Jacquie Shriver has been casting some of PlayStation’s most popular games for more than seven years, drawing on her extensive expertise in voice and motion-capture casting.
What’s different about auditioning for motion capture?
Just standing on a mark and delivering lines or being very subtle with facial movements doesn’t really read as well with mo-cap. We need movement that can read in sensors, so it’s more of a theatrical audition than it is an on-camera audition.
How can actors prepare for a mo-cap audition?
Be prepared to mime and work completely within [your] imagination in the scene. Knowing just a little bit about [the game], like who the actors might be or if it has zombies in it or if it’s a shooting game, really helps us communicate. Asking questions also shows me that there’s interest in the project other than just coming in to get the part.
Sometimes we know exactly what the characters are supposed to be and we spend a lot of time looking for the right person, and other times we don’t know that much about the character and we’re relying on our talented actors to show us the way. I love seeing the character come to life and finding new aspects when an actor can embody it in just the right way.
Are you looking for any special skills on actors’ résumés?
An awful lot of video games require weapons handling, so I love seeing that. I like seeing some sort of voiceover on their résumé because even though motion capture is a lot more like theater, we do require our actors to be able to do voiceover quickly and efficiently.
What’s the audition process like? Do you cast from demos?
I need an on-camera demo and I need to know your height, because motion capture frequently has a lot of height restrictions based on the models we create on the back end. Your on-camera demo gives me the best idea of how you’re going to move. We usually actually hold [auditions] on the mo-cap stage, so we can see how people interact with a complete lack of anything to interact with. We’ll also probably do some isolated voiceover stuff. We also end up doing a few mechanical things on camera…having them walk, jog, and sometimes just walk with a weapon in their hands.
Is there anything that’s unique about the way the schedule works?
We’ll often shoot for a few days, two to five days, one time per month, over the course of about nine months. There are other projects that condense the schedule down if they’ve got everything figured out—they can shoot the entirety of the project over the course of like three weeks all at once—but that’s pretty rare. When we’re doing a mo-cap project, if it’s a main part, there’s probably going to be anywhere from 10 to 20 days of mo-cap shooting, but it could be spread over the course of a year.