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BUILD | MOTION CAPTURE // ROUNDTABLE


HOWDEVELOPERS ARE USING MO-CAP


VICON AND DEVELOP surveyed more than 100 readers about their experiences and use of motion capture in their games. Here’s what we found:


 75 per cent of studios use in-house systems, while ten per cent don’t use mo-cap at all


 80 per cent carry out pre-viz as part of their games production  The majority of developers believe the games industry is proficient at the artistic and creative aspects of motion capture, as well as all of the studio operations, programming and mathematics involved


 However, nearly 65 per cent believe the industry needs to improve its talent management


 Most developers agreed that both keyframe animation and motion capture are valid in games development today, concurring with our panel that the two can co-exist


Though accurate data can be captured with current tech, such as Vicon’s Blade 2 (main), experts hope in future hidden sensors will mean full performances capture is possible outside of the studio


Motion capture has come a long way in the last few decades. Not only are the capture suits and head-mounted cameras now more comfortable and far less restrictive, leaps forward have also been seen in the back-end software. It all means studios can tackle mo-cap situations that they would never have even attempted in the past.


MOVING WITH THE TIMES


“17 years ago, you had teams of people whose job it was to replace bad trajectories and basically join the dots,” says Audiomotion MD Mick Morris. “Every shoot was tough. If


56 | AUGUST 2014


As the technology gets into the hands of new creators, we’ll see more impressive performances.


Mick Morris, Audiomotion


anything was blocking a marker, someone had to manually sort that out by hand. So we’ve seen huge leaps and bounds in the development of the software and hardware, which makes that part of the process easier. “We’ll get the odd job where you need eight to ten performers, but we now have the technology to handle that.” Ninja Theory’s co-founder Tameem Antoniades adds: “When we started, you usually captured the body and then animated the face or used ADR for the voice. Now we’re moving towards a full-scene capture: multiple actors using face, body and voice – even the cameras. We’re trying to figure out if we can capture the focal length in cameras and recreate every creative decision on set.” The advances in motion capture software, and the other development tools it interacts with, means that studios can see the final result of their shoot much quicker than in the past. “With things like Unreal and whatever, the quality you can have in real-time is amazing,” says Counsell. “It used to be a bit of a mystery: you had to wait a week before you could see


what the data looked like and decided whether or not to re-shoot. Now you can make those decisions on set.”


But Antoniades warns that motion capture should never replace keyframe animation. “We keyframe all gameplay and use motion capture for all drama,” the chief creative ninja says. “You could use mo-cap for walk cycles or incidental animations, but when it comes to gameplay we need to do so much tweaking on the mechanics and the responsiveness that if you motion capture it, you end up effectively turning it back into keyframe. “At the early stage of Heavenly Sword, we hired stunt men and wires and had them simulate explosions, fly through the air and do all sorts. But in the end we replaced all that with keyframe, because somebody flying through the air on wires looks like someone on wires.”


FILMIC QUALITY


As the experts discuss different motion capture experiences they’ve had on past projects, Vicon’s Elderfield observes that the methodology is becoming similar to that of another industry.


“It’s becoming more like the standard film-making process,” he says. “When you get a couple of video cameras, crew, directors and performers, there’s still a lot of tech involved on any shoot, but it’s well understood and the processes are very well defined, and that’s beginning to happen with motion capture.” With such improved understanding of how the process works, and the increased


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