performance animation 21st Century Actors Must Own Digital Versions of Themselves OPINION by Nancy Fulton, Writer/Producer
here’s a seismic shift underway in the entertainment industry that will present major opportunities and major challenges for many actors. The Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings franchises introduced us all to ﬁlms shot on digital sets, using digital characters, with special FX. We saw very talented performers take on roles like Gollum and Smaug to create non-human characters as compelling as any we have ever scene in a movie. More recently, in Alita, we saw actress Rosa Salazar play a digital character physically modeled after her own body with larger eyes and bionic components. In eﬀect she played an enhanced version of herself. What is not clear to many actors, because they aren’t working on the technology that powers these ﬁlms, is that actors are now routinely being digitally scanned to create 3D doubles to be used in FX shots
and sometimes, somewhat horriﬁcally, to play them in franchise ﬁlms if they happen to die before their time in a ﬁlm, or ﬁlm franchise, is done. We all wonder how often Carrie Fisher’s avatar will appear in future Star Wars ﬁlms, and which actress will be hired to wear her skin to reprise that role. What many actors also need to know is that 3D production technologies are moving into the independendent Film / TV world at incredible speed. I work with a company, Mobile Motion Mocap in Burbank, that can put live actors on green screen, digital characters, digital doubles, and special eﬀects into full 3D environments to render broadcast quality or 4K+ content in real time. Scanning actors is relatively cheap and easy, and it allows productions to make FX cost less, put exactly the character they need on screen, and gives them assets they can use at will in sequels, prequels, and related ﬁlms. It will come as no surprise that actors in franchise ﬁlms
who refused to be digitally scanned subsequently ﬁnd themselves without the awardwinning roles they want. This hard choice will face almost all actors in the next ﬁve years. With all this in mind, up and coming actors need to understand how to beneﬁt from new technologies.
e aware that if you are digitally scanned, it will often be done more than once. You will be captured “in character” which means in makeup and costume also in a “nude suit” as yourself. Your agent should ensure you are compensated appropriately when your avatar is used by a given franchise as a double, and the compensation should go up if your avatar is used out of character or in another ﬁlm or project that you aren’t featured in as a performer. As you become more successful, consider paying to have yourself digitally scanned every three to ﬁve years so you can continued on next page
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