No doubt you’ve heard about Rockstar’s latest release LA Noire - apparently a completely new type of video game. Up until recently, most games have been all about hand eye co-ordination but in LA Noire, which is set in the late 40s, the main skill is about being able to judge body language and characters’ faces to figure out if they’re lying or not - or ‘emotional perception’ as some are calling it.
As it's all about perception in this game, the makers have used a new type of Visual Effects technology which adds a lot of realism - Motion Scan, a new way of capturing facial expressions. Standard motion-capture means that the actor's face is covered in small, reflective balls, which are tracked by a camera. But the problem with that is that it doesn’t really capture the muscles or the skin movement of the face. But with Motion Scan, each actor has 32 cameras on them, which record every movement at the rate of 1,000 frames-per-second, giving a 3D animation of the actor's face when they say their lines.
But just how significant and groundbreaking is it for the VFX industry? There’s no doubt that this technology is absolutely awesome but I’d like to see it with more fidelity and on higher res geometry. It has started to be used more frequently in animation and it’s nice that that they can apply it to a mesh within the game engine. However, I reckon it’s not as impressive as the more elegant VFX approach used in films like Avatar. One of the main problems is that the head shots have to be done separately from the main motion capture shoot, whereas with Avatar, James Cameron used full body capture with Video Reference for the face. It does look good though and as it gets used again and again, it will only improve so I’m keen to see how it develops in future.
What do you think? Am I expecting too much from what is still a big step forward for gamers? Do you think that motion scan will replace motion capture?