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    UNCHARTED 3: A Peek Behind the Digital Curtain

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    UNCHARTED 3: A Peek Behind the Digital Curtain

    Post by iPROFamily on Fri May 20, 2011 2:45 pm


    The blockbuster success of [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    proved what many gamers and game developers already knew: Motion
    capture is the future of performance. The film’s groundbreaking use of
    mocap technology caught the attention of Hollywood and the game
    industry, raising interest in perfecting the nascent craft with a
    combination of new technology, refined processes, and good old-fashioned
    acting chops.


    ”We’ve developed a unique process for motion capture and performance capture for games,” [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
    Creative Director Amy Hennig explained during a recent tour of Naughty
    Dog’s cutting-edge new mocap studio in Culver City, California. “We’re
    kind of ahead of the pack.” Hennig described the evolution of the
    UNCHARTED series’ motion capture technology, beginning with the humble
    stage used to record [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].
    It was an outdated, uncomfortable place to perform, equipped with a
    camera array that painted the room with eye-searing red light. And its
    poor acoustics made dialog recording impossible, so in-game speech had
    to be added later.


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    “We cast very carefully, that’s step one in any
    project. If you cast hastily or badly, you’re screwed forever. If you
    cast well, you can write any piece of crap and they’ll make it sound
    wonderful. Trust me, I’ve done it!”
    — Amy Hennig, Creative Director, [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

    Following UNCHARTED’s breakout success, Naughty Dog upgraded to the vastly more sophisticated facilities at the [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] for [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.],
    a game that further strained the boundaries of cinematic game
    storytelling. The House of Moves facilities featured an integrated sound
    stage that enabled Naughty Dog’s team to record dialog while
    simultaneously capturing the actor’s physical performances — a
    then-unheard of process that is quickly becoming the gold standard for
    video-game performances.


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    An array of 86 infra-red cameras capture the
    actors’ physical performances with eerie precision. The studio’s
    integrated soundstage lets the actors deliver their lines seamlessly
    along with their movements.


    Now, with [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.],
    the team is shooting on its very own cutting-edge mocap set, the
    culmination of years of pioneering experimentation in game storytelling.
    Though the sets and props are largely virtual, Hennig and her team make
    frequent comparisons to shooting for television. “We don’t have the
    luxury of writing a big script in an ivory tower,” she explained. “We
    have an outline that we work from and we write the scenes as we go.”
    That looser approach gives Hennig and her storytelling team the
    flexibility to adapt to script changes or make tweaks based on a
    performer’s strengths. “As the writer, I get to learn the actor’s voices
    — their cadences, their idiosyncrasies, and I write them right in,”
    Hennig said. “Their characters become infused with their personalities.”


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    UNCHARTED 3’s high-tech motion capture process
    converts the actor’s movements into 3D datam which displays in real time
    over a simple approximation of the game environment. Later, animators
    and artists adjust the mocap data and drop it into the final game.


    Actor Nolan North — who performs as series frontman Nathan Drake but
    also boasts an impressive resume of film, TV, animation and game
    performance work — raved about working with Hennig’s team on the
    UNCHARTED series. “I find that movie stars aren’t that interested in
    doing games, but actors are. There is a freedom and a beauty of doing
    this that’s like going back to the roots of black-box theater. It’s
    collaborative; it’s the true actor experience.” North also pointed out a
    rapid shift in the perception of video game performances among actors.
    “It’s changed. I know people who used to do video games and told me,
    ‘oh, eventually you’ll move on to animation.’ And now they’re trying to
    get back into games!”


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    “This might surprise some people, but we don’t
    just play Drake and Sully. Sometimes I’m mocapping the guy whose neck
    I’m breaking! Sometimes we play as the bad guys…in UNCHARTED 2’s train
    sequence, you’ll notice that one soldier runs with a bit of a limp.
    That’s me, chasing me, and getting blown up by propane tanks.”
    — Nolan North (as Nathan Drake)


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.][You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    This humble array of sandbags and carpentry will
    be transformed into a realistic vehicle in the digital world of
    UNCHARTED 3. (Right) Naughty Dog pioneered the process of capturing
    motion and dialog simultaneously for video game performances,
    eliminating the disjointed feel found in some other game performances.


    [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]


    “Amy writes a great script. It’s like a strong
    tree, and we just branch from it,” Nolan North says. “If you let actors
    go too much with ad-libbing, when you don’t have a strong story
    structure, it becomes a mess. We do our thing, and then Naughty Dog
    takes it and makes magic.”




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