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The Game Production Handbook, 2nd Edition by Heather Maxwell Chandler

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MOTION CAPTURE
In This Chapter
Planning for Motion Capture
Working with a Motion Capture Studio
Preparing for a Motion Capture Shoot
Motion Capture Checklist
12.1 I
NTRODUCTION
I
f you are working on a game where the character motions are highly vis-
ible to the player and important to the overall look and feel of the game,
you might want to consider using motion capture as part of the character
animation process. With motion capture, actual motions from humans, animals,
or even objects can be recorded and implemented in the game for a more real-
istic and natural effect. Also, as technology advances, players expect to see game
characters moving and behaving in a realistic fashion.
Motion capture must be planned for well advance so that the animators have
time to clean up the motion capture data and get the animations working cor-
rectly in the game. Based on the amount of motions captured and the number
of animators working on the project, this can be several months of work, but
well worth the effort for the end result. If you are planning to use motion cap-
ture, determine the needs in pre-production. As with any other project, planning
and organization are the keys to success. This chapter presents a general over-
view, from the producer’s point of view, of how to plan a motion capture shoot.
Chapter 12Chapter 12
196 THE GAME PRODUCTION HANDBOOK, 2/E
For more detailed information on this topic, please refer to The Animator’s
Motion Capture Guide by Matt Liverman.
12.2 PLANNING FOR MOTION CAPTURE
The lead artist and animator are heavily involved in the motion capture (mocap)
process, as they are the ones who know what the animation needs are and are
responsible for getting the animations implemented in the game. The producer
will work with them to find a vendor and plan the session.
To begin with, the animator will need to make a master list of all the anima-
tions required for the game. This includes how the characters walk, run, pick up
items, hold items, crouch, lay down, spin around, and any other movements seen
in the game. The animator then decides which animations he can create from
scratch and which animations will be based on motion capture. The advantage of
animating something by hand is that an unusual movement can be created that
a real person wouldn’t actually be able to do. Also, it might be faster to create
a good-looking animation from scratch than to edit motion capture data to get
the same effect. The disadvantages of animating something from scratch is that
movements might not seem very natural or realistic, especially if the character is
engaging in a common activity such as walking.
One of the biggest advantages of using motion capture is to create these
realistic motions. If an actual person is recorded walking from one end of the
room to the other, several small characteristics, such as gait, arm movement, and
head movement are difficult to include in an animation created from scratch.
Of course, one of the disadvantages to motion capture is cost. It can be expensive
to capture motions for the game, especially if thousands are needed.
PREPARING FOR MOTION CAPTURE SHOOTS
Stuart Roch, Executive Producer
Activision
When preparing for mocap, the most important thing a producer can do is
get started on the organization early. You will need to contact and visit a couple of
mocap studios to not only find the best possible deal, but also make sure that the
technology suits your project’s particular needs, that the mocap team personality fits
with that of your team, and that you find a studio that stands a good chance of being

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