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Brennain Jordan

BSc (Hons) Computer Animation and Special Effects (2009)

Brennain Jordan
  • Graduated in 2009
  • Currently Motion Capture Technical Director at The Imaginarium Studios
  • Worked on Avengers: Age of Ultron

Brennain Jordan has given us an insight into his career since graduating from the University of Bradford, with a BSc (Hons) in Computer Animation and Special Effects.

"The Imaginarium Studios is a digital studio based in London specialising in applying motion capture (Mocap) technology in film, television and video games. We work in a small team, each of us with a slightly different speciality.

"My role at Imaginarium is Motion Capture Technical Director, which encompasses a little bit of everything across the Mocap spectrum, requiring knowledge and experience of every aspect."

A typical day

"Working at Imaginarium is extremely varied, depending on the project you’re working on. For instance, an example of a typical day on a shoot could be:

07.00 - 08.00 – Breakfast time! We get the system warmed up and running and the actors practicing their range of motion. This is where we get the actor to follow a set of movements before we start to capture. It allows us to get an idea of body size and marker placement and it allows the computer to learn about the subject it’ll be capturing.

09.00 - 10:00 - Ready to shoot. We keep relaxed and informal during this stage, so we might have music playing while we do a wand wave and let the clients get breakfast.

10.00 - 18.00 - The shoot. Film shoots and game shoots are quite different beasts. A day of Mocap for a feature film may involve a small handful of shots - the director and performers can take their time to make sure they get everything looking just as they want it. Whereas a day of Mocap for a video game may have everything planned meticulously in advance by the client, and we may blast through up to 200 shots/moves in a day.

We try and make the shooting experience for clients as creative and as free as possible. We develop methods and tools that try and get the tech out of the way, and everyone on set is always happy to help out with the odd curve-ball thrown at us! 

18.00 - 19.00 – That’s a wrap! We’ll usually wrap up around now and then put more music on.

"A typical non-shoot day is quite different. It’s usually spent post-processing shoot data and developing new tools."

Career highlights

"A stand out moment in my career so far was when I was lucky enough to spend a week on the set of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which was an incredible and unforgettable experience.

"Three of my colleagues and I were invited over to New Orleans for research and experience. We watched Andy Serkis (who owns The Imaginarium Studios and is known for playing the character of Gollum in Lord of the Rings) in character as Caesar, on a beautifully built set of the Ape village, in the blazing sunshine, whilst enjoying the food and music of New Orleans!

"Whilst out there we also met some of the world leaders in creating performance capture-driven digital characters in feature films, and boy they know how to do it!

"We were privileged to be privy to techniques that they have spent years developing - from how to build an active marker suit, to how to achieve on-set motion capture.

"Back in London we are now putting all that knowledge to good use on our current projects.

"Another highlight for me, and I have to be careful not to give too much away here, a moment that sticks out in my mind was last year when we were working on Avengers: Age of Ultron - I was guiding James Spader through a range of motion, and about half way through I noticed Robert Downey Jr. standing behind me joining in!"

Looking back

"Everything I learned during my time at the University of Bradford has been useful at many points during my career.

"Most of all for actually getting me into the industry in the first place - the show reel I developed while at Bradford got me my first job!

"Before working at The Imaginarium I was at fellow Motion Capture facility Centroid 3D, where I first cut my teeth on all things Mocap.

"We did several film projects during my time there which I greatly enjoyed, but the last couple of years have seen some entirely new and very exciting experiences."

'Unglamorous' but rewarding

"There is no doubt that my job is challenging - there's no sugar coating it, working in this industry requires hard, hard work, and it can be pretty un-glamorous at times.

"But on the other hand, the rewards speak for themselves."