Emotion visualization in 3D games
The company Rockstar Games, gained worldwide fame thanks to its series of video games Grand Theft Auto, in which everyone could find himself for a while, though virtual, but so close to reality, streets full of violence. In the new upcoming Rockstar project, LA Noire , human faces will play an important role. The Australian developers of the game, Team Bondi, used advanced face capture technologies and facial expressions, which allowed to transfer into virtual space the widest range of subtle emotions played by real actors. In most games up to this point, such large, highly detailed character plans were used only in inter-level videos, specially staged and shown for greater immersion in the plot of the game, linking its interactive parts.
In LA Noire, the study of emotions is one of the main features of the gameplay, and the development of the game will depend on how you manage to notice the slightest changes on the faces of virtual characters. Even the small emotions of game characters can give you important clues to the crimes offered by the game. You will have to look at the actors and try to decide if they are lying to you. It sounds pretty damn cool, but it looks like you can see it on the trailer below. Motion Capture technology is getting better and better, and probably after a couple of years unnatural character animation in games will sink into oblivion.
In order to get high-quality recordings of the actors' faces, Team Bondi developed an amazing 32-camera system called Motionscan. These cameras work in pairs in order to capture the actor from different angles in a room filled with intense white light so that not a single wrinkle goes unnoticed. The Australian division of Gizmodo managed to get to the game developers studio and see what the shooting process looks like.
Nine servers receive data arriving at a speed of 300 MB / s into a buffer of 45 terabytes in size, where digital processing takes place, and they can produce up to 50 minutes of finished material per day. Although the actors have to work, while inside the system, for hours. Aaron Stayton, starring in LA Noire, known to the public on the Madmen television series, spent 80 hours inside the Motionscan rig. In the video below, you can see how work was carried out to capture the game of Staton, John Noble (from Beyond the Boundary) and other American and Australian actors, as well as their impressions of working with Team Bondi and Motionscan technology.
James Cameron with his Avatar raised the bar for realistic 3D animation using real actors and motion capture technology. However, Rockstar and Team Bondi managed to create beautiful images with their Motionscan technology. It’s amazing how fast video game development budgets get close to Hollywood movie budgets! Do not forget that the cheaper and simpler 3D motion capture technology is waiting in the wings, and is likely to find a commercial application in the near future.
Technologies are developing rapidly and in the near future there will probably be games that are as beautiful and realistic as movies. And LA Noire seems to be one of the first steps in that direction. In the near future, one should expect not only real actors, but also completely invented and modeled characters that will be so realistic that it will be hard to believe. And I want to hope that by that time we can still distinguish between virtual and real.