In our recent Q&A with Animatrik's Post Production Supervisor, Sara Cameron, we learned a little bit more about motion capture and Sara's recent work on Gears of War 4 and Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
PH: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? (background, where you grew up)
Cameron: I’m was born and raised in the Vancouver area and grew up in the same house my entire life. I’ve always had pets, with animals playing a big role in my life. National geographic was the nightly dinner entertainment for my family.
PH: How did you get involved in the mo-cap industry?
Cameron: I was a crazy horse obsessed girl growing up, and I began drawing them all the time. I ended up being quite good at drawing as a result and followed an art path through school. Eventually, I discovered going into animation would let me retain my creativity and enjoy a progressive type of career. I initially wanted to animate, and I was focused on working for EA since it was such a large company. I thought it would provide me with good training and experience. After applying six times, they finally hired me in their mo-cap department. I thought I would just get a foot in the door and then go off to an animator’s position, but I fell in love with mocap instead.
PH: What are some of the projects you are most proud to have worked on?
Cameron: Gears of War Ultimate and Gears of War 4. Animatrik was smaller when we started working with Microsoft for their Gears of War projects. Even though we knew we were up to the task of producing all of the game’s motion capture, we needed to convince Microsoft. We really pulled together as a team to put our best face forward from the tech side to the kitchen renovations. That project led the way for our studio to step up to the next level and we made so many great friends through it along the way.
Warcraft was a huge challenge for me in a supervisor role as we needed to rapidly grow our team from under 20 people to more than 40. They needed training, seats, licenses and so many additional things all at once. It was another huge learning and growing experience for me that I am extremely thankful for.
PH: What does your day-to-day work at Animatrik look like?
Cameron: I would describe it as a kaleidoscope; a lot people, projects, and clients all needing attention at the same time … but then it ends up kind of awesome when I step back and look at the big picture.
PH: Have you jumped into the mo-cap suits? What is the most interesting creature/person you have been transformed into?
Cameron: Yes I have...it’s been a while though, I try it out on occasion so I can stay on top of how the talent are feeling to see if there are any improvements we can make. I wish I had some impressive creature to tell you I was, but mostly I play the non-glamorous role of ‘generic female’.
PH: What is the most challenging project you have worked on at Animatrik?
Cameron: Expanding a team from 20 to 40 for Warcraft was a new learning experience for me, but on a broader scale, it is more challenging to work with television and movie projects due to the complexity and multitude of moving parts and people involved. Games are much more straightforward since they are so heavily reliant on tech, they either work, or they don’t; most digital assets and tech requirements are well tested before the game teams even get to the motion capture recording phase. I’ve found pushing through these challenges usually results in a bigger accomplishment!
PH: What changes do you see coming to performance capture in the future?
Cameron: We’re already streaming motion capture live as we record data on set. Going forward, this real time output will be getting stronger and cleaner to the point where the very little post work is not necessary at all. Facial motion capture, and fingers will all be part of the recording, and visual effects such as lighting and shadows will be added in so essentially the look of the live recording is as good as the final product.
PH: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
Cameron: Much of my time is spent in front of a computer, so being outdoors is really important. Playing with my dogs, riding horses and gardening are my favorite things to do. It helps to silence my mind and ponder the important things in life. On the other hand though, Vegas is one of my favorite places to travel, and to not talk about what happens there.