CAREER IN MOTION
Jennifer Mcspadden shares her advice for artists that fancy a future in motion capture and virtual production
Can you tell us how your career in motion capture got started?
I grew up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. In high school I took broadcast journalism classes and decided that I wanted to work in the film industry. I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design, studying film as an undergrad student and visual effects as a graduate student. I took my motion capture courses at SCAD, and upon graduating, I started working at Giant/profile Studios. Eventually, I was able to be on a live set. My first foray was in Brisbane, Australia, on the set of Thor: Ragnarok.
What advice would you give to those looking to get started with motion capture?
While not absolutely required, a foundational understanding of 3D animation and character rigging is very helpful for motion capture, especially when focusing on a job in postproduction. If you want to work on stage, then I would suggest trying to get a job on stage in just about any capacity. It’s important to understand what it is like to be a crewperson, to understand pace, hierarchy, and general decorum. Then, you can seek a position within the visual effects department, and then find yourself on a virtual production or motion capture team.
What qualities, skills and abilities are essential to a motion capture supervisor?
Communication is key! Not every client is well-versed in the motion capture process, so you have to be able to find a way to explain complicated technical procedures in easyto-follow terminology. You also have to be able to think on your feet and react quickly to challenges on the stage, offering clear and succinct directives to your team. Patience and flexibility are also requirements. There are often multiple ways to arrive at the same conclusion, and sometimes the best solution isn’t always the easiest.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
In my field, the potential for creative problemsolving is ever-evolving. Each client, show and stage is unique, presenting different requests, considerations, and shooting conditions that need to be addressed. As a supervisor, I work closely with the client as well as with the crew. I enjoy the payoff of being able to communicate the client’s needs to the crew, aiding the crew in the execution of those needs, and celebrating with the client when the crew is successful.