torsdag 13 november 2014

Motion Capture: Tomb Raider

This week I started the Motion Capture course, the first blog assignment was to choose a game that I admire that uses Motion Capture. I have chosen the latest game from one of my favourite game series of all times – Tomb Raider (2013).

For capturing body movement Tomb Raider uses a Passive Optical Motion Capture where the actors wear suits with lots of reflective markers on them. For the facial expressions they use MotionScan where the face is covered in a fluorescent paint called MOVA. I also found an article saying that they used an in-house XSens suit (Inertial Motion Capture).

The Motion Capture of Tomb Raider was recorded at Digital Domain in Los Angeles, which is a huge studio with the possibility of using several actors simultaneously; at the most I could see four actors on the set at the same time (picture below).


The videos I found from the Motion Capture Studio with the actress, only shows that it was used for cutscenes although the article I found said that the XSens suit was used for in-game motion capture.
For the role of Lara Croft the developers hired an actress that they felt could personalize the character and make her seem like a realistic person. The actress finally chosen (Camilla Luddington) was one of hundreds of actresses that were considered. There are similarities between the actress and the character, but the character is not a replica of the actress. Mostly it is the hair colour that is similar while facial features vary in likeness.

They used the actress for all movement, facial and vocal captions. As far as I can see from the video material they only captured general body movement and not fingers, although weapons used were also motion captured.

It was not very easy to find a lot of information about the use of motion captures I thought, but from what I could find; one of the most prominent reasons for using Motion Capture was to use an actress that they felt personified the Lara Croft that they wanted to portray in the story.
Both Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics use Motion Capture and both of them have technologies in-house.

I chose the game because the game series is probably my favourite one of all games I have played; I truly appreciate the realism, both in artwork and movement, and style of the game. I really liked how the developers managed to convey a personality and story. It is what they wanted to achieve by using the various Motion Capture techniques and I think that it worked well.

I did not know before whether Motion Capture was used or not when creating the game and I would not have thought of so many different varieties of Motion Capture being used. I did not before yesterday even know that they existed. I have learnt how important having a good actor can be and how that can be used to get a more realistic result than using traditional animations. This is because actors have trained to express emotion with their bodies and faces that an animator might not have.

What I did like the most about the animations in the game was probably how it showed personality and emotion. It has been quite a while since I played the game so I cannot really remember what I liked the least about the animations. The only thing I can think of was that at times they seemed a bit “rubbery” almost, not as explosive as real human movement, as If lacking strength in the muscles.

I had read about how they wanted to humanise Lara before playing the game and I think that they managed to do so. They used the Motion Capture techniques available to create this result with the help of a real actress, when watching the video material, the size of their budget was very obvious. It was really interesting to see a little of how the game was done and very inspiring as a game like this would be my dream project to work with.


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