Sunday, November 13, 2011

BAF Game - Day 2

Day 2 consisted of:
  • James Busby - Ten24
  • Nick Adams - Blitz Games 
  • Brendan McNamarah - Team Bondi
  • Tony Wills - Eurocom Developments
James Busby from Ten24 explained the types of 3D scanning and how it has progressed over the years. The 3 main ones he covered were laser scanning, structured light and optical/photogrammetry. Laser scanning was one of the first forms of 3D scanning however it was expensive and slow, it would take almost 30 seconds to scan a full human body. Structured light was accurate and would give a high resolution, it is easy to capture expressions using this however it is not quick enough for human poses. The final one he mentioned was optical/photogrammetry, this uses DSLRs and converts the image into data. They project a 'noise' pattern onto the subject which in turn increases the resolution of the final image. By using this is adds extra realism in a quick and easy manner. This technique is mostly used in games and VFX.

Nick Adams came to talk about Blitz Games most recent production - Puss in Boots for Kinect. He specified 4 key areas in which they worked by.
  • Start with the player - they had to focus on the performance of the character, in this case Puss in Boots. The 3 main areas in which actions would derive from would be combat, traversal (cat attributes) and thievery ('cat burglar').
  • Deliver a hero experience - to begin with they tried out Avatering. This is where you take the skeleton of a person and directly impose it onto the character. However they found out that this didn't work too well. From this they tried gesture drive animation. They animated lots of variations of sword play for example. Which ever way the person moved they would then play the specific animation - this worked far better. They would take what the player did and exaggerate it.
  • Working with Kinect - they had to use preemptive gesture here in order to have everything move in time with each other. 
    • Start gesture - detect the start position and prepare the correct animation
    • Mid gesture - full animation would be triggered  
    • End gesture - the whole animation catches up
  • Usability Testing - this highlights any issues, they would test it out on their target audience to see how the players perceived their game. From this they would then make any necessary alterations to improve it. Always test.
Brendan McNamarah from Team Bondi came in to talk about L.A Noire and how they went about creating such life like facial animation. Good performance in games will lift your game. Using motion capture was good for body movements however it didn't work too well for faces. In 2004 they started work on L.A Noire. They didn't want to use markers on actors as it took a long time for them to be put on. What the actor did, they wanted it to be placed straight into the game without any interpretation, so they tried Photogrammetry, first using 4 cameras however it was not enough. With 8 cameras though the performance was incredibly natural and believable. 16 pairs of cameras gave them full coverage. They came across a problem where the character would look so real and alive yet when they stopped talking they would return to the game character and look almost lifeless. To overcome this, they produced lots of expressions and variations of emotions and designers/animations would then cut and paste these in and around the game to keep the continuity.

Tony Wills from Eurocom talked about Goldeneye - the new Bond game. This was purely motion capture where the camera would track movements using an optical system. They would capture the footage in real time in order to speed up production and this would then reduce the need for re-capturing. What I found interesting was seeing different game companies using similar technology yet adapting it in their own way. You get to see the pros and cons of each and the work process that they do to get to their final product.

Over the 2 days it has given me some valuable knowledge into the industry and how they go about working. Referencing and testing is key and stories are important. After seeing the work and development behind L.A Noire I think I will probably go out and purchase it to see the real gameplay. At first I wasn't too interested in it but after seeing the technology behind it I am more interested and inclined to play it.

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