early-mid 90’s

Acknowledging that customer needs have changed a lot over the years, Phil notes that Motion Analysis has consistently updated its mocap hardware and software to cater to these needs. For example, while we have always been known for developing high-end passive marker systems, we recently launched the BaSix camera family, which consists of three “light” camera models. BaSix was launched in an effort to make mocap more accessible and affordable for smaller studios. 

Looking to the future

Lucy Keighley, president of Motion Analysis, believes that our success comes down to all the people who make the company what it is today. “Most of our team have been working here for many years and that’s because, despite being smaller and spread across the world, our values align and that keeps us connected,” she says. “I would say that our greatest value is the relationship we have with our customers. Whether it’s our developers or sales staff, we all make an effort to get to know and to prioritize the needs of our customers above everything.” 

Looking ahead, we’re excited about the next 40 years of innovation in motion capture. 

“We want to evolve with and stay on top of new technology as it comes out. Our software is a core component that makes us stand out. And so we will continue to ensure that our software evolves with our clients’ needs, so that it can continue to be used in things like industrial design and ergonomics, animation, drone tracking, animal/human biomechanics, and so much more,” Phil says. “When you think about future applications, the possibilities are endless.”