If you have read any of my other motion capture and performance capture posts, you will know I LOVE this area of the industry, it is one of my favourites and it is one of the most fun areas too! I loved the idea of being represented explicitly for motion capture and performance capture, and from the moment I heard of The Mocap Agency, I wanted to get involved. The Mocap Agency was birthed by Emily Dean, who is also the agent for Voice Fox (my agent). This agency was geared to go in early 2020, and the pandemic happened! But Emily persevered to make it what it is today and boy is it paying off! – As a side note, when unexpected trials happen, such as pandemics, don’t give up! So, how does an actor and voiceover artist get in with The Mocap Agency?
Recognising That it’s All Just Performance
It’s all just performance, guys! It’s all acting! I have a background in theatre, and after trying my best to break into the acting world fresh from my BA Hons in Acting, I soon discovered I had to pull my socks up and learn the industry’s business side. As a business, you are constantly growing and evolving, which is essential too. But to fund, grow and develop my acting business, I discovered voiceover, which fundamentally became my full-time focus and liberated me from a place of being employed to being self-employed. But what about all that great theatrical training? Well, the voiceover skills I built, the acting skills I studied, and the theatrical elements I trained under all set an excellent foundation for good motion capture and performance capture performer.
Dealing With Setbacks
So for me, I happily approached Emily regarding representation in this area, though very much ignorant of what I needed to elevate above the foundation perspective I shared above and propel myself into the competitive circle. Truth be told, there are thousands of actors who had the experience I had, so I had to do something different and showcase a unique element of my skills, almost how other businesses pride themselves on their Unique Selling Point (or USP), I too needed to find my ‘USP’ to showcase.
Finding Opportunities to Work with the Mocap Agency
Fortunately, one of my clients was keen on having The Mocap Agency featured in their magazine, and as Emily was my agent, I was the one who was able to interview her. As I was interviewing Emily about The Mocap Agency, I learnt very quickly that I needed more tools under my belt. As my voice agent, I could ask Emily for feedback too, but the article was enough for anyone to understand what they needed to get into motion capture. So, what do you need? – well, fundamentally, you need two things to start you off.
The first is training! Take a mocap course, get familiar with a T pose, an A pose, and a tight sweaty suit, and learn the terminology and setup. Ask about how the markers and cameras work. Reading this, do you know what a volume is? And no, I am not referring to the audio levels blasting from your speakers. What about a ROM? (Range of Movement). You will learn these introductory elements from some motion capture training courses. Target 3D in the UK does a phenomenal 2-day introductory course that is second to none. I know the desire is just to act and want to book the prominent characters, but there must be an understanding technically to work in performance capture too. Shoots are so fast, and deadlines are so tight that there isn’t always time to instruct people on the job.
The second thing you need is skills! A skill will give you that nice USP to a potential client. The ability to yield a sword, fire a gun, ride a horse, juggle, move on a unicycle, or just about anything and everything else you can imagine are great skills. If they need this for a performance capture job and you have that ability, you are miles ahead of your competition.
Voice Actors Pioneering in Motion Capture
So, my story is I left that conversation and the interview with Emily, and I realised I needed to gain some skills. I had already taken courses and understood motion capture, but I did not have much in the way of a unique selling point. So, I learnt to fire four guns, wield a staff and a light sabra, and did basic horse riding. I think horse riding needs more work as there are many programs, but the basics are there, and it’s a journey that I enjoy. Like with most things, practising helps to push these things forward progressively and powerfully. With the guns, I run through my mind the routines regularly, but I remember the weight and the recoil, which helps with performance. Finally, for the light saber and staff, this is something I can simply just practise in the garden. But the keyword I just used applies to everything I suggested above; practise. We must keep practising our skills and our craft to stay sharp. Pay to ride a horse for an hour or visit a shooting range, and buy your own props like staffs and swords so you can rehearse and learn routines. Practise! Practise practise practise!
Booking With the Mocap Agency
At the end of this journey, when I had made a performance demo, I was taken on by The Mocap Agency, got my first audition, and booked a job which was a full performance capture role on UK TV. It is important I continue to learn and practise in this area whilst I attempt to hustle roles. But the final thing is we must think about our material. Actors have showreels, and voice actors have demos, but what do mocap actors have? Well, a skills reel for sure, but if you can get mirroring footage of you in the suits performing against the animated characters on the screen, you should! Seeing it will make you up your game, and acquiring the footage shows you have been hustling away in this area. Combining skills and performance together into a demo will produce a strong marketing tool for your business in this field.