May 10, 2019

How to Act in a Mo-Cap Suit

Motion capture uses actors movements to create realistic computer-generated characters, but how does that affect actors? 

When I hear motion capture, I think about actors prancing around in tights with ping-pong balls flailing around them. But, as many commenters have suggested, I am an idiot. What's actually going on is a much more complex process where the movements and expressions of an actor are digitally transmitted to a computer that then attempts to model that stuff into a character that usually looks nothing like that human being. Sometimes it's a monkey, sometimes it's Thanos, sometimes it's a much younger or older version of that human being. 

But that's, generally, what motion capture is and how it is used. 

Considering the high-level VFX in Hollywood today, mo-cap is becoming a more and more popular way to bring realism to specific performances. 

So How Do Mo-Cap Suits Affect Actors? 

First off, it's not as easy as climbing into the costume and moving around. There are a ton of basic movements actors have to do over and over again to form a symbiotic language with the sensors covering their body. Then, it's not just about how you move. It's about the idea of movement. 

Many times, you're wearing motion capture suit to embody someone not human. So you need to center your gravity like that thing. Breathe (or don't) like that thing. If you're a lumbering giant, lumber. If you're a sleek cat, pounce. Fat ogres saunter. You get the picture. 

You can't act like a normal human because it will take the credibility away from the character you're creating. 

As you can tell, wearing a mo-cap suit is kind of like method acting. You always have to be in character and living in another reality. Check out the full video on mo-cap suits and acting from Insider here! 

What's next? What Does Each VFX Job Title Mean?

There's no denying the power of Avengers at the box office. It's a movie that continues to wow audiences and breaks records. It's sad that this one didn't have a post-credits scene, because a lot of people left the theater before reading the names of the people who worked late nights bringing this spectacle to the big screen. 

And even if they stayed, would we really be able to appreciate the nuance of each VFX position? 

Click the link to find out.      

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