One of the coolest of my recent experiences was performing motion capture work for a video game. Although I had loved Andy Serkis’ work in The Lord of the Rings, and was fascinated by the way in which this living, breathing human was transformed into the dreadful and pathetic creature, Gollum, I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do anything similar. Enter: one audition for a video game.
Just as with my audition for the first job I ever booked in T-town, I had to read for the director from a script other than the one my character would be using. So top secret was this game that the real script was under lock and key. I had to sign oaths of secrecy before the audition. After I booked the job, even more paperwork was given to me requiring my silence unto the 7th generation!!
We worked at the same studio where James Cameron shot a great deal of the motion capture work for Avatar. We donned black body suits adorned with white dots and sported jazzy helmets with a camera and a microphone attached. No make-up at all, just dozens of dots all over your face for the cameras to track.
It was a blast and very freeing as an actor. Since you are surrounded by cameras, you never have to worry about where you are in space. The sets are mere suggestions of what will be graphically generated and enhanced by the computer squad, so it’s rather like working in a black box theatre. Also, since the cameras are only capturing you in motion and the subtle movements of your facial expressions, any character can be layered over your avatar. In this one game I played a lurid looking woman who morphed into a multi-tentacled demon, a flirtatious little babe at a disco and an enormous, jealous, vomiting slug. Ah, the glamour. You know, if it weren’t for the glamour I’d get out of this business.
This job was under the aegis of SAG, paid well, and made pension and health contributions. I have been told that more and more casting requests are going out for actors with Motion-Capture experience. I loved it. It was as if I were being paid to go to school and have recess all day long.
IF YOU GET THE CHANCE TO WORK AS A MOTION CAPTURE ACTOR, BE SURE TO CAPTURE THAT MO-MENT!