The Last of Us 2 (opens in new tab)'s lead animator Jeremy Yates has posted a video that shows how Naughty Dog mo-capped real horses at Sony for the game.
In the video posted on Twitter, you can see a real horse being ridden by an actor in motion capture gear as the horse majestically leaps over an obstacle and gallops through the studio's stage. Yates also explains that a layer of plywood and a large supply of rubber mats were used on the floor for safety during the shoot. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it is to animate a horse's movements, and it's really neat to see how Naughty Dog captured footage of real horses in motion for the game.
Fun fact: Our horses were captured at Sony. The volume was enlarged just for this shoot. For safety, a layer of plywood and pretty much the ENTIRE current world’s supply of rubber matts were ordered for the floor. It arrived just days before shooting. #TheLastofUsPartII #horse pic.twitter.com/bC7M6rMkiTJuly 14, 2020
Yates said in a reply (opens in new tab) that The Last of Us 2 animator Michael Mach "created a spectacular video documentary years ago" when they shot footage of the horses, and expressed a hope that it would one day "make it out in the wild at some point." If this video is anything to go by, it would be great to see more.
In the world of video game development, we've seen many examples of dogs being put in motion capture garb in order to create realistic movements and noises of animals. In fact, Yates has previously posted about some other "four-legged cast members (opens in new tab)", including a line up of Very Good Dogs by the names of Winnie, Kippy, Moxie, and Stetson. Some of the pups even played roles of other animals, with one video demonstrating how a dog was used to mimic a deer galloping (opens in new tab).
One of the most enjoyable three days I’ve had in my professional career we’re capturing the horses for #TheLastofUsPart2 & #GhostofTsushima with @soria_sancho @gameplayAnim @BillyHarper73 😀 pic.twitter.com/TqR2wowGkWJuly 8, 2020
Outside of the Last of Us 2, we've also seen how 343 industries used adorable pug voice actors (opens in new tab) for Halo Infinite (opens in new tab), complete with plenty of snuffling noises (opens in new tab). These little behind-the-scenes snippets offer some truly fascinating insight into the processes of motion capturing animals to bring the world of the Last of Us 2 to life, and I, for one, personally always enjoy watching animal actors in action.
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