Friday, October 25, 2013

L.A Noire and Facial Capture

L.A Noire (2011) used the MotionScan system (created by Depth Analysis) for which it recorded facial motion capture. It was vital that they got accurate facial capture in order for players to be able to tell when a character is lying. MotionScan is markerless technology so there is no need for actors to be put in any type of suit or have markers on their face. This reduces the time it takes and adds an ease to the whole process, it took around 30-60 minutes to scan the whole head. From here the actors would then be recorded in the capture stage where 32 cameras were setup in order to capture the whole head. Deph Analysis were able to record audio at the same time as the facial capture in order for it to all sync up. The body and neck movements come from a separate session of motion capture, the problem with this is that the body can sometimes look disjointed from the head and the movements aren't as natural and realistic as the facial expressions. It somewhat breaks the players immersion and for myself, I found it really noticeable.
"We didn't want animators touching up the data. Each time you do that, you lose a bit of the personality. We wanted LA Noire to be as authentic as possible"  - Oliver Bao, head of research, Depth Analysis
As the MotionScan system eliminated the need for data clean-up, it increased the amount of animations that were produced a day. Around 15 minutes of animation were achieved a day, in which an animator could spend almost a week cleaning up that data alone. Since the game was released in 2011, Depth Analysis is aiming to increase the capture resolution so that it can also include full-body. This will be really beneficial and will be interesting to see the progress of this. When this is complete it will be great to see how they compare together - the facial capture with separate motion capture data for bodies and full-body captures.

The faces themselves are very realistic and almost an exact match to the actor's face. When captured, the faces are of a much higher resolution (more suitable for film) so when transferred in game, it loses some of its quality but the core believability is still there. There are some eye movements which sometimes takes away from the realism of the characters yet it's not at the point of the Uncanny Valley. L.A Noire hasn't fallen into this category, normally when games or films attempt to achieve really realistic results, it ends up becoming eerie and feeling 'uncanny'. It's been said that because of the MotionScan technology that this was the main reason for escaping the Uncanny Valley. Because of the high realism in the face, it didn't have that 'fake' feeling or any of the eeriness associated with the uncanny.

No comments:

Post a Comment