Motion Capture Mecha

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A type of control system for Humongous Mecha, where the robot reads your movement like motion captures. This entails the user doing a movement, like miming walking forward or throwing a punch in the cockpit, and then this action is mirrored by the Mecha doing the same thing. This control interface is often used as a justification of the humanoid shape because it has more natural and graceful movement than one without the humanoid shape using the same system. Doing this justifies the mecha as an Impossibly Graceful Giant.

This usually comes in two flavours, free control cockpit room inside the mecha (or remote controlled by same) or a large apparatus that the pilot fits into with joysticks and such. The first type of control have the pilot wearing some kind of motion capture suit, or the room itself have a certain motion capture technology, and then the mecha simply mimics it. The second type usually have a mechanized suit, or part of one, inside the cockpit, which is used to capture the motion AND hold the pilot in the seat.

Both types, however, usually need some kind of secondary input device (voice activation, thought control, computer assisted action module, traditional keyboard, etc.) to compensate for anything non-human in the mecha, like propulsion, integrated weapons, etc. Both variants can be done through remote control technology.

Powered Armor or Mini-Mecha may also use the second type to read the operator movement; this is closer to the "hard" end of the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness.

Examples of Motion Capture Mecha include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Landmates in Appleseed move their arms and legs like this: The thighs/upper legs are oversized to fit the operator's legs, while their arms fit in a pair of small "Master" arms in the mech's chest, which the larger "Slave" arms copy the movements of.
  • Daimos is the very 1st one to have this in Anime, despite Kazuya sitting on the cockpit. Only the arm movements are copied, but how does the leg movements get copied too?
  • Gun X Sword: Priscilla's Brownie is the only one like this on the series. However, it's made clear that the system she uses isn't new, it's just that most people don't have the dexterity to pull it off.
  • Gunbuster: Motion Capture Mecha controls the way the Humongous Mecha moves, with girls sitting(?) on a really thin rod. There's a gunner who controls the weapons with a keyboard.
  • G Gundam: The pilot stands on a platform and has a tight rubber suit which controls all the movements so it can function as a kung fu mecha. Special attacks are voice activated. This is different from other mecha in the Gundam verse which generally have nothing but joysticks.
  • Vision of Escaflowne: Piloting a Guymelef was done by moving inside a special harness placed within the chest.
  • The Nirvash's final form in Eureka Seven mimics the pilot's movements. It even helpfully levitates them while flying.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In The Incredible Hulk #275 a new villain named Blackbird breaks into Gamma Base and finds a bunch of discarded, never-used weapons. She's there at the behest of her employer ( the Leader) but can't resist using a Motion Capture Mecha called Megalith which uses brainwaves to move against the Hulk. Turns out there's a reason it's been scrapped without being used: there's mental feedback so that any damage infliced on the mecha is felt by the operator. Oh, and the Hulk bashes it to pieces.

Film[edit | hide]

  • The AMP suits in Avatar work this way, most noticeably when Quaritch is first seen piloting one. He points at Jake; the suit does the same. The arms, hands and upper body are controlled directly from the driver's, including giving feedback against the limbs to represent resistance encountered. Walking and other movements are controlled partly via footpedals though - it is said that while it is very easy to learn the basics, operations such as getting up from a prone position take a lot more practice.
  • Megamind's giant robot has a huge open cockpit with his "Black Mamba" costume doubling as a mocap suit.
  • Appears in the film Real Steel. While most robots are remote-controlled (or voice operated), Atom is equipped with a program called "Shadow Mode," which allows him to perfectly mimic a person's movement. Charlie later uses the Shadow Mode to help Atom fight against World Robot Boxing champion Zeus when the former's voice command receptor is damaged.
  • Robot Jox features giant robots whose pilots' movements are mimicked by the robots, thanks to their special suits.
  • The Jaegers from Pacific Rim are controlled this way by two pilots acting in synchrony.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Gosei Sentai Dairanger: Ryuuseioh, being one of the lightest Sentai mecha ever, follows Ryu Ranger's movements. Even better, it's apparently the face actor in the Ryu Ranger suit for these scenes (and visibly fills the suit out differently).
  • Jyuken Sentai Gekiranger: Like its PR counterpart, all the mecha in the series function like this. Notably, GekiTohja and GekiFire require the movement of three pilots in unison.
  • Power Rangers, a few Zords are explicitly stated to work this way. Tommy once switched the Tigerzord to a mocap mode, having it follow his movements. (The Red Dragon, despite its Dairanger counterpart working this way as stated above, is not outright said to.) Later, the Aquitian Rangers’ Battle Borgs were controlled via psychic link, so the Rangers on the ground would perform moves that would be copied exactly by their machines. Of course, the machine getting hit meant you did too. There are other Zords not stated to work this way but appearing to - the Zords of Power Rangers Jungle Fury are the Rangers’ spirit forms and, in Megazord mode, copy the moves of Rangers who exist in a “cockpit” that has no controls. (This raises the question of how the Rangers control them in animal form, since they can't exactly run around on all fours to bite monsters.)
  • Tomica Hero Rescue Fire has X Dragon Robo. It actually has its own AI and can fight well enough on its own, but it goes into mo-cap mode when doing its Final Rescue. Its combination with Fire Dragon, Rescue King, actually is piloted by Fire-1 X, and is a true mo-cap mecha.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Super Robot Wars:

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • The eponymous Ilivais X has the pilot suspended from retractable cables on all four limbs, which also detect the wearer's movements. This is also aided by a thought control system that involves projecting one's soul into the machine. The other Ilivais units made by the Gaia Forces (aside from the Sho) are outfitted with this same system.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Megas XLR: One of the various alternate modes of control of Coop's giant robot which resembles a DDR dance pad with gloves. Given how incredibly out-of-shape Coop is, it doesn't work for long, which is probably why Coop made it the backup control system. It does manage to work well enough to buy Kiva time to fix the primary system.
  • The second half of Batman Beyond's pilot episode had a lifting arm operated by a guy in the cockpit wearing a two-fingered mechanical glove. The Humongous Mecha Willy Watt takes over later in the season straddles the line between this and thought-control: the normal version is pure mo-cap, but after Willy is mentally linked to it, it does a lot more than Willy's equivalent motion.
  • In the Futurama episode "Raging Bender," Bender fights an Ultimate Robot Fighter many times his size, who is controlled by Phnog, Leela's old martial arts teacher, whom she hates. When Leela realizes that Phnog is controlling the robot directly, she fights him, and gets him to punch himself, using the robot's fist...knocking himself (and the robot) out.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • A Japanese four-legged robot (that was developed to work in nuclear power plants or any other hazardous environment) plays with this. Its motions are computer generated, yet an assisted control personnel can put on two four fingered motion capture controls and assist in its hand and finger motions.
  • The Robonaut series of space robots are designed to enable quick space-walks and repairs aboard the ISS via telepresence.