Those gamers anxious to see what Naughty Dog has been spending their time on were treated to an impressive surprise at this year’s Comic-Con. Seeing any additional footage or details concerning The Last of Us would have gone over well, but those in attendance (and watching at home) were introduced to Bill, yet another compelling survivor in the apocalyptic wasteland the studio has chosen for its backdrop.
Alongside the multiple trailers and reveals brought about at Gamescom 2012, Sony has rolled out a behind the scenes look at the raw motion capture footage that created Bill’s cinematic introduction. If the video gives the impression that the lines between film and games is being blurred, that’s because it absolutely is.
The game’s leads have recently explained how top-tier talent was needed to tell as mature and human a narrative as The Last of Us hopes to, and the footage illustrates that Naughty Dog isn’t kidding around. Casting industry voice veteran Troy Baker to bring protagonist Joel to life, and seasoned voice and and film actress Ashley Johnson (The Help, The Killing) to embody the at-times hotheaded Ellie, the foundation for compelling cut-scenes is already in place.
The explosive introduction of by Bill – played by W. Earl Brown (Deadwood, There’s Something About Mary) – is a good sign of the types of interactions that will keep players on the edge of their seats, and the motion capture footage shows how much of the tension is due to the actors themselves.
At Gamescom, the studio released a making-of video giving a brief idea of the various steps that take moving white dots and recorded voice, and result in some of the best looking cinematic cut-scenes currently available. Take a look:
In case the amount of time, energy, and people required to achieve each one of those steps wasn’t clear, Naughty Dog’s Arne Meyer points out that the finished product is far from a work of computer wizardry:
“High tech cameras record the tracking markers on the mocap suits to capture these performances. Raw mocap data is taken to our team, cleaned up, and then the next step in the cinematic process takes place. Six steps in about a minute. Making game cinematics looks pretty easy, right? What you’ve seen is a time lapse showing over two years of planning, writing, performance, scripting, animation, lighting, and artistry. Then apply more tweaking, more adjusting, and more fine-tuning. And then some more before it ever goes out the door.”
For those who have yet to see the completely finished product, allow us to refresh your memory:
The level of performance – and degree to which it is faithfully maintained in the game itself – won’t come as a surprise to those who have been following the same efforts through the Uncharted series. But what may be most promising is just how much more room for scripted movement and dialogue The Last of Us will contain compared to Naughty Dog’s previous work. What’s been shown of the gameplay so far is far less open-ended and player-controlled than Uncharted, so the footage here may be just one scene out of dozens found in the finished game.
It’s difficult to understand just how much of a challenge video game actors truly face, with their character appearances, clothing, and settings completely non-existent in the real world. Nolan North has long maintained that it is this abundance of freedom that is most refreshing for stage and screen actors, and likely the reason he wishes all triple-A studios use the same technique. With each passing year, and each established actor crossing over to the world of video game performance, it will be interesting to see how the mocap world is perceived from the outside.
The Last of Us is scheduled for a 2013 release on the PS3.
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Source: PlayStation Blog