Developer diary: Tara Saunders, lead cinematic artist
Katie Ellwood (the scriptwriter/narrative producer) has delivered the final draft of the script and China (the external performance director) is in on Monday for us to start going though the script and generating the storyboards. After a few months of working on the R and D of the new technology for Black Monday it feels good to be getting the script and starting the next stage of the project.
We've been through the script and the storyboards are complete. Casting sessions have been held and all the principal actors have been cast. Tomorrow the full cast are in for our first script read though. Will be good to see how they all sound alongside each other.
Going to use today's read through of the script along with the storyboards to turn them into animatics. This will give us an idea of how much cutscene we need to produce over the next 12 months!
In the middle of planning the eight week motion capture shoot that's rapidly approaching. Katie is busily planning the shoot schedule (a pretty daunting job) while the actors are in the studio rehearsing the scenes upstairs in a room that's been marked out with the space we know we have to capture in at the mocap studio. The database that's going to keep the data organised is nearly finished and we have all the technologies in place now ready for the shoot.
Heading down to the motion capture studio this week for some final testing and set up of all the kit. The shoot starts on Monday... it'll be a long hard eight weeks.
We have just finished week three of the motion capture shoot. Today was a productive but challenging day. As usual the actors arrived at 8am and got into their lycra suits, magnetic capture backpacks and facial capture helmets. At least they are all used to the morning routine now and don't think it odd to be dressed up in lycra and shiny balls.
Today we captured a few of the more complex moves including getting Dave Legeno, who plays Eddie O'Conner, kitted up in a harness for some torture scenes. We had the stunt coordinator along to help with this scene and a big fight sequence scheduled for the afternoon.
The cutscene motion capture shoot is finished and we have all the magnetic capture data back in the studio to roughly build the scenes together and get the first pass of the cameras in place. The animators on the cutscene team have started on this process and we have the first couple of scenes blocked out. The optical data for these scenes has been ordered from the capture house and is due back on Monday. Only another 45 scenes to go! This stage is a bit like building a 3D jigsaw puzzle with some cutscenes being built out of many different motion capture takes. Others are thankfully a bit more simple with just a couple of takes to blend together.
All the scenes have been built in Motionbuilder out of the magnetic data and all the cameras are in place now. We need to drop in the clean optical data now which is being delivered in a steady stream from the motion capture house.
The vocal tracks are pretty much correct for timing now, bar any edits that are required for gameplay reasons. This means that the facial animation is underway and the audio team are working on the audio tracks.
We are working on getting all the scenes working on PS2 at the moment - they still require some work on the object animation, character animation polish and the effects that make the final graphic look but we have the character animation and cameras exported and up-and-running on the development kits.
The guys are busy working on the lighting - they are working through each scene lighting the characters per shot. Makes a big difference to the scenes and they are really taking shape now especially after hearing the music and work in progress foley that has been added to audio tracks now.
Half the cutscene team are working on the lighting now while the others are working through the scenes carrying on adding all the object animation and particle effects.
A few of the game level artists are working on tweaking the final set dressing of the cutscenes and making sure that the set lighting is working on all scenes. The depth of field is being added to the shots that require it and the character lighting is almost finished!
In the final stages now and we are working hard on adding those final bits of polish and ironing out the last of the bugs. After months of working round the clock, it's really rewarding to see it all come together - in these last months the cutscenes have started to really shine. Now the final few issues have been resolved and I've had a chance to step back from the storm and really appreciate the quality of the whole cinematic experience.
The Getaway: Black Monday is released for PS2 on 12 November