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Meet a Real-Life Adam Jensen

Posted by Valerie Bourdeau

Videros caught our eye when he was featured on Kotaku. In the photo shoot, the German cosplayer looks almost exactly like Adam Jensen, down to the forehead hexagon and the logo on the shades. We just had to track him down to learn more about his cosplaying experience.

With Amélie as Eliza Cassan. Photo by Andy-K.

Hi Videros! Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is René, though online I'm mostly known as Videros. I am 27 years old and from Germany. Aside from cosplaying, I work as an IT administrator, webmaster and marketing consultant for a local company. Whenever I'm not creating a cosplay, I'd like to spend my time playing piano, participating in a theatre group and playing videogames. The biggest non-German site I'm active on is deviantart; you can see most of my recent work and also contact me if you have questions, criticism or suggestions for future projects.

I would also like to give props to the photographer, Andy-K, who did the whole Adam Jensen shoot with me.

Photos by Andy-K.

How long have you been creating costumes? How active are you in the cosplay community?

I must have been 21 when I discovered cosplay, so about six years now. I started out like almost everyone else, watching animes and mangas. Through that, I found a German community site where many different aspects of Japanese culture joined in a big and welcoming community, cosplay being one of them. Since I've always been into acting, I immediately fell in love with the idea to present a fictional character in reality.

I had no sewing or crafting skills to begin with, so I started out pretty crappy in terms of craftsmanship. Over the first years I mostly relied on friends to sew things for me, focusing more on creating props like armor, weapons or accessories. By now, I can do most by myself and I have realized that cosplay isn't just a hobby you leave behind when a convention or photo shoot is over. All the crafting skills, discipline, the ability to properly socialize via online platforms or at events continues to benefit you in your everyday life.

Photos by Andy-K.

Aside from conventions, you sometimes get invited to events like game awards. Being part of such an event is a great opportunity to establish cosplay as a way to convey the fascination for a videogame to a living audience and the media, and perhaps even clean up some prejudices by interacting with them. For example, I've often experienced older people approaching me, asking questions like "What is this? Where is it from? What are you doing there?" That is far more interest than you would have gotten out of them by placing them in front of a monitor and showing them a trailer.

I've never been into competitions. Having a trophy sitting on a table just doesn't give me the satisfaction that a real reaction does. Besides, you can rarely do the character justice in one of those 1-2 minute skits on stage. However, I still dream about participating in a video project with one or two of my cosplays. In the past few years, there have been some amazing fanmade projects that looked like trailers for real movies. It would be awesome to take part in one of those.

It's hard to tell what my most successful project was. In the Asian cosplay community, I got the most feedback for Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. In Europe and America, it was probably Alucard from Hellsing. The one that instantly went past the whole cosplay community right into the general public was actually Adam Jensen.

Photo by Andy-K.

Why did you choose to create your own Adam costume?

Most of my cosplays start with me seeing a character in a comic, anime or videogame and thinking 'Hey, I might be able to pull this one off pretty well'. Then you start thinking about how time consuming the creation will be and which location is best for which character. As for Adam Jensen, the choice was pretty simple: we only have three big cosplay conventions in Germany, the Leipzig Book Fair being the only one which has a pretty futuristic look.

Photo by Franky-chan.

It was a project I just couldn't ignore for several reasons. The whole combat armor design just fascinated me and I kept asking myself: 'Do you have the skills to do that by now?' Second thing was that people always told me that a beard would suit me. This was my chance to try it out. Last but not least, Adam Jensen was one of the most remarkable video game characters of the past few years.

How long did the whole process take, from sketches to the final product?

It was about three months or 80-100 hours, though I wouldn't call the current product 'final'. I still want to redo some parts of the costume that I'm not a hundred percent comfortable with. Also, I'd like to try my luck on a wearable version of the cybernetic arms one day.

I started out by getting references from all kinds of sources. Cutscenes, the game itself, printed magazine ads and pictures I could find all over the internet. From that, I created sketches directly onto the first layer of the combat suit. My goal was not to make a 1 to 1 replica, since that would have required me to have the exact same body shape and height. In my experience, the overall proportions are much more important than a part of the armor being slightly longer or shorter than a reference picture, so I adapted that whenever necessary.



The base of the armor consisted in two layers of crafting foam. By gluing them together and stretching one more than the other, I could give them a natural shape without having to stabilize any parts afterwards. After a little trial and error, I had it fitted to my torso shape and began applying the next layers. I started with grey-black striped fabric (which would later be visible on the front and sides of the armor), black PVC for the lowest layer around the arms, and then taped the two openings from under the arms to the bottom with industrial tape. That made the crafting foam resistant enough to sew a zipper onto the two sides. Luckily, the reference made it so that the zipper could easily be concealed by another stripe of PVC, going all the way from the bottom to the armpit.



The only thing still missing was an opening for the head. I did not want to make any cuts running through the back, as this would have destroyed the armor's stability. Instead, I opened one of the upper shoulder sides and applied some hook and loose fastener onto the next layer. This layer also went slightly further than the opening on the lower one, so it was completely concealed in the end. The rest was just cutting single pieces of crafting foam and continuing to glue them onto the base. The finished shape was then painted with resin and acrylic colors. Some screws running through all the layers and the different pieces of accessories finished the armor.



The other pieces are pretty self-explanatory, except for maybe the shades. I first dismantled an existing pair of sunglasses and pressed the lenses into some ultra-light modeling mass. The mass was then formed around the lenses according to reference images, dried and then painted. A little piece of wire was also put inside of it, to make sure it wouldn't break on the thin bridges at the bottom. After drying, the lenses were completely detachable and just held in place by the pressure of the modeling mass. I just had to attach them to my skin using a glue especially for the skin called 'mastix'.



Did you face any unexpected challenge while building your costume?

The hardest part was definitely to make the armor unequippable. The other big challenge that I still have to overcome is the cybernetic arms. I did not yet find a way to make them thin and flexible enough for an arm to fit in without losing the carbon and metallic looking elements.



You went into a great level of detail, using the actual logo on the forehead and so on. What makes you most proud about this project?

Probably the combat armor itself. I'm also quite content with the shades, though at some point I will replace the lenses with something more yellow-ish and reflective. As I said before, this project was kind of a test for my crafting skills. I wanted to see how far I could go. What makes me most proud about it is simply the fact that I got it done.

You got a great deal of attention online for your costume. Were you pleased with the reactions?

I was speechless when I suddenly discovered a huge post with more than a thousand tweets and several online features about it. Normally, cosplays don't go beyond the usual cosplay community. It was really interesting to see that the comments I got were less praise and more constructive criticism. I was really grateful for this, since it helped me see what still had to be improved and could be done better.

Photo by Andy-K.

What tips or advice would you give aspiring Deus Ex cosplayers?

Don't start out too big, especially if you haven't been into cosplay for long. Things like movable cyborg limbs are definitely among the hardest challenges you face as a prop maker. Go for a character and an outfit that emphasizes your strengths. For example, if you got the perfect looks for a character, do a version that shows most of his or her face and refrain from using a helmet or shades.

Get help from your friends if can't sew or make armor. There's nothing wrong with asking them or buying something instead of making it yourself. Get in touch with good photographers whenever you can - the quality of the photos is just as important as the quality of your work. Also don't be shy to use make-up or a wig as a male cosplayer. This can really give your cosplay a finished touch.

And most importantly, never give up. You might not be confident with the outcome of your first cosplay, but you will notice the difference in skill when you make the next one. Cosplay is about improving, everyone starts out small.

What's your next big cosplay project?

All the conventions are done for this year, so the cosplay season is over. Decisions on what to do next usually come during winter break or spontaneously, for example when I'm playing a new game or seeing a trailer. So far, nothing got me so thrilled that I instantly thought 'I have to do this!' However, I will definitely be redoing my Sephiroth cosplay next year and see how much better it can get, now that a few years have passed.

Next year I'm going to attend almost every German convention, and I'm already putting some money aside to visit a convention in the US or Asia within the next few years.

 

All our thanks to Videros for sharing his cosplay pics and experience with us. Want to show off YOUR costume? Now's the perfect time to email us, tweet @us or book our faces, we'd love to see your work!  

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