Amazon.com Widgets
James Frey Official Website
Join the JAMES FREY mailing list
Click

Air Face

from the San Francisco Chronicle

Guitar Hero’s front man: Adam Jennings

Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic 

(06-17) 04:00 PDT Sherman Oaks (Los Angeles County) —

About once a week, actor Adam Jennings drives a few miles down the San Fernando Valley from his apartment to a converted warehouse in nearby Woodland Hills. He lies on a couch for the better part of an hour while technicians attach about 70 little spherical sensors to his face with adhesive.

When they are done, Jennings sits on a stool in a large, dark room for eight-hour sessions and lip-syncs rock songs while his face is filmed by as many as a dozen motion-capture cameras, collecting data that will be turned into computer-generated graphics for video games.

Adam Jennings is the face of the wildly popular Guitar Hero.

“There may not even be a handful of people doing facial motion capture,” says the 24-year-old Bay Area native and Burlingame High School graduate.

He cradles the toy guitar that comes with the game and sits on the edge of his living room table as Journey’s “Any Way You Want It” blasts out of his plasma TV. Jennings, eyes locked on the screen, flutters his fingers over the colored buttons on the fret board and picks away at the plastic tab where a real guitar’s strings would be. He’s done this before. Every few bars a sign pops up on the screen: “50 Note Streak.” At the end of the song, the screen informs him he hit 94 percent of the notes.

Jennings fell into the work. After graduating from high school in 2001, Jennings moved south to attend Cal State Northridge but dropped out four years ago to pursue acting full time. His agent sent him to audition for the Tony Hawk skateboard game. A lifelong skateboarder, Jennings felt right at home delivering the punchy dialogue (“Hey skater, meet me over by the half-pipe”) while holding a board under his arm. “I booked the part,” he says.

From saloon girls to swedish

He worked on three Tony Hawk games, playing all the parts, reading all the lines, after studying scripts the size of small telephone books. When Neversoft went into production on a Wild West fantasy game called Gun, Jennings again did all the roles, including the saloon girls. When the company landed Guitar Hero, it put Jennings to work learning how to expertly lip sync.

Jennings cut hundreds of rock songs. He lip-synced in foreign languages as remote from his native tongue as Swedish. He learned the Axl scream for “Welcome to the Jungle” and taught himself to lip-sync in a British accent.

Neversoft likes to work with real rock musicians. The Sex Pistols and Living Colour are among the bands that have re-recorded their old repertoire for the game. Joe Perry of Aerosmith saw his kids playing the game and approached the company. The entire band wore the rubber suits for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, and vocalist Steven Tyler did the facial motion capture, putting on a face full of tiny, round sensors, which are inevitably referred to as “balls.”

“There’s pretty much an endless stream of ball jokes,” says Jennings, without any particular enthusiasm.

Video: To see Adam Jennings as DMC in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, go to links.sfgate.com/ZDUB

[ click to read full article at SFGate.com ]

Posted on June 21, 2008 by Editor

Filed under Culture Music Art, Los Angeles | | No Comments »