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Actor Walt Gray ’08 Takes to the Motion-Capture Stage

Walt Gray on Sony motion-capture stage

Walt Gray is in his third year of motion-capture work for Sony.

As a production assistant on Sony’s motion-capture stage in Los Angeles, IUP theater graduate Walt Gray IV ’08 fills a number of roles in the making of video games. He builds sets, helps actors into their suits, and sometimes calls out shots.

On other days, Walt is the motion-capture actor, and other people help him use his voice and movement to bring characters to life. “I love video games, and I love acting, so it’s a perfect marriage of the two,” he said.

Motion capture involves recording the movements of human actors and applying that motion to digital characters for movies, games, and more. On Walt’s stage, the actors wear spandex suits with more than 50 marble-sized, reflective balls that allow cameras to track their movements. Smaller markers are applied to the actors’ faces. “We can see every eye movement and nostril flair,” Walt said.

Animators then apply their characters to the recorded movements. “It’s not going to look like you,” Walt said. “It’s your voice and your motion, but that’s it.”

Sony’s motion-capture stage uses 60 cameras, which results in quick filming, and the actors are virtually free from the hassles of lighting, costume, and makeup. 

“The suit is silly, the headcam’s silly, but once you let go of that, it’s the most freeing form of acting,” Walt said.

He also finds the work refreshing because it opens doors for many talented but overlooked actors. “There’s more of a focus on the craft, as opposed to is he or she pretty enough to be on camera,” he said.

Walt is in his third year of motion-capture and voice-over work. His credits include Uncharted: The Lost Legacy for PlayStation 4 and a number of games that are still in production. He also had a role in the HBO drama The Newsroom in 2013.

Walt holds a master of fine arts degree from UCLA. An Indiana native, he is the son of the late Walt Gray III M’87, D’91, formerly of the IUP Counseling Department, and the late Anita Henry, IUP professor emerita of French.