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New LA Noire trailer "The Technology Behind Performance"

Rockstar released some more behind the scenes footage of their animation system. Check out the video after the jump

I don't know if they've improved the quality past what I've seen previously but for some reason this seems a lot more solid than what they've released so far. If this technology runs on a 360 without impacting performance too much, it might just be as revolutionary as they say...

While I can't say we've jumped uncanny valley, this is damn impressive, especially for realtime. Facial animation and animation in general has lagged behind the rest of the industry as far as advancements go so its about time it got a little lovin!


  • Urbanmelon
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    Urbanmelon polycounter lvl 7
    It IS a pretty revolutionary technique, and it makes a lot of sense to use in such a project since it needs gritty, life-like realism.

    But as I've been formed as a traditional animator, it always makes me cringe when people say that mocap is so much better than regular animation because of its realism or whatever. I regret that in most of the video game business, animation has always been sort of put into the sidelines, it's just been an afterthought and nobody has ever tried to really push the envelope.
    With today's processing power, it WOULD be possible to have Pixar/Disney quality animation, just by giving more room to the rigs.

    I always feel a bit of sadness when I watch a movie like The Iron Giant or Tangled, with beautiful, carefully hand-crafted animation, and I think that videogames never even got close to that level. Realism isn't automatically better, like a lot of people seem to think, movement can also be stylized, just like shapes and forms, but it seems nobody ever really explored that route as far as it could go... More and more, animators in the videogame industry are just becoming mocap cleaners, and cleaning mocap animation is not fun.

    Anyways, LA Noire will definetly kick ass if the gameplay (what IS the gameplay exactly ?) matches the quality of the rest.
  • r_fletch_r
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    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 9
    they took our jewbs!!!!!
  • roosterMAP
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    roosterMAP polycounter lvl 12
  • Purplepaint
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    Purplepaint polycounter lvl 8
    Wow, that is just awesome. This game is going to be ass kickingly awesome!
  • Mark Dygert
    Urbanmelon, I totally agree. The great thing about this push isn't so much that it puts mocap front and center but that it gets people thinking about stepping away from bone based facial rigs and handle it with mesh based animation, like you get with Pixar, BlueSky ect... I think we'll see more hand animated stuff that isn't using an expensive mocap rig but uses animated meshes, in the future. I think that what they have gets them 70% where they want to be, and if they threw a few traditional animators on it they could get the rest of the way.

    In another interview their animation director (probably inadvertently) back handed traditional animators, and I think it was very unnecessary to be almost hostile about traditional animation. "I've never talked to an animator who likes to animate that stuff, because the results are never as believable as you want them to be."
  • Skamberin
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    Skamberin polycounter lvl 13
    The eyes bother me.. it's like they don't have the traditional tracking of older games for things they are interacting with. Everything else is amazing.
  • r_fletch_r
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    r_fletch_r polycounter lvl 9
    I wish they'd spill more tech on this. they dont really describe how this translates into a game ready asset.
  • Phones
    Faces: Pretty rad. All other animations+assets: meh, not up to par with the faces.
  • Treacharous
    Holy testicle Tuesday Batman
  • felipefrango
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    felipefrango polycounter lvl 9
    Looks awesome but there's so much contrast between the faces and the rest. Shaders and lighting look kinda bland and at times normal maps look really weird on characters. Also there's a considerable difference between what you see on the split screen animation comparison to the final compressed game animations. As Vig said, traditional animators could step in after this process to crank it up one final notch.
  • ZacD
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    ZacD ngon master
    I really love the facial deformation, that's whats the biggest difference between this and other games, but yeah the mocap looks jerky at times and the lighting could be better, still I'm impressed.
  • mkandersson
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    mkandersson polycounter lvl 7
    wow really wow... amazing detail!
  • Urbanmelon
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    Urbanmelon polycounter lvl 7
    @Vig: Yeah, it would be a good thing if engine developers start to think about other solutions than just blendshapes and bones. A lot of engines don't even support bone scaling animation, I mean stretch and squash is the most basic principle of animation (for cartoon AND realism) and a lot of animators aren't even able to use that. There are a BUNCH of other deformers that exist and are used in other 3D animation fields (clusters, lattices, etc) and are not used in games right now...

    What that guy said about animators not liking to animate faces is crazy, that justs sounds like classic marketing bullshit to me.

    I think that there are two flaws on their system, even if I DO find it pretty amazing :

    1. Forcing the actors to play "facial animation" separately hinders their performance because they have to play it twice (obviously), but also because you need your whole body to act, and having to stay still on a chair while acting must be REALLY awkward. Their face scanning technique seems doomed from that aspect of things, because there is no way they can face-scan in a regular motion capture environment, it needs to be a separate process to work. It's not like the actors are gonna walk around on the motion capture space with a 32-camera helmet on their head !

    2. Face scanning makes it hard to do any kind of touch up work. If each head instance has different topology and textures (which it looks like on the trailer, look at the mouths), how can you productively edit the animation ?

    But this tech is still in its infancy, and ultimately I hope it will make things change in the long run and be a benefit for regular animation as well. But some of these people need to watch what they say about animators, it's irritating, photography hasn't replaced painting and neither will this.
  • EVIL
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    EVIL polycounter lvl 18
    Yeah, it was very obvious that the faces where animated seperate from the bodies. its a cool tech, but I will always prefer traditional animation techniques.
  • Mark Dygert
    @ UrbanMelon, I completely and whole heartily agree. The lack of understanding, and the exclusion of things like squash and stretch on bones while other aspects get heaps of attention and resources is one of the key reasons animators run off to film where armies of people are thrown at some of the problems animators face. In the game industry you're lucky if you get a tech artist and you're lucky if the animator isn't required to also be a tech artist.
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