Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Saarbrücken have developed a new type of motion capture system that doesn't require the live action performers to wear those skintight body suits covered in cumbersome tracking markers. And the typical 360 degree array of infrared sensors capturing their movements can be reduced to just a handful of strategically placed video cameras.

If the team's custom software really does deliver on its promises of cheap but highly accurate motion capture, it could revolutionize everything from film production, to video games, to even medicine. The software is able to capture and translate a performer's motions to a CG character in real time, and it can take into account and compensate for times when body parts overlap, or when distracting objects are moving in the background. Which means that motion capture could even be performed on set one day—not on a sound stage.

And the new system doesn't just stop at capturing a person's movement. Taking things one step further the researchers have also found a way to capture the movements of a bulky costume—like a flowing ballgown—allowing a computer generated version to be created that perfectly mimics the folds and natural deformations of the real thing. Pretty soon the next Star Wars might actually come from a teenager filming in their parent's basement. [Max-Planck-Gesellschaft via Gizmag]