VolCap 101: What is Volumetric Capture?

What is Volumetric Capture?

Volumetric Capture, sometimes called Volumetric Video or Volcap for short, is the process by which an array of cameras records human (or animal) performances from every angle. The data is reconstructed and compressed to create 3D assets or “holograms” of these dynamic performances. Final holograms can be experienced in virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) or brought into VFX pipelines for creative cinematography that does not strain the talent. 




Volumetric Capture vs. Motion Capture

Volumetric Capture often gets confused with Motion Capture — or Mocap — AKA the process of recording an actors’ motions in film franchises like Avatar (2009; 2022). Motion Capture is the technique of recording movements digitally from multiple cameras, so that the motion can be reapplied to digital characters after-the-fact. An actor can have their full body tracked and recorded, or simply the movements of their face. The goal with mocap is to create a more realistic animated character with less tedious handwork. 


To the layman, a volumetric stage might look similar to a mocap stage, as both volcap and mocap involve actors being captured by a surrounding array of cameras. Each method produces a huge amount of data, requires specific hardware and software, and produces a 3D asset — however, there are key differences between the two approaches in both the production process and final output. 


In motion capture, for the most part, actors are required to wear tracking suits with markers –when capturing facial performance, tiny marker dots all over the face — although recent techniques can work without markers. These markers generate data via the software that corresponds the marker locations. This movement data can then be applied to an asset such as an animated cartoon character or actor’s digital stunt double.


By contrast, in volumetric capture, no special suits are required. 


The subject or performer simply goes out into the capture stage in their regular clothes or costume, without trackers or applied markers. The capture takes place in real time, as the person goes through their actions. This data then goes through a render step, and what comes off the render farm is production ready — no additional animation needed. You have a totally authentic representation of what transpired live. 



Want to learn more? Check out our projects: https://metastage.com/projects/

Contact us at: team@metastage.com 

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