XR Stories unlocks creative practice for motion-capture performers

A new XR Stories research project is exploring creative practice using motion-capture (mo-cap) to provide training for actors and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). 

The project is investigating what acting techniques and approaches are most effective for communicating the emotional content of material during mo-cap performance, something that can be very difficult for actors to convey. 

Widely used in video games and film production, mo-cap has recently begun to be used as part of live theatrical performances but the process remains a relatively new specialism for actors. 

Existing guidance and training tends to focus on the technology, rather than acting or performance, and little research exists about mo-cap as a performance technique or a teaching method.

In unlocking the secrets of creative practice for actors working with motion-capture, XR Stories aims to bring training and talent into the process in a more effective way.

XR Stories Research Fellow, David Gochfeld, worked with professional movement actor Maggie Bain, and director, Ruth Mariner, to test different acting and movement techniques using a range of avatars and a selection of dramatic material. The group were also joined by professional actors, Matthew Lewney and Michelle Bayly.

Using XR Stories’ cutting-edge facilities, the project team examined what movement qualities, visual features and rigging techniques will unlock a greater range of expression. The team also explored how different acting and embodiment techniques for performance capture affect emotional engagement with 3D animated characters.

David Gochfeld comments: “Having a dedicated space in the North of England to explore different acting and embodiment techniques for performance capture is of immense value to both creative practice and the local economy because we can pass on our findings to SMEs and practitioners in the region. ” 

The project aims to help actors learn how to work with motion capture technology, and in parallel, will help businesses to understand how to produce better motion capture performances by effectively engaging with actors. 

The research team plans to share their findings at workshops for SMEs and creative practitioners at institutions across the Yorkshire and Humber region, including the University of York. Researchers will also develop training and guidance materials to accompany the workshops.

The project is funded by the Screen Industries Growth Network (SIGN).

Published on 6 December 2022

Filed under: XR Stories