Liwei Zhao (DBLP) defended his thesis in 2001 which was called Synthesis and Acquisition of Laban Movement Analysis Qualitative Parameters for Communicative Gestures (Penn Library, pdf). He studied under Norman Badler at the Center for Human Modeling and Simulation. Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is used to annotate movement.

Rudolf Laban proposed a theory called Effort/Shape to describe human movement. LMA is used by dancers, athletes, physical and occupational therapists. Laban created Labanotation specifically for Dance notation. As such it makes use of and incorporates LMA. I was told not to confuse the two, so there you have it. A school called LIMS guards the precious LMA treasure. You need to be brainwashed study there to become a CMA (certified movement analyst).

The Effort of a movement consists of four factors, and it can be given two extreme values on that scale or no value. The graph (source) shows the way these values are indicated in a single figure: * Space: Direct / Indirect * Weight: Strong / Light * Time: Quick / Sustained * Flow: Bound / Free

Anyway, Liwei Zaho’s research there focused on interesting aspects of gesture technology. In his thesis he starts by quoting Kendon on the missing link of gesture studies: what makes a movement a gesture? Kendon wrote in 1980 about how one can identify gestures, and in his 2004 book it appears science did not make much progress in this area.

Unfortunately, Liwei Zhao’s thesis seems not to spend too much effort on that question either. He seems more focussed on getting the modeling of gestures right. And to that end Zhao studied if and how he could apply the theory of Laban Movement Analysis. Zhao and Badler worked on both the synthesis of (qualities of) gestures and on the automatic recognition of (qualities of) gestures.

Trajectories of motion styles with varying Time factors: left=sustained; middle=neutral; right=quick (source).

Zhao reports that he was fairly well able to automatically extract the right Effort from movements that were made by an actor. Using motion capture was more reliable than using cameras.