Biomechanics of Human Movement

MVS 330

Motion Analysis with Digital Video

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The ability to describe motion is a fundamental skill needed by kinesiologists. The basics of motion analysis are taught in Movement Science 330, a course that is offered each semester.  Active learning using instructional technology is incorporated into the course project. Students learn to analyze human motion by capturing movements of their choice on videotape and then transferring the images to digital format on the computer. Once in digital format, the students conduct biomechanical analyses to determine the essential elements of human motor performance.

This project was conceived and designed by Melissa Gross and was developed with support from the Information Technology Division's Office of Instructional Technology (OIT). Services and equipment essential to the project are made available to students at OIT's Instructional Technology Lab (ITL) and New Media Center (NMC). Funding to develop the project was provided by the ITD/Division of Kinesiology Partnership


Project Description

Students work in teams to compare the biomechanics of two movements of their choice. The project requires students to do the following:

  1. select the movements to be compared
  2. plan a biomechanical analysis
  3. capture the motions on videotape
  4. convert the videotaped images to digital format
  5. generate x and y coordinates for the joint markers
  6. analyze the movement biomechanics, including temporal, linear, and angular measures
  7. write a report with embedded motion images and graphs
  8. publish their report on the web


Technology Requirements

To complete their projects, students work with the following software on Macintosh computers:

  1. video digitizing software (FusionRecorder) on classroom workstations at UM New Media Center
  2. custom software for transforming Quicktime movies to PICT files (developed by UM's OIT)
  3. image digitizing software (MotionCapture) for digitizing joint markers
  4. biomechanical software (MotionAnalyse) for generating project data
  5. spreadsheet software (Excel) for producing graphs and descriptive statistics
  6. word processing software (Word) for producing the final report
  7. HTML authoring software (Home Page) for putting reports on the web


Project Example

Students use biomechanical data to answer a question about human movement, such as the effect of flippers on the kinematics of kicking (below). For other projects, see Past Projects.

Swimming with flippers vs. swimming without flippers

See video (requires Netscape 3.0 and Quicktime 2.5)




Melissa Gross , Ph.D. -
The University of Michigan, Division of Kinesiology

Revised 9/99
©1996 Melissa Gross, Ph.D.