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Meet the KSR Cast: Alana Maria (Zara)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

This week: the solid steel backbone of Viper Network, Zara. Or more accurately, the outrageously good fun to be around Alana Maria.

AlanaMaria_smQ&A: Alana Maria

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself and how you got into videogame acting?

Alana Maria: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I’ve been in the entertainment industry in one form or another since the age of 12 and have always had the full support of my family. I got into video game work a little over a year ago simply because my voice fit the look of the character.

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

AM: This was actually the second game I’ve worked on that required motion capture and I have to say, I am TOTALLY addicted to putting on that horrible body-hugging velcro suit! Even though it makes you feel like sausage meat being squeezed into its skin, that suit is somehow very liberating. LOL – seriously!

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

AM: Some gamers might recognize me as the voice of Tisha in Far Cry 3. Non-gamers who like to hit up the clubs and dance to classic house music might recognize me for my work with American house music producer MK. Billed as MK featuring ALANA we hit #1 twice in the US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play Chart with our singles Always and Love Changes.

Rare: How would you describe your character in Kinect Sports Rivals, and why do you think people should sign up for her team?

AM: I would describe Zara as a no-nonsense FIERCE GLAM DIVA! A word of advice: you should only sign up for her team if you are seriously talented and focused on winning. Walk in the door with your head already in the game as she’s got no time to give the positive pep talk. Join Viper Network with your eye on the prize or don’t join at all!

Rare: Did you have a particular favourite scene to shoot on the day?

AM: I had a fantastic time shooting EVERY scene so I don’t really have a favourite. The team made work feel more like play and we had plenty of laughs. The highlight, though, was working with Kyle Soller who played Max and made the whole day a barrel of fun. Aaah, good times!

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31
Mar
2014

Meet the KSR Cast: Chipo Chung (Eve)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

This week: willowy Wolf Clan leader-in-training, Eve. Or more accurately, the marvellous and ever-enthusiastic Chipo Chung.

ChipoChung_smQ&A: Chipo Chung

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself and how you got into videogame acting?

Chipo Chung: The game I’ve spent the most time playing has been Pac-Man, the old-school arcade version, but on my computer. My record was thirteen hours straight, and I was stark raving bonkers by the end of it. Working on CG is obviously a total different level. And I’m psyched about it, coz post-Lord of the Rings and Avatar, it may be the way acting goes in the future, so I’m excited to be in the first wave of actors learning the technology.

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

CC: My first experience was a workshop with Andy Serkis, who obviously is the hero of the form. The CG figures weren’t fully functional, and he was making us create physically extreme characters. I got very confused and my character looked pretty silly. This time round, I loved it and understood it better. I was boogying and dancing throughout the shoot, coz I liked to see how my CG character moved. I liked shaking my booty.

And yes, I am worried I’m going to start liking the suit. I would love to do more facial capture, because that’s what compelled me about Gollum – seeing the human soul behind the animation.

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

CC: I place gamers in the same general category as sci-fi fanatics, so I’d say my work on Doctor Who and on Sunshine is where they may have come across my name. My Who character Chantho was a different kind of puppet coz I was under tonnes of prosthetics with an animatronic motor on my head – she was the best mask ever. Can’t wait to see how my character comes to life in this game.

Rare: How would you describe your character in Kinect Sports Rivals, and why do you think people should sign up for her team?

CC: I liked my character because she was a revolutionary. I know it’s just a game, but she was grounded in truth. It is up to the younger generation to teach the older and that’s what she’s doing with her dad. She definitely grows into a charismatic leader, and she kicks ass!

Rare: Did you have a particular favourite scene to shoot on the day?

CC: I loved the entire shoot, especially working with James, the guy playing my dad – he had the most amazing voice, he cracked me up. It’s always the outtakes that are the most fun, but I don’t suppose you’ll see those in the game!

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27
Mar
2014

Meet the KSR Cast: James Goode (Vargu)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

This week: weathered Wolf Clan wonder and long-term chieftain, Vargu. Or more accurately, well-spoken and not even slightly shouty gentleman Mr. James Goode.

JamesGoode_smQ&A: James Goode

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself and how you got into videogame acting?

James Goode: I started out years back voicing the main character on the popular LeapPad kids platform, and the same guys who run those studios started to cast me regularly in other games. I guess I became a bit of a standing dish!

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

JG: Yes, I popped my cherry in performance capture doing this game. The sense of freedom you get as an actor is the thing I most enjoyed – your body is no longer a limiting factor, so you are free to play.

I’m a pretty skinny fella, so pretending to be a man-mountain like Vargu was huge fun.

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

JG: Apart from the aforementioned LeapPad, I tend to pop up unsung in voiceovers all over the place, but gamers (or their kids) might have caught my villainous side in James Bond 007: Blood Stone, or more recently heard me as a myriad of crazy characters in the hilarious Lego City series.

Rare: How would you describe your character in Kinect Sports Rivals, and why do you think people should sign up for his team?

JG: Vargu is a very straightforward character – you’d definitely want him on your side in a battle. Tough and incredibly strong, loyal, doesn’t have a ‘side’ to him, will praise you only when it’s warranted but still encourage you when you’ve messed up. I find him appealingly soft-centred, especially when it comes to his beautiful daughter.

Rare: Did you have a particular favourite scene to shoot on the day?

JG: No one scene in particular – the whole experience was a delight!

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21
Mar
2014

Meet the KSR Cast: Kosha Engler (Carmen)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

This week: Eagle Legion’s sassy second-in-command and foil to her team captain’s angst, Carmen. Or more accurately, the very charming Kosha Engler.

KoshaEngler_smQ&A: Kosha Engler

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself and how you got into videogame acting?

Kosha Engler: I’m originally from Maryland, USA and came to London in 2005. I was trained in theatre and had done some TV, film and radio.

I got into video games in 2008 – I was in a play at The King’s Head Theatre and the sound designer was Mark Estdale, who also ran Outsource Media UK. He auditioned me for the lead in my first game and I got it.

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

KE: No. I first did performance capture when I played Claire in Crysis 3, also with the Centroid (motion capture studio) guys. Except for the Lycra, masses of kit and all the cameras, the performance was a lot like theatre. You use full voice, you move as if on stage, you play on a bare set with other actors and it’s all filmed at the same time. As for the suit – well, it shows your religion so I avoid carbs at lunch.

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

KE: Crysis 3, which is my likeness, voice and movement, and Remember Me, in which I play the assassin Olga Sedova (also mocap). I also voice the latest Maybelline UK TV ads.

Rare: How would you describe your character in Kinect Sports Rivals, and why do you think people should sign up for her team?

KE: I play Carmen of the Eagle Legion. She’s the fun-loving, sassy star athlete who enjoys teasing her team captain, Blake. People should sign up because the Eagles are top athletes and embody honor and fair play. And because Carmen is cool.

Rare: Did you have a particular favourite scene to shoot on the day?

KE: The outro of the scene when the player qualifies for our team. It was super high energy and the actor playing Blake, Nick Barber, was hilarious in his all-American enthusiasm on the line “Man, this gets me so stoked!”

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12
Mar
2014

KSR Preseason: People Power

PeoplePower_1_sm

March is all about People Power, and that means you! We’re challenging our community to earn enough accumulated points to unlock exclusive premium prizes. Complete daily challenges to start racking up the points, and as you do so we’ll add them to those already earned by everyone else taking part in Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason this month. As total points goals are met, new prizes will be unlocked!

First up for grabs is the Chicken outfit. You’ll be able to use this in Kinect Sports Rivals to leave egg on your opponents’ faces in Soccer. Let’s face it, we’ve all wanted to take to the pitch dressed as a chicken at some point. No? Just us? Well, now we all can anyway!

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But that’s not all: as always, there are individual monthly prizes up for grabs. In March you can get your hands on the Brother in Arms title, stylish wetsuit and matching wake racer. And remember, everything you win during Preseason will carry over to the full game.

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So get racing! The more points we all chip in towards those points goals, the faster everyone gets their hands on some fabulous prizes. Good luck!

06
Mar
2014

Meet the KSR Cast: Nick Barber (Blake)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

This week: Eagle Legion frontman and painfully virtuous gent, Blake. Or more accurately, all-round jolly nice bloke Mr. Nick Barber.

Nick_Barber_smQ&A: Nick Barber

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself and how you got into videogame acting?

Nick Barber: I trained for three years at RADA and I’ve done a load of different stuff so far in my career – films, TV and lots of theatre. I got into videogame acting because Side needed an actor to ‘read in’ during auditions for a game. I spent a couple of days doing that and at the end the Director said “Why don’t you read for the part?” I didn’t get the part, but it wasn’t long before I did. I haven’t looked back.

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

NB: I’d done a few performance capture jobs before this one, so I kind of knew what I was doing. That said, it’s always a new and interesting experience, because each job can be so different.

I’m not worried about liking the suit too much, it’s actually pretty comfortable – though you can get a little sweaty by the end of the day.

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

NB: Gamers will have heard me as the Race Engineer in Formula 1‘s 2011/12 games, providing the driver in-race with all the (hopefully!) helpful information about the car, the race, and the weather. Non-gamers could have seen me recently in a Dulux ad on the telly.

Rare: How would you describe your character in Kinect Sports Rivals, and why do you think people should sign up for his team?

NB: Blake, who I play, was really fun to do. He’s a Captain America-esque kind of guy for whom honour is everything. He thinks nothing is worth winning unless you win it fair and square. He’s confident, but not insufferably so – he does have a human side, and he does listen, unlike some of the other team captains!

Players should join Eagle Legion because they get to be part of a team that really values their talents and their contribution. They also have the satisfaction of knowing they’re winning not because they cheated, but because they really were the best.

Rare: Did you have a particular favourite scene to shoot on the day?

NB: My favourite scene to shoot was when Eagle Legion have put one over on Wolf Clan in an event where Wolf Clan had an unfair advantage. Blake gets very excited indeed – he’s like a little boy, practically hyperventilating with the thrill of it. It was a great scene because he’s mostly quite a controlled, military guy, and to lose it was a lot of fun!

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04
Mar
2014

Meet the KSR Cast: William Hope (Coach)

While casting and recording for Kinect Sports Rivals throughout 2013, we got the chance to work with some highly talented, extremely versatile and occasionally hilarious acting talent. And it wasn’t confined to the voiceover booth: for KSR‘s team and training cutscenes we decided that full performance capture was the only way to go.

So we hauled our actors down to Shepperton Studios, stuck them in bodysuits and headcams, and let the magic happen. Then we got them to answer a few quick questions so that we could introduce you to the fine people behind the characters (in the English-language version, at least).

Up first: your new daddy, Coach. Or more accurately, Mr. William Hope. Yes, he was also in Aliens. Yes, we were ridiculously excited. Legend.

WilliamHope_smQ&A: William Hope

Rare: Can you give us some background on yourself?

William Hope: Have been a professional actor in all media for 35 years and am best known as Lieutenant Gorman in James Cameron’s Aliens. Done over 30 feature films, over 50 TV productions, recorded hundreds of plays in radio drama, documentary and commercial v/o, over 65 audio books, many video game characters and contribute many regular characters to the global kids’ cartoon series Thomas and Friends. Regularly heard on BBC Radio 3, 4, 7 & World Service.

Rare: How did you get into videogame acting?

WH: A friend was directing a big techno political thriller and cast me as the leading bad guy contracted for 70 hours perf capture. I completed around 15 hours and the production was then cancelled by the new publishers. It may still be resurrected.

Rare: Was this your first experience of performance capture? If so, how was it? If not, are you worried that you’re starting to like the suit?

WH: All any actor really wants to do is get a crack at good writing, expand and deepen your skills and pay the bills!

Working in a suit is fine and gives the opportunity to explore new territory. The ultimate goal is to perform superb work like Andy Serkis’s Gollum!

Rare: Where are gamers and non-gamers most likely to have seen (or heard) your work before?

WH: Movies like Aliens, Dark Shadows, Sherlock Holmes, Captain America: The First Avenger, xXx, Dark Floors, The Detonator. TV like Spooks, Episodes.

Also voiced many characters in video games like Aliens: Colonial Marines, Driver: San Francisco, Constantine, Aliens vs Predator and many more.

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26
Feb
2014

KSR Preseason: International Champions

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International Champions has arrived on the Kinect Sports Rivals Hub. This global tournament pits nation against nation for glory, honour and exclusive prizes!

So leap onto your wake racer and log your best time to represent your country. We’ve introduced new national and global leaderboards so you can see how your time stacks up against other players from your home nation and out there in the wider world of KSR Preseason.

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The player who logs the fastest race time in the world by the end of  the month will be rewarded with an exclusive gold wake racer! The top player in each nation will receive a silver wake racer.

But that’s not all: we’ll be monitoring the average times for each country throughout the International Champions campaign, and the top-ranked country at close of play will win the tournament. Every single player who logged a time during the month will win a wake racer branded with their country’s flag. Not bad!

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There will – of course – be the standard daily challenges allowing you to earn points towards February’s prizes. On offer this month are the International Champion title, wake racer and matching wetsuit. Very stylish. With all this up for grabs, what are you waiting for?

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UPDATE March 3rd: International Champions has now ended and we’re delighted to announce that New Zealand was the winning nation! France came in second, and Italy in third. To see who was the top player in the world, and in your nation, check the ‘Final Results’ story on the Preseason Hub.

07
Feb
2014