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Dreamworks animator on the 'next generation' of film-making

Demian Gordon

Demian Gordon

Dreamworks animator Demian Gordon has a list of big movie credits as long as your arm. Known for his work on Watchmen, I am Legend and The Matrix Reloaded, his most recent credits include Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Oz the Great and Powerful.

So what drew him to offer his skills for free on a zero-budget project – a concept teaser for a proposed sci-fi epic, Leviathan – which is now being made into a full-scale feature film?

"The visual effects producer contacted me around last May," recalls Gordon. "He asked me if I knew anyone who could run their Xsens suit for the shoot. I volunteered to do it on my free time and we scheduled the shoot around that."

The reason? Respect for the director, Ruari Robinson (read our interview with Robinson here). "Personally, I love his past work and just wanted to be involved," Gordon explains.

"I believe Ruari is one of those 'next generation' directors who understand how to get the most out of technology while telling great stories. He's a talented artist as well as a talented director."

Mocap on a budget

Gordon took charge of motion capture on the project, in a very different way than he's used to working. "We shot the entire thing at the producer Ryan Stafford's house, over the course of one long day," he reveals.

The volunteer team builed a cockpit out of things they found around the house: "An office chair to sit in for the ship’s cockpit, with a C-Stand for a control yoke for the ship and an applebox to put the actors feet on."

The actor acted out all the 'piloting the ship' motion seated in the office chair. "We then went outside the house and in the back yard we shot all the standing, walking and jumping off the ship motion."

Xsens was used to capture the human motion and process the data, he adds. "I put the actor in the suit, ran the software to capture the data, and processed the data in post to deliver it to the animators."

Gordon took charge of mocap on all the shots involving humans

Gordon took charge of mocap on all the shots involving humans

"We shot and processed all the data in MVN Studio. We didn't do much more than run through the steps to refine the data and export it as is. The footplants were good enough to work without modification."

"I feel good about having played a small part in getting a little pitch project picked up to be made into a large scale feature film," he concludes. We can't wait to see the finished movie: stay tuned to Creative Bloq for further developments!

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Tom May
Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.