Summary. Continuous shape change is represented as curves in the shape space. A method for checking the closeness of these curves to a geodesic is presented. Three large databases of short human motions are considered and shown to be well approximated by geodesics. The motions are thus approximated by two shapes on the geodesic and the rate of progress along the path. An analysis of facial motion data taken from a study of subjects with cleft lip or cleft palate is presented that allows the motion to be considered independently from the static shape. Inferential methods for assessing the change in motion are presented. The construction of predicted animated motions is discussed.