Drag Mocap Archive

Exploring documentation of movement practices in drag through motion capture.

This project is ongoing, and the current state serves as a proof of concept! This version documents the work of two drag performers, Chevy Lace and Hugh Mann Race, using Optitrack, Motive, and Unreal Engine. For each performer, I recorded a series of common movements through motion capture, as well as one full performance each which is additionally documented in video form.

Future iterations of this project will ideally include more performers, more customized avatars, interviews with each performer to add aditional context to their work, and facial and hand capture.


Avatars were an ongoing challenge for this project-since 3D modeling is outside of my skillset at the moment,I was limited to working with premade avatars. Existing avatar makers are extremely limited in terms of body type and characteristics - they tend to be very binary gendered and thin, which is frustrating when trying to document an art form that's highly personalized and so much about gender play. Ideally, a future version of this project would include custom avatars for each participant.

I ultimately ended up using a combination of MetaHuman (for facial capture) and Ready Player Me (for body capture through Optitrack) avatars for my two documented performers.

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Photo of Chevy + his Ready Player me and MetaHuman avatars.
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Photo of Hugh Mann Race + his Ready Player me and MetaHuman avatars.

Movement Archive

I documented a series of common movements in drag spaces for each performer, including: Idle/Waiting to Perform, Cheering, Collecting Tips, and Do a Trick
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Chevy's recorded movements.
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Hugh's recorded movements.

Performance Capture

Full performances documented via video by Rachel Rampleman, and with motion capture, using the OptiTrack system.

Original filming of "Somebody's Watching Me" performed by Chevy Lace - Video by Rachel Rampleman

Original filming of "Scorpion to the Toad" performed by Hugh Mann Race - Video by Rachel Rampleman

Facial Capture

Since facial expression and lip sync are such a huge part of drag performance, I wanted to include facial capture. This was achieved using LiveLink and MetaHuman models and streaming directly into unreal, although I wasn't able to implement it fully into the performances at this time.
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