The Last of Us 2 lead animator reveals real horses were mo-capped at Sony

(Image credit: Naughty Dog)

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. 

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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)

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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. 

Getting stuck into the adventure with Ellie? Here are all of The Last of Us 2 tips (opens in new tab) you need to endure and survive. 

Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.