How to become a Motion Capture Artist
The question of how does one become a motion artist is hard to answer as it pertains first and foremost to the performer. A lot of MOCAP (Motion Capture) performers have specialisms in stage and screen combat, puppetry and/or physical theatre/skills of an advanced nature (ie. acrobatics or parkour) - a specialism that sets them apart.
Secondly, as is with acting in general, it depends what the studio / director / casting director is looking to cast. If they are looking to cast a name, they will do. If they are looking to cast performers for stock moves they will look to that, and if they are looking to cast an actor fitting the role, they will judge on acting ability and suitability to that role, and collect the data around that performance.
There are a variety of motion capture roles and formats. Facial recognition is one and full motion capture, or performance capture as it is otherwise called, is another. My advice to anyone wishing to work within this field is:
- find what it is that sets you apart as a performer and suited to MOCAP. Find what it is you can offer that is useful to a casting director
- investigate who is casting a lot of the motion capture movies / computer games these days. Research them and projects and perhaps submit your interest to them should a project you feel suited to come up that they are casting.
- do a motion capture course to become familiar with the recording requirements and pitfalls. It will also help you discover or confirm whether you are up for the physicality and mental control required in this performance style. There is also an adapted physical language for this style which differs from stage and screen work.
- Follow / link to motion capture performers and companies on sites such as LinkedIn and IMDb. Discover which companies are working a lot in this field and what is in pre-production at the moment. Facebook also is a great source for avenues of motion capture either when looking at performers (and looking on their CVs to see which companies they have worked for in that field) or companies themselves. There are a great deal of international and home grown motion capture studios that have details on this social networking site. Google is also a great starting point.
- write to motion capture companies and find out whether they are in need of performers and whether they use external casting avenues. There are UK based companies such as The Imaginarium (Ealing Studios), Centroid 3D, Ubisoft Reflections Studios, Audiomotion, etc.
- if you have an agent, discuss with them as to whether they have any advice or links in this area. If your agent seems not to have the links you need, and this is an area of the entertainment industry you really are passionate about, perhaps thinking about changing your agent to one with motion capture links and contacts is advisable.
- Maybe consider approaching schools of motion capture like Portsmouth University to see if they would appreciate any actors to work with on a free basis for experience in the field and possible showreel material.
Motion Capture is just like any other specialism within
the acting profession. It takes drive and passion - and a lot of the time, time and effort to establish oneself and make links. It is also not a one person project. Animators, editors, data trackers and sound engineers will all work with the performer to create the final performance piece.
All the best. Keep plugging away and keep working to add to your skill base and motion capture experience.