Motion capture blurs line between video games, films.
Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor
Reuben Langdon has a most unusual profession: He’s a human marionette.
Part acrobat, part martial artist, Langdon is one of the world’s top motion-capture actors. For years, video-game- makers have filmed the performer’s choreographed actions in a suit dotted with sensors and then mapped them on a computer to create iconic characters such as Ken in “Street Fighter IV” and Dante in “Devil May Cry.” The latter, which Langdon also voices, even has its own buff action figure. “They did model the six-pack after my six-pack,” jokes the actor.
Now it’s Langdon’s turn to pull the strings. The versatile thespian is not only crossing over into cinema – he was hired as a performance-capture actor for James Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar” – but his production company, Just Cause, is employing cutting-edge cameras used in 3-D movies to bring a more cinematic feel to video games.
“What Just Cause is doing is really a sign of the times in the cross integration of interactive entertainment in gaming with big-budget movies,” says Scott Lowe, gear editor at IGN.com, a website devoted to multimedia and gaming. “Both mediums seem to be benefiting from that kind of cross integration.”
“Avatar,” a 3-D space opera set on a planet straight off a Yes album cover, is Cameron’s ambitious attempt to smudge the line between live action and realistic animation by adapting video-game technology. To that end, Cameron affixed a camera to each actor’s head so that animators could capture each minute detail of an expression, right down to a tongue twitch.
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