How can an individual create motion capture?

Motion Capture- or mocap for short- is the process of replicating human movements to recreate them in a 3d world. Most motion capture that I know of is in million dollar movies of video games. I’m not rich, in fact I’m not willing to spend a lot. Is it possible to create realistic movements with 3d models without having to move each joint individually?
If so, what programs are good for that sort of thing?

The only thing I can think of is some tech dudes hacking a Wii controller or similar device to record MoCap data. I’m not sure if those hacks are available though.

Man, you should definitely check Cinema Mo Cap, a software in the Unity Asset Store, that you can buy for 60$. Add a kinect to that (~100$ if you don’t have one) and with less than 200$ you can achieve quite good results:

if you can afford you can try these:

some basic system will cost around 10k $

  • software, 6 cameras (minimum) , tripods, suits, trackers (those small reflective balls)
  • it is marker based system so it has some issues with more complicated motion but you get pretty high quality detailed motion data
    what might be a problem is that you will need large space 6 x 6 meters or so and lots of black cloth to cover windows and all reflective objects in a room

then there is

  • you should get at least basic license (500$ / year) or if you want better results pro license (1200$ / year)
    you can also get 3 month licenses which are 250/600$
    you will need 2 Kinects or 4 SONY PS3 Eye cameras
  • if you are using latest Kinects you will need extra PCs - 1 for each Kinect camera because of their SDKs

this system will be able to solve complicated motions (like rolling on floor or such)
but it is not as precise as Optitrack’s system - if you apply heavy filtering to reduce jittering you might get results that look more like keyframed animation - still pretty good and easy to use, also you won’t need big space like you would with Optitrack and you won’t need any special suits or markers

then there is 15k-ish Xsens inertial system which is good because you can use it in all kinds of environments

now, for facial mocap you could try let’s say Mixamo’s FacePlus (it is cheap and works with Kinects) (not too expensive - they have trial version so you might try it)
then there is Optitrack marker based system - if you already have your cameras then all you have to get is software (around 1500$ or so) and facial markers and glue (you might want to buy few sets)
there is also pretty cheap and easy to use Zign Track

190$ / 900 - 190 version is good enough for most needs

there are many other systems around and new ones are coming out so you might want to check for some other systems

as for hands (fingers) - well, data gloves are like 1000-ish $ a piece (you will need 2 - 1 for each hand) but some really good ones are 10-15k (each)

once you finally get your system you will also need lots of special props and storage space - for example you might need a threadmill to capture walk and run cycles, some hollow doors and stuff (in case you are using optical systems so cameras can see actor through the door or such) and also some actors/stunts

if you want better quality motion capture data you will need to buy better cameras and more of them so you can cover larger spaces, then you will need bigger place for capturing and storing your gear - that is how mocap system prices are getting more and more expensive

sometimes it is easier to just get some already finished motions from online shops even if you have your own system or even to order some custom motions for your own project

We are using Perception Neuron in our studios It is about $2000 but it works well.