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Team Bondi: L.A. Noire's tech will evolve to make games 'hard to differentiate' from film and television

According to Team Bondi, the face capture technology which gives L.A. Noire's characters their complex expressions will eventually be capable of capturing full-body acting, which will result in an unprecedented level of realism. Currently, the MotionScan system used by Team Bondi is only capable of capturing heads, but Depth Analysis, the company behind it, is working in tandem with the developer on the next phase.

"MotionScan embodies the future on a few levels," said Team Bondi boss Brendan McNamara in a recent interview with Develop. "Firstly, when this technology can capture full body performances, the level of realism will be hard to differentiate between game, film and television. That will make the gameplay experience pretty seamless from exposition to action."

McNamara's confidence is in direct opposition with earlier comments from Heavy Rain creator David Cage, who called L.A. Noire's tech a "dead end," and claimed that it "will never be able to shoot body and face at the same time." That's not the case, according to McNamara.

"Secondly, for film makers it will mean they can create whole scenes from capture data on the desktop the way they currently edit films. They will be able to adjust the action, move characters, change cameras and relight the scene until their heart's content. Overall, for filmmakers that's pretty exciting. And for games creators, it means we can compete with films and TV on a pure storytelling and performance level, along with leveraging all of the other interactive strengths that will pave the way for more exciting games."

McNamara wrapped up by saying, "For MotionScan the goal is to continually make it better. As I said earlier, it’s still very early days and we are listening to feedback from the people who are testing the rig and pipeline."

“We want to be able to use shaders more cleverly, take a look at subsurface scattering and also computer generated hair too, which we see a lot of our film customers are working with. We are also looking at retargeting so that you could take an actor’s performance from MotionScan and apply it to various non-human characters."

"We are already doing initial research for full body capture in costume for phase two – it’s exciting times for Depth Analysis and MotionScan for sure."


Above: The latest L.A. Noire trailer

The times definitely are exciting, but not just for Team Bondi - David Cage isn't the only one challenging the developer's efforts to eradicate the "uncanny valley" with realistic facial expressions. In an interview in the next issue of EDGE, Alan Wake creator Remedy claimed that it's raising the bar even higher.

"L.A. Noire has set a bar for facial animation," said Remedy CEO Matthias Myllyrinne. Then, raising one hand higher than the other, he added, "But [Rockstar’s game] is here, we’re aiming to be here."

According to EDGE's summary of the interview, Remedy's lead animator John Root has created a powerful system "which uses motion capture as a starting point for generating scans of actors (in this case, Alan Wake’s physical model, lkka Villi) accurate to ½ mm, including 64 facial poses from which Root claims every human expression can be derived."

The post continues, "Armed with a highly accurate model of the actor, animators can then use sliders to adjust expressions based on the captured positions, allowing them to control and edit a realistic human face in real time rather than rely on bespoke performances for every cutscene and action, or manually animate the same expression."

"The results are strikingly nuanced, telegraphing a great deal of subtlety even at this early stage, the system promising a significantly more flexible way for animators to work. Despite this, Root has even bigger plans: one additional component yet to be implemented is colour mapping, a system which will simulate blood flow beneath the skin, adjusting its colour as brows are furrowed or lips pursed."

Regardless of the varying approaches, the apparent battle to seamlessly integrate realistic acting into games can only lead to more interesting experiences for us, so... keep up the fight, we guess!

Apr 11, 2011

22 comments

  • austincharlesbond - April 12, 2011 11:27 a.m.

    If anything is to make games 'hard to differentiate' from film and television, it's the story and themes. I can already tell the story will be amateur. L.A. Confidential this is not. I love games and play for fun, but I'm on Ebert's side.
  • sternparez - April 12, 2011 11:15 a.m.

    can't wait for this tech to be used in the next GTA. The environments in GTA IV still look class but the characters are plain fugly.
  • cart00n - April 12, 2011 6:53 a.m.

    I, for one, am uninterested in shooting a "real" person in the face, and am afraid that this is where we're headed. I'm all for "realistic" to a point; but if game-tech becomes "photo-real", I don't think I'll play them anymore. I won't even play a current gen COD game, it's just too creepy. I much prefer more fantasy in my gaming. Hell, I just had to take out an entire tribe of elves last night in a game that's no where NEAR photo-realism, but the characters were so well nuanced, (and I'd gotten to know them pretty well in my time with them), that when a decision of mine led to their massacre, it hit me like a brick in the face. I actually had to turn the game off after that. I was simply too stunned to continue. I'll continue playing it tonight, but I still needed some time away. Nope, not interested in photo-real imagery at all... I am looking forward to LA Noire, however...
  • BladedFalcon - April 12, 2011 6:12 a.m.

    @EwoksTasteLikeChicken Well... don't jizz just yet. Rockstar is the publisher, but the main developer and the one behind the technology is team Bondi. As far as I know, a completely different developer than RDR. Of course, if Team Bondi decides to cooperate on the developing of RDR, or is kind enough to share their tech, then maybe it could happen, but I think it's way too early to tell.
  • DarkTone - April 12, 2011 2:47 a.m.

    I'm TOO biased towards R*. I love everything they bring out (except THAT game) and will keep my eye on this. Like I need too...
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - April 12, 2011 1:02 a.m.

    You know what's gonna be funny? If there's all this hype about the game, and then it turns out to suck. Nah I'm just kidding. It's a Rockstar game, so of course it's going to be amazing. Just a thought, but what if they used this tech to create Red Dead Redemption 2? OMG jizz in my pants time...
  • MajorPonch - April 12, 2011 12:49 a.m.

    Skynet...
  • Brutalicus - April 12, 2011 12:41 a.m.

    I hope game devs keep up this pissing contest. Whoever can get ludicrous facial detail (a la Crysis or Uncharted) and combine it with this tech will have my money!
  • BeefSupreme - April 11, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    @GayforGilbert What would you expect from a frog? Big props should go to team Bondi. This tech is great, and it really helps bridge the gap between the action and the story. Sheriff Johnson in Red Dead was a very impression character model, but seeing Ken Cosgrove in "videogame" form just looks awesome.
  • EgonSpengler - April 11, 2011 11:18 p.m.

    Quality writing. I mean quoting
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - April 11, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    @Z-man427 The tech they are referring to is in development.
  • GayforGilbert - April 11, 2011 10:30 p.m.

    David Cage is such a smug prick. I really want these two companies to prove him wrong, in their own ways.
  • Z-man427 - April 11, 2011 10:27 p.m.

    If Remedy had such awesome tech, why was in the lip syncing in Alan Wake so god-awful? Really, I loved that game, but the lip syncing was the worst
  • bigwill1221 - April 11, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    Why do I want to say Heavy Rain for some reason after reading this...
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - April 11, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    @awinnerisjew Um, I don't, I just reported what Team Bondi said. Its statements may or may not be true, but we won't know until we see it.
  • awinnerisjew - April 11, 2011 9:43 p.m.

    @435 Really? If that's true that's amazing. I'm sure they didn't design the system with intent to make it more accessible to people with disabilities but it's cool that it turned out that way. @GamesRadarTylerWilde How do YOU know? The average human perception of the non-existent technology doesn't exist yet. Hmmm? HMMMMMMMMMMMM?
  • TrojanGold - April 11, 2011 9:39 p.m.

    I think a large number of gamers will always want a digital look to what they play, if something looks completely real then it won't feel like a game as much. It's one of the core elements to gaming, it's why people like Pixar films as they are and not "realistic." Too many people already spend countless hours into things like WoW, how many more would they if they couldn't tell the difference between it and the real world?
  • Yingsin - April 11, 2011 9:36 p.m.

    I just cant see how you would be able to get soo close to the actual textures of skin and hair and the exact movements a face/body would make, but of course I am no expert and only time will tell.
  • MancisFrorkYorgan - April 11, 2011 9:33 p.m.

    If Remedy has created technology to surpass Team Bondi's, then why hasn't it been shouting it from the rooftops? Perhaps I'm mistaken, but when you make an innovation like that you don't keep quiet about it.
  • GamesRadarTylerWilde - April 11, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    @Yingsin How do you know? The tech doesn't exist yet.

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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