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Andy Serkis: Performance Capture to Sit at the ‘Epicenter’ of Video Games

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier

Performance capture is now at the ‘epicenter’ of video games, according to Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier’s creator Andy Serkis.

Speaking as part of a developer session at EGX 2017 in Birmingham, the experienced actor and co-founder of Imaginarium Studios spoke about the importance of motion capture technology in the gaming industry, as well as its increasing accessibility.

The Lord of the Rings (Gollum) and Planet of the Apes (Caesar) actor said: “In the past, performance capture has been used mostly in tentpole movies – big blockbuster movies – as an expensive piece of kit.

“But now, it can be brought to TV series, and also bring real emotional performances to video games. And especially today, as we are also starting to see the rise of VR, performance capture – or motion capture – sits at the epicentre of all of these different types of expression.”

The 53-year-old added that performance capture remains an underappreciated art, but one that is irreplaceable.

“People think that [the performance] isn’t created by the actor, that it’s augmented in the post-production process… that it’s sort of a drug-assisted sport! The creation of the role is entirely down to the actor – the director then uses that performance in the edit.

“You don’t move away from what the actor has done today but you’re able to translate that expression onto the face of a different avatar. The film, or game, can live or die by those performances.”

The 53-year-old appeared at the gaming expo to demo his studio’s upcoming interactive adventure game Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier and take part in a Q&A session with the assembled audience.

Serkis, who also appeared as Supreme Leader Snoke in the Star Wars franchise, spoke at length about immersive, interactive storytelling. He said: “We [at Imaginarium] are fascinated with the notion of next-gen storytelling… how will we receive stories in ten, 20 or 30 years’ time? It feels like we’re moving towards an era of storytelling that you are very much a part of.

“We might find ourselves in a cross between a piece of theatre, slash cinema, slash game that you are not only watching but taking part in. You are so immersed in it, but it’s great – and well-edited – storytelling that you’re being led through.”

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