Johnny Neal

Actor, Writer

It's My First Day!!! (Of Motion Capture)

Whenever we embark on a quest into unexplored territory, particularly in our careers, it's very easy to feel both lost and terrified of screwing up! You run the day through your mind and picture yourself looking lost and confused at the slightest question or command from those you are working with/for. Images of exhasperated co-workers run through your mind, as you prepare for the fact that at the end of it all, you might look like a bit of a berk. Especially when you're voice begins to grow reedy from your flagrant overuse of The Homer Defence (If you don't know what I'm talking about go back and watch some classic Simpsons, and if you don't like the Simpsons then, well I dunno what to tel yah). Yes with each time they look at you with exhaustion in their eyes you have had your retort up and ready to move:


"It's my first day." 

You proclaim with vigour, a steady belief in the fact that within time you will be a master of the new skill/role you have persued backing up each word. However through the course of the day, and each time you repeat your magical mantra of credible ignorance it's potency and meaning becomes less and less. Until bye the end your ego is shattered and you go home wondering what the hell you were thinking looking to try something new!

Well that got out of hand quickly! But I feel fairly sure that most people have at least a tickle of this kind of scenario playing out in the part of our brains that I am certain was put there as a cruel joke. You know it well, I call it the Umadubla Oblong-Bastard. 

Thankfully this was not a true representation of my first day working in Motion Capture at the world renowned Imaginarium studio (yes I am blowing a little smoke up my own arse but I think once in a while we are entitled to). Although being perfectly honest, and even though motion capture is an area of the business I have wanted to work in for some time, the ghost of apprehension was hovering over me somewhat, as I knew little of what was expected of me.


So I make it to the Imaginarium, the studio famous for being run by the one true God of motion capture performance Andy Serkis, and having been responsible for the shooting and digital rendering of movies such as the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, it's safe to say the nerves were a little fractious. I got in and was changed into not one, but two, yes two, different kinds of MO-CAP suits - I was referring to them like this all day to maintain the visage of competence - and I can most assuredly say that I have been more comfortable, in fact if Mr Serkis were to demonstrate the discomfort of a MO-CAP suit - there I go again - the Academy would be a lot more welcoming in regards to his nominations.

The day was however a major eye opener, and not just because I found out how enjoyable it can be to watch my movements, specifically a certain Bee Gees inspired dance, mimicked on by a computer generated monkey. It might sound ridiculous but motion capture technology is REALLY complicated, of course it is, duh, but actually speaking to the engineers and finding out exactly what it is the computers were doing as i paraded around, laughing like a moron at the chimp with all the moves, was truly fascinating.

Thankfully the day went off without a hitch. The tech fellows got all they needed from me, and as an added bonus I learned a lot more about how it all works, and what I can do to improve and performances I might give in the future, they were even kind enough to shoot the above video of me dicking around in the suit! All in all I can say I look forward to the next time I get to work with the wizards of the Imaginarium... But I may buy some more comfortable underwear.

Till next time!

Johnny x