By Horace Holloman
ATLANTA — Joel Mack has gone from playing video games set in virtual worlds to working with a host of high-profile clients to bring their visions — and their characters — to life.
When his father brought home a PlayStation 2 console and The Matrix game, based on the 1999 sci-fi film about life in a simulated reality, Mack fell in love with virtual reality and game design. .
Through the company he co-founded, Actor captureit helps individuals and businesses create “digital humans”, 2D and 3D animated characters that look realistic.
Mack, who graduated from Georgia State this spring with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in Game design and development, said that getting started with video games at an early age isn’t just about enjoying a hobby. It was a life changing experience.
“I feel like the game has kept me out of trouble and kept me away from bad influences,” he said. “It really changed the trajectory of my life.”
Since its inception in 2020, Actor Capture has worked with high-powered companies such as Warner Bros. Studios, BET and FOX on motion capture for advanced animation projects.
The Capture actor also worked with Grammy-winning rap artist Cardi B for an episode of her Facebook series, “Cardi Tries.” In the episode, Cardi B transforms into a playable game character using motion capture technology. The episode has accumulated over 5 million views.
Mack started at Georgia State as an economics major. A class project took him down the rabbit hole of technology and academic offers at the Institute of Creative Media Industries (CMII).
At CMII, students have rare access to cutting-edge technology and instruction from faculty who are highly experienced in using new technologies at the highest commercial levels. CMII’s facilities include a performance capture studio with multi-camera motion capture, volumetric and virtual production technologies, and advanced capture software systems.
“I didn’t realize there were so many tools at Georgia State,” Mack said. “It all started to fall into place, and it opened up so many ideas for me.”
Mack worked on several virtual reality-based projects while at Georgia State, including a business card that lets users view a 3D display of the person or business by pointing their phone at the map. The effect is reminiscent of the scene from “Star Wars” when Princess Leia calls for help transmitted by a robot.
“Virtual business cards have been created before, but there haven’t been volumetric business cards like this where you can have an exact replica of the person,” Mack said. “Every reaction I’ve heard is, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’ or ‘That’s amazing.’ It’s the future.
After graduation, Mack plans to join his father in the real estate business while continuing to build his Actor Capture business.
“I’m 23 and I’m getting into these industries and trying to get my name out there,” he said.
Photo by Carolyn Richardson