Evolution of Performance Capture #3 – Kara

by samwiselee

Capturing emotion in virtual characters is a challenge. It limits expressional creativity in virtual productions–games, 3D animation movies, and the lot. This post is the last of the three part series that introduces some of the recent evolution in motion capture technology, or more accurately performance capture technology.

Last time we looked at L.A.Noire and the technology behind its facial expression capture so detailed that you can read liar’s tell from a virtual character.
This time, Quantic Dream strikes again–with another tech demo featured in E3 2K12. Unlike “The Casting” this one is not exactly a demo for a game under production. The company simply wanted to push the envelope of convincing performance in virtual characters–and they succeeded. Without further ado, the awe-inspiring video.

This video is actually more interesting and engaging than some full length movies these days. Within this one short video the character “Kara” goes through many different levels of emotional stages. At first she is very robotic and artificial. Within minutes, however, she transforms. The audience can sense her delight and enthusiasm and genuine happiness as she is “brought to life”. Then her emotional state changes yet again due to what the man decides to do (not going to go into detail as to not spoil). Then again as the conflict resolves you can again sense a different emotion from her expressions. If you are not convinced that the emotion is coming from the facial expression but rather the voice acting, try watching the video again without audio.

Quantic accomplished this masterpiece using the same technology they used for “The Casting” demo–Motion Capture. However, there is one major difference–number of takes. Quantic felt that using two separate session for each body motion capture and facial motion capture (with voice) really didn’t bring out the best of the performance. Sometimes the acting would feel disjoint. It was more difficult for the performers too because they had to be conscious of their other acting. Quantic invested heavily to build a studio that is capable of capturing the facial and body motion capture at the same time. This allows the performers to “perform” naturally as they normally would for theater. With this advancement, the video games have come even closer to replicating the fine delicacies of a quality performance in the most natural way possible.


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