Aaron: Can you explain what MoCap is, and what you enjoy about it?
Walt: Mocap is short for “motion capture”. There's some folks that prefer to go with the term “performance capture”. I think both are valid. It's performers running around in those silly tight-looking scuba suits with markers all over their bodies –sometimes now suits without markers– to shoot and capture their motion through computers on a soundstage. If it’s big AAA production, they want to get all their VO done at the same time, also with audio and sometimes HMCs (the head mounted cameras), and capture the face-motion all at once. Naughty Dog's great example of doing everything –for the cinematics especially– all together. And that's motion capture in a nutshell, being in a suit on a stage and doing whatever the animator or the director, or both, needs on any given shoot. I love it because it’s theatre, it's theatre-in-the-round. You get to engage your imagination the most as an actor, other than in the booth, and it's freeing and wonderful and too much fun.
A: Many of our students, since we’re a voice over school, focus primarily on voice acting and have never done self-tape auditions before, so can you describe the basics of what that looks like for our audience?
W: Well yeah, for those that have just never been asked to audition with a self-tape or want to know more about how that process goes, it can be very simple and it can become very complex depending on what you need or what you want to do with your auditions. An on camera audition is just exactly what it sounds like. The ones from MoCap should be no different, usually, than the ones for film and television. It's you putting yourself on film so that the casting director and the powers-that-be can see what you do with the sides, with lines they give you. Not much different from a voice over audition, except this time we have to see you, we have to see your face. They want to see what you look like, they want to see physically how you move. They might ask for a full-body shot, they might ask to see a bit of movement, to vault over something depending on the game, if it’s a big action game you're going out for the lead. There are differences and we would cover that in the class and what that might be, but it’s barebones: it's a camera, it’s the actor, and whatever sides the client might have given you that you have hopefully memorized and are ready to record and do as you would on the day. It could also become a little scary at times depending on how worried we are about how it looks at the end of it, and that's what the class would touch on, as well as kind of easing everyone's stress a little bit about the process. One of the pros of self tapes is you get to do it as many times as you want.
A: Can you tell us what you're going to be covering in class?
W: We will be analyzing sides, so everyone gets sides for an audition. For the purpose of our class, it would be a television show that's already out, so there's no worries about NDAs (Non-disclosure agreements) there. I'm using a television show because the writing is good, but also it's grounded, it’s simple. I'm not requiring anybody in the class to get up and run around and do a movement audition. We’ll certainly talk about it, but the main focus is going to be connecting with this medium, with the camera, understanding that the camera is present and then forgetting about it. Knowing that you're playing to the camera while you're working with your reader, or that certain moments that you might want to convey might look a little too big on camera, especially if you’re used to theater training. The faces you might make in the booth while you make certain noises or certain characters might look a little weird, or might work depending on the character. We would focus on framing your scene. I'm mainly going to be focusing on technique and what works for each individual student. Another hope for the class is that each individual student is able to share their trepidations and be like, “Hey, I've never done this before, where do I start?” Great! And some other people said, “I've submitted a lot of on camera stuff, I'm just not booking it. Should I do something differently?” We'll talk about wardrobe, what you should wear, what you shouldn't wear, what's appropriate for the character, what's too much, what's not enough. That's going to depend on the individual actor, or the student in this case. It's going to depend on the client. Everyone's different. The overall idea is every audition, no matter if it's voice over only, on-camera, theater in-person, or in a casting directors office for a television show or a film, every audition is an opportunity to play, and that is going to be a big part of the class. Hopefully the feeling with all the students is we get to play, otherwise what's the point if we’re not having fun, right?
A: For voice actors these days, how important do you think knowing how to self-tape for MoCap is for your career?
W: I think it’s just as important, to me, as knowing how to cold read. It's just another technique that I think every actor should have, to get comfortable, –like in voice over, listening to yourself, listening to your playback– you should be comfortable looking at yourself and not go, “It’s the New Year, maybe I should have a resolution to lose some of that holiday weight.” Because that's not what we're focusing on, we’re focusing on the work. Do the lines make sense? Are you connecting to what you're saying? Is this a character that's believable? And to find that groundedness and that believability, especially for video game that's not based in reality, or a fantasy game, because the more believable your read is, even if it might not be appropriate for the part or for the the game, the casting director can go, “Their connected, I'm seeing the work. Also, they seem like a good person to work with.”
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