Kistler Force Plate Setup

This page provides instructions on how to integrate a Kistler force plate system with an OptiTrack motion capture system.


When a motion capture system is used in conjunction with force plates, they work together as an efficient tool for various research applications including biomechanical analysis, clinical gait analysis, physiology research, sports performance research, and many more. An OptiTrack motion capture system can synchronize with force plates to obtain both kinematic and kinetic measurements. Note that force plate integration is supported only with a Prime camera system using the eSync 2 synchronization hub. This page provides quick guidelines for setting up and configuring force plates — with digital outputs — along with the OptiTrack motion capture system.

For detailed information on specifications and configurations on the force plates, refer to the documentation provided by the force plate manufacturer.

Analog Platforms

Analog force plate devices can only be implemented via DAQ devices. Incoming voltage signals can be detected through the data acquisition channels, but force plate related software features (vectors, position calibration, etc.) will not be supported in Motive for the analog platforms. Refer to the NI-DAQ Setup page for detailed instructions on integrating analog devices.

Starting from Motive 3.0, reference clock synchronization while in Live mode is supported.

Required Components

  • Kistler Data Acquisition System

  • Kistler Force Plate

  • Control I/O, Sync breakout box

  • Prime series Ethernet camera system with the eSync 2 synchronization hub.

  • Motive 2.1 or above.

Hardware Setup

Component Wiring (Kistler)

Kistler Force Plate System Setup

Connect each force plate to the Data Acquisition device, and connect the USB uplink cable from the acquisition device to the host PC. For detailed instructions on setting up the Force Plate system with a host PC, refer to the Kistler documentation.

Camera System Setup

Setup the OptiTrack camera system and place the force plate(s) at the desired location(s); ideally, near the center of the volume. See Quick Start Guide or Hardware Setup page for details.

Wiring the eSync with the Data Acquisition device

For accurate synchronizations, the eSync 2 synchronization hub must be used. The eSync 2 has signal output ports that are used to send out synchronization signals to child devices. Connect the BNC output ports of the eSync to sync input ports (Genlock/Trigger Input) of force plate amplifiers.Kistler force plates have a sync I/O breakout (Control I/O) accessory that connects to the amplifier. The eSync will connect to one of the inputs of this sync I/O box. For triggered sync, connect the output port of the eSync to the Trigger Input. For external clock sync, connect the output to the Sync Input of the sync I/O box.

Hot Plugging

Hot plugging is not supported with the integration. When a new device is connected to the system, you must re-start Motive to instantiate it.

Software Setup

Kistler Software Setup

Before integrating Kistler force plates into Motive, make sure all of the components required by Kistler system are set up on the computer. This includes BioWare software, the device driver (InstaCal), and other required software components. The force plate system must be recognized by Kistler's software before it can be used in Motive.

Once they are all installed, launch the BioWare software and register each force plate. During this process, you will input device information such as model number, serial number, and platform specs to configure the device setting. For more information, please refer to manufacturer documentation.

Peripheral Device Module

In order to integrate force plate systems with Motive, you will need to setup the required drivers and plugins. Motive installer is packaged with the Peripheral Device module which can be added. During the Motive installation, a list of program features will be shown in the Custom Setup section. Here, change the setting for the Peripheral Device module, as shown in the below image, so that the module is installed along with Motive Files.

Note : Even if you are not using NI-DAQ, it is still necessary to install NI-DAQmx drivers that come up next in the installer.

For Kistler Customers

Kistler system also requires Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 Redistributable - x64 to be installed on the computer. If it is not already on the computer, you will get prompted to set this up during Motive installation process. Please make sure to have this installed as well.

Kistler Configuration Profile

After registering the force plate in BioWare, next step is to export out the device configuration XML file. In BioWare, go to the SetupSave DataServer Configuration File to export out the configuration XML file. To add the Kistler force plates in Motive, this XML file containing the force plate information must be added to the Motive directory. Copy-and-paste the Configuration.xml file into the C:\ProgramData\OptiTrack\Motive\DeviceProfiles directory, and then rename the file to Kistler.xml. Once this is done, Motive should initialize the force plates that are detected by computer and that are registered within the XML file.

Force Plate Setup in Motive

1. Start Motive

If the hardware and software for the force plates are configured and successfully recognized, Motive will list out the detected force plates with number labels (1, 2, etc..). Motive will notify you of incorrect or nonexistent force plate calibration files. When the devices are successfully instantiated in Motive, the Log pane will indicate that the device has been created and loaded.

2. Calibrate Cameras

Calibrate the capture volume as normal to get the orientation of the cameras (see the Quick Start Guide or Calibration page for more information). The position of the force plate is about the center of the volume, and when you recalibrate or reset the ground plane, you will need to also realign the position of your force plates for best results.

3. Setup CS-400

On the CS-400 calibration square, pull the force plate alignment tabs out and put the force plate leveling jigs at the bottom. The leveling jigs align the calibration square to the surface of your force plate. The alignment tabs allow you to put the CS-400 flush against the sides of your force plate giving the most accurate alignment.

4. Place CS-400 on force plate

Place the calibration wand on the force plate so that vertex of the wand is located at the right-hand corner of the side where the cable input is located (as shown in the image below). A correct placement of the calibration square is important because it determines the orientation of the force plate and its local coordinate axis within the global system. The coordinate systems for force plates are independent of the system used Motive.

Kistler Force Plates

Kistler force plates use the right-hand system. The long arm of CS-400 will define the Y axis, and the short arm will define the X axis of the force plate. Accordingly, Z axis is directed downwards for measuring the vertical force.

5. Set force plate position in Motive.

After placing the calibration square on the force plate, select the CS-400 markers in Motive. Right click on the force plate you want to locate, and click Set Position. When there are multiple force plates in a volume, you may need to step on the force plate to find which platform the calibration square is on. In Motive, uncalibrated force plates will light up in green and a force vector will appear when you step on the plate. Repeat step 4 and 5 for other force plates as necessary.

Referencing to the markers on the calibration square, Motive defines the location of the force plate coordinate system within the global coordinate system.

Motive uses manufacturer defined X, Y, and Z mechanical-to-electrical center offset when calculating the force vector and the center of pressure. For digital based plates, this information is available from the SDK and also stored in the plate's on-board calibration data.

6. Zero force plates.

After you have calibrated each of your force plates, remove the CS-400 from the volume. Right click one of your force plates in Motive and click Zero (all). This will tare the scale and set the current force on the plate data to 0. This will account for a small constant amount of measurement offset from the force plate. Remember that it zeros all of the force plates at once. So make sure there are no objects on any of the force plates.

7. Set sampling rate

Sampling rate of force plates is configured through the synchronization setup which will be covered in the following section.

Supported force plate sampling rates: Kistler plates support rates sampling rates between 10~2000 Hz. Make sure the synchronization is configured that the force plates sample at the supported speed.

Synchronization Configuration

There are two synchronization approaches you could take: Synchronization through clock signal or through recording trigger signal.

Synchronization via clock signal utilizes the internal clock signal of the eSync to synchronize the sampling of the force plates on per-frame basis. However, when there is another device (e.g. NI-DAQ) being synchronized to the clock signal frequency, the sampling rate cannot be set for each individual device. In that case, triggered sync must be used for synchronizing the initial recording trigger. Synchronization via trigger signal utilizes the recording trigger in Motive to align the initial samples from both systems. After the initial sync, both systems run freely at their own sampling rate. If the force plates are running at whole multiples of the camera system, the collected samples will be aligned. However, since the sampling clocks are not perfectly accurate, alignment of the samples may slowly drift over time. Thus, when synchronizing via recording trigger, it is better to keep the record times short.

When synchronizing through the eSync, use the following steps to configure the sync settings in Motive. This will allow both systems to be triggered simultaneously with reference to the parent synchronization device, the eSync.

Sync Configuration Steps: eSync 2

Reference Clock Sync Setup Steps

  1. Open the Devices pane and the Properties pane.

  2. In the Devices pane, select the eSync among the listed devices. This will list out the synchronization settings in the properties pane for the selected eSync.

  3. In the Properties pane, under Sync Input Settings section, set the Source to Internal Clock.

  4. Next, to the Clock Frequency section, input the sampling rate that you wish the run the force plates in. This clock signal will be eventually outputted to the force plate system to control the sampling rate. For this guide, let's set this to 1200 Hz.

  5. Once the clock frequency is set, apply the Input Divider/Multiplier to the clock frequency to set the framerate of the camera system. For example, if you set the Input Divider to 10 and the Input Multiplier to 2 with internal clock frequency running at 1200 Hz, the camera system will be running at 240 FPS. The resulting frame rate of the camera system will be displayed in the Camera Rate section.

  6. Next step is to configure the output signal so that the clock signal can be sent to the force plate system. Under the Outputs section, enable the corresponding output port of the eSync which the force plate system is connected to.

  7. Set the Output 1-4 → Type to Internal Clock.

  8. Now that the eSync has been configured, you need to configure the force plate properties in Motive. While the force plate(s) is selected in Motive, access the Properties pane to view the force plate properties. Here, set the following properties:

  9. Record Trigger → False

  10. Reference Clock Sync → True

  11. eSync Output Channel → output port used on the eSync.

Once this is set, the force plate system will start sampling at the frequency of the clock signal configured on the eSync, and this rate will be displayed on the Devices pane as well.

eSync 2 Settings Tip:

In Motive 3.0 and above, you can quickly configure eSync into biomech sync settings by right-clicking on the eSync from the Devices pane and select one of the presets from the context menu. This will enable and set all of the eSync outputs to the Internal Clock and set the clock frequency.

Live Data

Starting from Motive 3.0, clock synchronization in Live mode is supported, and the force vector visualization will be available both in Live and Edit modes.

How to Validate your Synchronization

Before you start recording, you may want to validate that the camera and force plate data are in sync. There are some tests you can do to examine this.

The first method is to record dropping a retroreflective ball/marker onto the platform few times. The bouncing ball produces a sharp transition when it hits the surface of the platform, and it makes the data more obvious for validating the synchronization. Alternately, you can attach a marker on a tip of the foot and step on and off the force plate. Make sure that your toe — closest to the marker — strikes the platform first, otherwise the data will seem off even when it is not. You can then monitor the precise timing of the ball or the foot impacting the force plate and compare them between the mocap data and the force plate data.

The following is an example of validating good synchronization outcomes:

Device Settings Profile

All of the configured device settings, including the calibration, get saved on Device Profile XML files. When you exit out of Motive, updated device profiles will be saved under the program data directory (C:\ProgramData\OptiTrack\Motive\DeviceProfiles), and this file gets loaded again when you restart Motive. You can have this file backed up to persist configured eSync 2 and device settings. Also, if you wish to reset the device settings, you can remove XML files other than the default one from the folder, and Motive will load from the default settings.

Force Plate Data in Motive

Force plate data can be monitored from the Graph View pane. You will need to either use a provided Force Plate Forces layout or configure a custom graph layouts to show force plate data. To view the force plate data, make sure the corresponding force plates are selected, or selection-locked, in Motive.

If you are configuring your own force plate graph layout, make sure the desired force plate data channels (Fx, Fy, Fz, Mx, My, or Mz) are selected to be plotted. Then, when you select a force plate in Motive, and the data from the corresponding channels will be plotted on the graphs. When both reconstructed markers and force plate channels are selected, the force plot will be sub-sampled in order to be plotted along with trajectory data. For more information about how to configure graph layouts, read through the Graph View pane page.

Live Force Plate Data


  • The force and moment data reflects the coordinate system defined by the force plate manufacturer, which is typically the Z-down right-handed coordinate system. Note: This convention is independent of the global coordinate system used in Motive. Thus, the Fz components represent the vertical force. For more in-depth information, refer to the force plate specifications.

Data Export

We recommend the following programs for analyzing exported data in biomechanics applications:

C3D Export

Motive exports tracking data and force plate data into C3D files. Exported C3D files can then be imported into a biomechanics analysis and visualization software for further processing. See the Data Export or Data Export: C3D page for more information about C3D export in Motive. Note that the coordinate system used in Motive (y-up right-handed) may be different from the convention used in the biomechanics analysis software.

C3D Axes

Common Conventions

Since Motive uses a different coordinate system than the system used in common biomechanics applications, it is necessary to modify the coordinate axis to a compatible convention in the C3D exporter settings. For biomechanics applications using z-up right-handed convention (e.g. Visual3D), the following changes must be made under the custom axis.

  • X axis in Motive should be configured to positive X

  • Y axis in Motive should be configured to negative Z

  • Z axis in Motive should be configured to positive Y.

This will convert the coordinate axis of the exported data so that the x-axis represents the anteroposterior axis (left/right), the y-axis represents the mediolateral axis (front/back), and the z-axis represents the longitudinal axis (up/down).

CSV Export

Force plate data and the tracking data can be exported into CSV files as well. When a Take file is exported into a CSV file. Separate CSV files will be saved for each force plate and it will contain the force, moment, and center of pressure data. Exported CSV file can be imported for analysis.

Data Streaming

To stream tracking data along with the force plate data, open the Data Streaming Pane and check the Broadcast Frame Data, and make sure that you are not streaming over the camera network. Read more about streaming from the Data Streaming workflow page.

Motive can stream the tracking data and the force plate data into various applications — including Matlab — using NatNet Streaming protocol. Find more about NatNet streaming from the User's Guide included in the download.

Number of Force Plates

At the time of writing, there is a hard limit on the maximum number of force plate data that can be streamed out from Motive. Please note that only up to 8 force plate data can be streamed out from Motive and received by a NatNet SDK 4.0 application.

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