Stuntman, Actor, Action Designer, SAG-AFTRA
At Festigame Coca Cola 2018, we were able to interview Eric Jacobus briefly, Kratos’ double of action in the new God Of War game. We asked him some questions related to his work and what it means to be double action, and this is what he answered.
Nerdmacia : Being double action must be a very fun job. How was it that you became one?
Eric: Uff is a long story, but very nostalgic for me. It happens that I grew up in the era in which feature films were at their peak (mid 80’s and part of 90’s), and I have fond memories of having seen very good shows on MTV and other interesting movies. I remember that I began to imitate everything they did, the pirouettes and other things. That was on my side, but in Hong Kong I had some friends who made action movies at a low price, so we finally decided to get together and started making independent films in the patio of our house. Over time we had the attention of several people for what we did, and then in the 2000’s Youtube was born, a platform that allows you to upload content for free. So I made my channel, and I started uploading the content that we generated in that place, and that was when the bomb exploded. They began to see us from many parts of the world, not only people, but also important companies. So the work began to viralize and began to have more attention, and the next thing I knew was that I was already working as a full-time action double. So eventually I came to Sony to work on the new God Of War.
Nerdmacia : Could you tell us about your experience of working in a video game?
Eric : It’s very different to work in a videogame than in a movie. I thought I was going to do more things than I actually did, but it turns out that in a video game you only do twice as much as a 3D model, it’s not that you’re really participating. In addition Kratos is played by 2 different people, on the one hand is Christopher Judge, who is the one who lends his voice and movements in general, and then I am double acting. So yes, it’s very different. In this game it only required, to give you an example, of about 8 hours working out every day, which is very exhausting, whereas in a movie it is much easier to divide the times, and it is a lighter process in the long run.
Nerdmacia : Working in videogames and traveling through fantastic worlds should be a truly unique experience. What was the first video game you worked on and how was the experience of seeing yourself in a world that does not exist?
Eric : The first video game I worked for was Mafia III from the 2K company, since fortunately I had a friend who was involved in the production and I lived a few blocks away from him at that time. Then he contacted me mainly because they needed a guy who accepted all kinds of beating haha, that is, stabbing, kicking, shooting, so my first job was capture movement and I remember being days and days and days in that and had to recreate falls and different types of pirouettes that in the movies is very rare to see, and not only for one person, but for several at the same time. In the game we see children falling, old people falling, women falling, then I had to, as I say, receive all kinds of beatings haha. It was very funny because I ended up being the laughingstock of everyone, but finally that is what led me to success. The truth is ironic.
Nerdmacia : How long does it take you to make a scene on average?
Eric: Again, it’s a totally different process in video games and movies. In a movie, a scene of fights takes a lot of minutes to shoot and if it does not go well you have to do it again and so on until someone says “I liked it” and then it’s cut and that’s what’s left. In a game like Mafia III or God Of War there are several cameras and with different angles each, then they are not even minutes. You simply do a pirouette and say “cut” and then do another and “cut” again. And in the end all those divided shots unite them, and the whole sequence appears. In movies it is longer, but by not being divided, you get to enjoy the process much more. But that’s what it’s about being double, of putting all your energy into what you do, whether it’s a lot or a little.
Nerdmacia: In an interview that we did earlier you mentioned that you had a very serious experience with one of your knees. How was that and what health measures are taken to ensure that nothing happens with the production?
Eric: Oh yes, my knee. It happened that right in the recordings of God Of War I fell badly in one of the many pirouettes, and I began to have a very sharp pain in one of my knees. I did the work, but obviously many people in production realized that I was limping, so one of them, Carlos, comes up to me and says “Hey … how’s your knee?”. Of course nobody wanted to stop the production but Carlos told me that, if necessary, we would stop it if my pain continued. The pain continued, but Carlos was very kind to me, almost an angel … he gave me some medicines and advice so that it would not happen again, and in fact he helped me a lot in those scenes so that he did not have to suffer so much. Finally the pain healed thanks to his advice and I have not had a bad experience like that again. But of course, at the time it was very scary.
In light of his performing stunts for Kratos in Sony’s 2018 hit God of War, Eric Jacobus was invited to participate at FestiGame in Santiago, Chile in early August. Jacobus was first asked to give a stunt demonstration and motivational talk, but then he saw the numbers: over 40,000 video game fans from all over Latin America would attend FestiGame, and he had a stage to work with. So he quickly brought together some teams to do something that’s never been done before: a motion capture stunt show starring a live video game character.
Jacobus knew that the right tool for the job would be Xsens MVN, a marker-less motion capture system that utilizes sensors and can be utilized anywhere without the optical cameras one requires in a Vicon or OptiTrack system. He originally saw the Xsens suit at E3 in 2017, and now he knew how to apply it. All he needed was a character to embody in the live show, and he discovered that the upcoming Chilean fighting game Omen of Sorrow would be at FestiGame. The show coordinator contacted AOne Games, and they agreed to let Jacobus use their Dr. Hyde character.
Chris Adamsen of Xsens rigged the Dr. Hyde character in Unity, and using an Xsens plugin streamed Jacobus’s movements in the Xsens suit directly into Unity and manipulate the Dr. Hyde model. The result was a stunt demonstration in which Jacobus brought a video game character to life in front of a live audience. (Video shot by Zac Swartout)
Jacobus plans to bring live motion capture stunt shows to other venues and hopes to portray other video game characters in the near future. If this is of interest for your show or if your video game character is a good fit, perhaps you can both make it happen.
Eric Jacobus is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric Jacobus is back with another entry in his Tekken In Real Life series, this time with Akuma from Tekken 7. Jacobus recently took a short break from producing the series while moving his studio again, but now that he’s settled in, the raging demon could be unleashed.
Jacobus writes in the video’s description:
Akuma’s moves are the result of doing Karate in sandals for a thousand years. His stance is totally grounded, as if his toes are gripping the ground. Everything is heavy-handed and Karate-based, except for some of his impossible airborne attacks. Nonetheless, if you find yourself in a street fight and you’re wearing flip flops, don’t try to fight like Akuma.
EntZone: How long did it take you to get accustom to playing a blind man? What, if any, specific training did you go through to achieve such a realist look and feel to the character of Walter Cooke? When you were ‘in character, did you find yourself being treated differently by others around you?
Eric Jacobus: … People are also totally off their base when interacting with the blind because the blind don’t play by the same cultural rules as the sighted, so it throws the sighted into confusion. We start wondering why we chose the shirt we wore today, or why we’re attracted to the women we’re with. That’s the beauty of the Zatoichi films. He throws everyone off base because they’re suddenly in the presence of a man who lives on the periphery of culture, where we lose sight of what’s fashionable and begin facing hard truths. Why do I want that car? Why do I care what color my shoes are? Real-life Walter lived by these hard truths and rattled off a litany of rules he followed for every situation. It stopped being about coveting the goods others have or lusting after women we otherwise wouldn’t care about and became much more grounded.
Read the whole interview here: https://entzone.blog/2018/07/03/exclusive-interview-with-eric-jacobus-of-blindsided-the-game/. Many thanks to Entertainment Zone for the opportunity.
DMR: Talk about rehearsing the various fights: what are some of the new techniques and action you learned along the way?
EJ: We start with the story. Walter has a sword, these guys have guns. You can’t make a long, intricate fight when it’s a sword versus a gun. We could do “gun-fu” or flail the sword around for five minutes like a Rurouni Kenshin fight scene, but that would only service our egos as stuntmen. You lose people with that mindset, so as stuntmen who are creating from the ground up we have to pull back and ask, “What’s the story here? What are the key moments to capitalize on?” Takeshi Kitano made memorable fight scenes out of a single move – jamming the hammer on a revolver with his thumb, or putting a bullet in a guy’s mouth and socking him. This is smart film-making, so we start there. The choreography falls into place effortlessly then.
Read the full interview here. Thank you Danny Templegod for the opportunity.
Be sure to check out Blindsided: The Game on YouTube here.
Read the article here (in Spanish): http://www.lacuarta.com/noticia/festigame-2018-actor-videojuego/
As somebody who has now put together several films of your own, who have been your greatest creative inspirations? Who are your favorite directors or writers?
Aside from the Vaudeville and Hong Kong masters, I love the simplicity of the 80s genre film. We all love directors like John Carpenter. We love the movers of this era because good was good and evil was evil. There was no gray. … Clayton always told me, “Story, story, story,” and story must be built on truth, and truth is black and white, not grey. One needs a foundational rock to build from there, but that rock’s been cast out in favor of relativism and “personal truths”. But the audience likes Blindsided: The Game’s simplicity because we never succumb to this relativism. Walter might wear grey, but that’s his diversion. He 100% on the side of good.
Read the whole interview here: http://themovieelite.com/63635-2/