Naughty Dog employed fully-grown adults in mo-cap suits to gurgle and coo like a baby for a scene in The Last of Us 2.
Those of you who've made it to The Farm chapter will remember a precious few minutes of calm before everything turns to shit again. Specifically, Ellie taking care of Dina's baby while Dina cooks and cleans brings out some really tender moments. Well, as it turns out, Ellie's voice actor Ashley Johnson wasn't actually cradling a baby at all - she was alternating between holding two different full-grown women. Check out the side-by-side below to see the mo-capping feat in action.
(spoilers!!) Being a mom of 2 I requested to work on this level in #TheLastofUsPartII . Mocaping adults as babies- so fun. #BTS @Naughty_Dog #workingmom @amyejohnston @___MichelleLee @soria_sancho https://t.co/fzv2FkfzGV pic.twitter.com/TLXOoCMZETJuly 17, 2020
As Naughty Dog animator Marianne Hayden points out, Dina's baby was mo-capped by actors Michelle Lee and Amy Johnston, both of whom put on incredibly convincing performances. I can only imagine how hard it was for all actors involved, not to mention the crew behind the camera, to fully commit to that scene without laughing.
Without the specifics from Hayden, I can only assume the production team chose to work with adults for obvious reasons; payment for the work, finding a mo-cap suit for a baby, and you know, getting a baby in full mo-cap gear to sit still and be quiet for five minutes. Either way, I applaud Naughty Dog for making the baby seem so real - probably the most genuine-looking baby I've ever seen in a video game.
Although a real-life baby didn't do any mo-cap for The Last of Us 2, Naughty Dog did wrangle a few actual horses into the studio. Thank the heavens, there is nothing on this green Earth near as nightmarish as the Rat King for Naughty Dog to mo-cap.
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