The real-time motion capture behind ‘Hellblade’


In a makeshift changing room filled with Disney Infinity figures, I strip down to my boxers and pull on a two-part Lycra suit. It feels tight, and the top half shimmies up toward my waistline as soon as I stretch or stand up straight. How anyone is able to act in this thing is a mystery to me. Sheepishly, I gather my belongings and trot back to the motion capture studio that sits at the end of Ninja Theory's offices in Cambridge, England. Inside, a couple of engineers scurry about, prepping cameras and cables.

For years, movie and video game studios have used mocap to bring digital characters to life. From detective Cole Phelps in L.A. Noire to the powerful Caesar in Planet of the Apes, the technology has delivered some truly moving, actor-driven performances. Normally, however, motion capture scenes are processed by an animator hours, days or weeks after they've been captured on set. It's a time-consuming process, and one that involves some guesswork. In a sparse, lifeless room, directors are forced to imagine how a take will look in the final sequence.

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