My Adventures in Motion Capture

Hey readers! I’m going to try something a little different today and give you a window into a part of my life that is usually completely under the radar: Motion Capture! Feel free to call it Mocap. It’s definitely easier to type.

I have been doing Mocap for almost 10 years now. I started when I answered an ad for a small hobby studio in South Vancouver. It was with Alistair MacLeod, who was developing what would become PeelSolve.

I became Al’s ‘go-to guy’ and spent a lot of time in some homemade Mocap suits. Great fun. Over time, the little studio developed, and eventually became The Sawmill Studios. A better array of cameras and standardized suits filtered in, and new personnel did too.

One of those was Ramiro Cuenca, who has become one of my closest friends, my partner in filmmaking, and my gateway to the Mocap I’m doing now.

I can’t say much about the Mocap I’ve done or am doing. I’m often under an NDA or 2, which are Non-Disclosure Agreements, protecting the people who’ve hired me and their intellectual property.

What I can say is that after The Sawmill I’ve worked at Scanline VFX, including on some of the productions in Ramiro’s demo reel, which can be found here.

While most of the Mocap I’ve done has been research and development, there’s some pretty high profile stuff in there, and it’s really cool to have worked on it.

I’m currently working with Versatile Media as a contracted Motion Capture performer. As always, I can’t say much other than they’re amazing people, it’s such a cool facility, and I’m so very privileged to be a part of things.

Here’s a fun move I did recently at Versatile. It’s just something I did, not indicative of anything they’re doing. I was hoping for a cool still shot, but they did me one better with slow motion.

While show-offy jumps and such are really cool, the reasons I’ve been able to do Mocap this long, and why they keep bringing me back, are more about overall approach. I keep in excellent shape, with emphasis on core strength and hip flexibility. I take direction well and rarely need a lot of takes to get the motion. My fundamental role is that of an actor, and these jobs require acting almost all of the time.

In addition, my history with Mocap has made me more accountable. There’s often a pretty shocking difference between how you think you move and how you actually move. Mocap captures everything. You can’t hide.

As well, working with the technology has built up some great habits, like instinctively avoiding occlusion (where a marker is covered or blocked, sometimes by something simple like crossing your arms).

Doing Mocap has been incredibly difficult and incredibly humbling. I found a lot of limitations, but plenty of those were well past where I ever thought they’d be. It has given me a reason to stay fit, and a style of fitness to aim for. It has definitely made me a better actor, and I’m so happy to be able to continue to apply and develop my skill.

Thank you to everyone that’s made this possible for me. It’s been an ongoing dream come true, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

If you’re interested in finding out more about Mocap, please feel free to drop you questions here in the comments. I can do my best to answer them, and if there’s a lot of interest, I can go into greater detail in future columns. Thanks for reading!

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