Eric Jacobus (God of War, Mafia III) is taking what he’s learned from his work as a motion capture performer in triple-A videogame titles and applying it to the indie film and game development world. Only days after utilizing motion capture to embody an Omen of Sorrow character for a live stunt show at Santiago’s FestiGame, Jacobus used the same Xsens marker-less motion capture system to record himself kicking as a robot in a 3D environment. Normally a fight scene requires at least two performers, but Jacobus took it upon himself to record both sides of the fight scene. He then created a 3D geography within Unity and played the animations against one another, simulating a fight scene between two actors. A small behind-the-scenes look at Jacobus’s process can be seen at the end of the video.

Jacobus says he’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible now that he’s able to easily execute action choreography within a motion capture system.

Nerdmacia recently interviewed Eric Jacobus at FestiGame in Santiago, Chile about his work as a stuntman in God of War. Below is the Google translation of the original interview.

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 theericjacobus@gmail.com.

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.

I had the insane privilege of working on Santa Monica Studio’s monumental Playstation 4 game God of War doing motion capture for Kratos, and the team put together this interview about how we approached Kratos’ combat in the game.

Eric Jacobus as motion capture stuntman for Kratos in God of War

[T]hey didn’t exactly hire a UFC fighter to do the motion capture for Kratos. Instead, they turned to a YouTuber who had been, for fun, making videos where he recreates moves from fighting video games – Eric Jacobus.

Bruno Velasquez, the game’s principal animator, had seen Jacobus on YouTube years back, saw him recreating moves from Street Fighter and Tekken, and said, “That guy needs to be our Kratos. Like he’s Kratos. Look at his moves. Look at how he’s flying and doing Superman punches!”

So they pretty much just sent the guy a message on YouTube …

While the actor Chris Judge plays the voice of Kratos and does all the cinematics, it’s Jacobus’ moves you’ll see doing the occasional chokehold and unleashing a fury of fists on one of the game’s unlucky foes.

Rappler (March 19, 2018)

Eric Jacobus motion capture audition video for Kratos, God of War

I was working on the Tekken In Real Life series when Santa Monica Studio, the team behind God of War, called and asked me to audition for the Kratos role. I proposed making a move list for them, and after tinkering some more in my garage I made a 6-minute reel for the character, like the IRL videos. They called me down to the studio and I started work soon after.

And thank God, because Santa Monica Studio saved this dad and his family when we were at a real low point. As a father on the brink of failure, I channeled that frustration and swung that ax for 8 hours a day as hard as I could, dropped on my neck as many times as they wanted, and climbed and kicked and punched non-stop, and I’d have done it 8 hours more. I got to work with top-level video game directors like Mehdi Yssef, Bruno Velasquez, Dori Arazi, James Che, and Tomek Baginski, and it was a joy working alongside Jade Quon, Chris J. Alex, Thekla Hutyrova, TJ Storm, and Kelli Barksdale.

Eric Jacobus Kratos – God of War Mocap with Chris J. Alex and TJ Storm

Game creators, filmmakers, and stunt coordinators are always scouring the internet for inspiration, and that’s how they found me. If you have a skill, the hone it, film it, and put it online. And do it nonstop. Treat it like a second job. I did at least ten of these Tekken IRL videos before they called me for God of War. Work hard, and you might be doing stunts for a project like this too.

Eric Jacobus motion capture performer for Kratos in God of War

Thank you to the team at Santa Monica Studio and all the people behind Sony Playstation for this great opportunity, and Katsuhiro Harada and Bandai Namco of Tekken for helping this garage man with a GoPro chase his dreams.

It’s still January but California-based stuntman Eric Jacobus has already had a very busy 2017. From promoting his new short Blindsided and writing the feature film adaptation to working as a motion capture stuntman for numerous video games, Jacobus had momentarily stepped away from the Tekken IRL series. In his Armor King IRL video, Jacobus polled his YouTube subscribers, whose numbers recently surpassed 50,000, asking them which character they’d like him to reenact next.

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The fans spoke, so Jacobus gave them what they wanted.

Jacobus notes on his YouTube page that Devil Jin’s movelist has some real-world origins but is mostly a mishmash of Karate techniques.

Devil Jin’s movelist is built off Jin’s Tekken 3 movelist utilizing Mishima-Style Karate, which is shared by Kazuya, Heihachi, Jinpachi, and a few other characters. According to the Tekken Wikia, DJ’s movelist has elements of Shito-Ryu, though it seems like more a general amalgamation of Karate elements with its front-stance punches and abundance of front kicks, plus all the laser beam attacks. It’s be a stretch to say Devil Jin’s style is applicable in real-world situations, though the fundamentals of his basic attacks definitely have their place, as do most of his throws.

Jacobus added another poll to this Tekken video asking users who they want to see next. Make sure you turn on annotations and vote to tell him which one you want.