The World of Animated Performance Research

Dr Jason Kennedy is a Senior Lecturer (Above the Bar) and Curriculum Leader for the Animation, Visual Effects & Game Design major at Auckland University of Technology. He is both a professional animator and actor and uses his combined experience to investigate the nature of performance within the contexts of animation and motion capture.

Dr Kennedy sits at the centre of an improvised photogrammetry set-up at Auckland University of Technology.

Through multidisciplinary theory and practice, Dr Kennedy has established himself as an authority on performance within animation and motion capture. His research examines the how we understand performance in contexts where more than a single individual is responsible for the finished acting result on screen. Dr Kennedy’s doctoral thesis (2021) suggests a paradigm revision for how acting and presence are understood within performance capture. In related research, he provides an updated language for articulating how virtual acting performances navigate the Uncanny Valley. This language includes a taxonomy of performance modes among virtual actors (vactors) to better understand their acting capabilities.

Dr Kennedy performing with the Vicon Cara facial capture rig as part of production planning for the film 25 April (directed by Leanne Pooley) in August 2014.

Dr Kennedy is also a founding member of the nascent International Animation and Motion Capture Group, a collaborative network of scholars from AUT and UNSW who produce animation research. Additionally, he is a member of the VFX Research Network, an international community of animation and media studies scholars. Further, he is a collaborative research member of Eco Astronomy, an international research and innovation hub in multidisciplinary astronomy. In this capacity, he produces animated performances in the form of scientific visualisations of extinct animals to support palaeontological research and museum exhibits.