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Motion Capture Mecha
aka: Mo Cap Mecha
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 has a certain motion capture technology, and 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.
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
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Anime and Manga
- 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×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: This trope describes the way the titular Humongous Mecha (and the mass-produced Sizzler units descended from it) are controlled, with girls sitting/standing on a really thin rod and using arm and leg servos. The Gunbuster itself also has a Guy in Back who controls the weapons with a keyboard.
- G Gundam: Called the Mobile Trace System, 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.
- Mazinger Z: The Super Robot Genre Trope Maker showed a primitive form of this. Although Kouji used a pair of joysticks and an array of buttons, levers and pedals to move Mazinger-Z, often Mazinger mirrored his motions inside the cockpit and vice versa (one example happened in an episode where a Robeast burrowed into the ground to try to escape. Mazinger-Z grabbed the Mechanical Beast's legs and leaned his body and head backwards as it struggled to pull the Mechanical Beast out of the ground. Inside the cockpit, Kouji was in the exact same position, doing the exact same thing).
- 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.
- The Mashin of Magic Knight Rayearth operate in this manner, wielding scaled-up versions of the trio's Escudo swords and reflecting their injuries back on them, although the Mashin are more specifically guardian gods that take the form of giant mechs rather than being actual mechanical devices.
- Downplayed in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu. The Power Glove feature of Gaiking allows it to mimic its pilot's hand and arm movements, but nothing else.
- 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.
- 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. Mostly this is used to pre-program moves used on command, but 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.
- This is how the giant Reptar robot works in Rugrats in Paris. Chuckie eventually takes control of it, leading to a scene where the robot scratches it's butt as Chuckie tries to yank a wedgie out of his shorts. Later on he uses it to beat another giant robot by imitating a Jackie Chan movie he saw on an airplane.
- The Jeagers in Pacific Rim exhibit an unusual version of this, with two pilots working in tandem to control the mechas. A neural bridge helps to improve synchronicity between the pilots.
- Mainly a Type 2 interface. The pilots are hooked into a rig that lets them manipulate the arms and legs of the Jaeger, depending on which side they're on (left pilot controls the left arm/leg and vice versa). Additional armaments and propulsion are activated via voice command and keyboards inside the cockpit. The opening narration also mentions a neural link to the Jaeger itself, but doesn't elaborate on how it fits into the control system save that it puts too much strain on the user's brain, hence splitting the load between two pilots.
- In Stanislaw Lem's Fiasko, the Diglators are controlled like this. It briefly backfires when the pilot reaches to scratch his nose and ends up smashing his head projector.
- 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). This didn't translate into Season 2 of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, though, as while Ryuuseioh was carried over (as the Red Dragon Thunderzord) the Ryu Ranger footage was not. However, MMPR did show Tommy switching the Tigerzord into a mocap mode.
- In Mighty Morphin' Season 3, 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.
- Juken Sentai Gekiranger and Power Rangers Jungle Fury had the mecha copy the moves of Rangers who exist in a "cockpit" that has no controls. Notably, GekiTohja and GekiFire/the Jungle Pride and Jungle Master Megazords require the movement of three pilots in unison.
- Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger has a setup similar to Gekiranger.
- 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.
- Robot Combat League is all about these fighting each other. They allow for an impressive array of moves, with parries and such.
- BattleTech has a limited example of this. The pilot controls the mech using two to three joysticks, a throttle lever, two to four pedals, and a Neurohelmet (used to balance the mech). Melee combat is normally accomplished by aiming at a nearby enemy and hitting the "punch" button to let the computer sort it all out, but some mechs are equipped with a waldo which the pilot sticks his hand in to control the mech's arm, for for more finesse - a battlemech is unlikely to have one, but a IndustrialMech probably has one. BattleArmor uses hand signals to control its weapons; to fire the built-in lasers, one must point their index and middle finger forwards, clasp their ring and little finger to their palm, and then cover them with their thumb in order to fire. The rest of the battlearmor is controlled by servo-motors to assist the soldier's movement, or by eyesight to trigger heads-up-display elements. While Protomechs are too small for a full cockpit so pilots need to use their neurohelmet and enhanced imaging exclusively to operate it.
- The "Direct Motion Link" System in the Dygenguard from Super Robot Wars Alpha. As a Shout-Out to G Gundam and its Mobile Trace System, a pilot stands using a harness-like device to control the mecha through body motions, mimcing their movements inside the cockpit. This is perfect for the Dygenguard's Samurai pilot Sanger Zonvolt, who uses a sword hilt in the cockpit to replicate his sword techniques.
- When Super Robot Wars Original Generation: Divine Wars was released, the Valsione belonging to Lune Zoldark reveals a similiar, but earlier design of the Direct Motion Link System. In the Valsione's case, the system also mimics the pilot's face, since the machine is really a giant Robot Girl of sorts.
- The Soulgain and Zweizergain from Super Robot Wars Advance, revealed via The Inspectors Animated Adaptation, also uses an off-shoot of the Direct Motion Link System, but is instead known as the "Direct Feedback" System. While mimicing its pilot's movements, it also allows the pilot to execute Ki Attacks through a build-up of emotions.
- At least in the supplemental materials, all Shura Gods from Super Robot Wars Compact 3 uses an unnamed system that looks similar to the Direct Motion Link System. Regardless, this trope fits for Shura characters, since they're all martial art practicioners.
- Uniquely done in Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 with the RaiOh. After its pilot Touma Kanou was driven Brainwashed and Crazy due to the flawed LIOH System overpumping adrenaline into him, the Alpha Numbers deem the LIOH system too dangerous, swapping it out with the Direct Motion Link System. Touma, who knows bits of karate, is forced into Training from Hell by his peers to effectively use the system and its advantages. This culminates in one event where his mastery of using this trope essentially destroys any need for the LIOH System when he requests his allies putting it back into the machine.
- Metal Fatigue's giant Combots are controlled by a group of four, with the main pilot using this method to do all the major controls like moving and attacking. The rest of the squad then manages things like engines and orther systems.
- Omnigears in Xenogears don't even require motion. They respond entirely to mental commands (you picture the robot moving in your head and the actual robot mimics this) and the cockpit it otherwise empty aside from a seat for the pilot to sit in. This is justified by them being essentially magic, created by an individual in possession of a Gear approaching one of several ancient artifacts and being "compatible" with it, which will promptly bond with the Gear. This new Omnigear will only respond for this person or their direct decendents. This doesn't seem to stop people with regular Gears from making them replicate their own complicated martial arts techniques using regular control sticks.
- The titular machines in Titanfall seem to partly use this trope; the Militia's opening for the first campaign level (revealed in this trailer) show an AI Pilot giving orders to the ground troops from inside his Titan, with the cockpit open while the Titan mimics his hand gestures, suggesting that a Titan's upper body is controlled through motion capture. But this is all we really get to see of their control system so there's no indication on how they control the lower body. They could use the same control system as the suits from Avatar, mentioned up in the Film examples.
- Endless Legend has motion capture cavalry. The Cultists Of the Eternal End's cavalry unit, the Fanatic, is a horse-sized Endless quadrupedal robot which has its movements synchronized to a Cultist standing on top - the Cultist raises its arms and drops them to set the Fanatic's power source in motion, and swipes down with its hands to make the Fanatic strike with its legs.
- 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.
- LIMBs in My Life At War have a single arm controlled by the pilot using a gauntlet on their right arm, leaving them free to operate secondary controls with their left.
- 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 and it being unable to use any of MEGAS's weapons but its arms and legs, 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.
- In Pinky and the Brain, while Brain's robot suit is controlled by levers that always seem to stick, Snowball's robot suit is controlled through motion capture. The suits may not seem giant, but they are to the mouse and hamster controlling them.
- Parodied in the Gravity Falls episode "Gideon Rising", where Li'l Gideon controls one of these while wearing an actual mo-cap suit, complete with ping-pong ball sensors.
- A Japanese four legged robot that was developed to work in nuclear power plants or any other hazardous environment, subverts this. Its motions are computer generated, yet a 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.