Over at LEVEL UP KL 2022, we had the chance to tune into the talk that Kenn McDonald, the Senior Animation Manager at PlayStation Studios Malaysia gave on the topic titled: The Introduction to Motion Capture (MoCap) in game.
Kenn has 20 years of experience in MoCap, so naturally he knows a lot about the ins and outs of said technology. The development of MoCap over the years has been really impressive, from the development of Rotoscoping by Max Fleischer for films, to the MoCap that we see being used in video game titles such as The Last of Us or Uncharted 4.
He also mentioned that Prince of Persia was one of the first ever games to use rotoscoping technology, and at the time it was said to be the most impressive advancement in the game industry. It was later followed by Virtua Fighter which used even more MoCap animation, and later with Half-Life 2 that improved onto the advancement of games development where they used facial capture to make the characters look and feel more realistic.
L.A. Noire made their stride into motion capture technology where they made big efforts in focusing on the character’s faces, but by splitting up the motion and facial capture into two separate parts, which evidently the final product of the game felt a little out of place.
Kenn mentioned that The Last of Us used traditional motion capture methods where they use a lot of cameras which focused on capturing actors’ faces. However during the same time, the Performance Capture technology which was used in Beyond Two Souls allowed them to capture both the actor’s movements as well as facial expressions. And eventually, PlayStation came back with the superior Performance Capture technology for Uncharted 4.
Motion Capture technology that developers use now are very different from rotoscoping technology, since the tech behind it has become more advanced, yet the process of motion capture has not become easier. One of the examples given by Kenn was that if someone touches one of the camera, all of it has to be re-calibrated. Yet, PlayStation still decided to stick with motion capture technology was because it produced realistic results, even it doesn’t make production easier.
Kenn once again mentions that motion capture doesn’t make game development cheaper, faster or easier. The equipment required by the actors and the process of capturing their movements are also complicated. From the suits, to the calibration, to the data processing, all of which needs hefty amounts of resources.
But despite all that, they still decided to stick with it because the results that the MoCap technology was able to produce made making Action-Adventure games more lively as it is able to have the character’s movement feel more alive and natural.
PlayStation Studios Malaysia are currently recruiting for more people to join their team to further contribute to the development of games and creating quality AAA masterpieces. For those who are interested in joining them, you can apply and submit your resume by clicking on the link here.