Available Deaths

I once wrote the script for a military sci-fi computer game, only to find that the producers had put dancers in the motion-capture suits. All the soldiers marched like ballerinas. Easier on the eye in the studio, perhaps, less fun in the finished product.

Ed Hooks wouldn’t let such things happen. He teaches acting to animators so that their drawings look more real, and their motion captures look more believeable.

“No-one,” he says, “has worked out a way of putting motion capture markers on human eyeballs.” But it would be fun to try, right?

Hooks goes back to work, checking the proofs for his latest book, a guide to acting in animation that includes chapters on Grave of the Fireflies and Spirited Away. He’s a delegate at the Swansea Animation Days (www.sand.org.uk), the highlight of the year for anyone who wants a career in animation. Featuring speakers from all over the business, from effects technicians to producers, Swansea is the place to catch premieres ahead of the crowd, and to get a look behind the scenes of the cartoon world ? I see Hugh David from ADV Films unloading copies of the company’s newest titles for the cinema showings, and Shelley Page from Dreamworks trying, very subtly, to ask Back to Gaia director Lenard Krawinkel if he wants a job.

“We get show-reels,” says a games producer, “of racing cars, and moving figures, and animals and all kind of stuff, but the thing that occupies us for most of the time is finding new ways of bumping people off in shoot-em-ups. Ways of falling, ways of dying, ways of taking a bullet or a punch. If anyone came up with a show reel of available deaths, we’d probably hire them on the spot.”

“You know,” I begin, “there’s this show called Fist of the North Star…”

(From NEO #5, 2005)

5 thoughts on “Available Deaths

  1. “But as [Fist of the North Star] wore on, drastic budget cuts forced the animators to improvise, sometimes with mind-boggling results. The crew constantly found creative new ways to dispatch villains, such as smearing wet paint on a cel between two pieces of glass, or shooting in real time through the churning waters of a half-empty fish tank.” Anime Encyclopedia, Revised and Expanded edition, p.198.

    Although Martin has identified the ultimate way to kill someone with Fist of the North Star, by simply making them sit through it.

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