Animation Technology Behind L.A. Noire Game Draws Attention

  • Depth Analysis is getting high praise for the 3D motion-capture technology it used in rendering facial expressions for the new L.A. Noire video game. The Australia-based company is working to perfect a full-body system that will let film directors “drop” actors into their movies.
  • L.A. Noire is the latest game from the Rockstar Games label (Take-Two Interactive Software). Team Bondi and Depth Analysis have been earning positive reviews for the game’s highly stylized, immersive and cinematic production design (check out the trailer here).
  • Development on the MotionScan 3D motion-capture system, which uses 32 HD cameras positioned at different levels to capture and create a 3D model, began in 2004. The infrastructure, pipeline and capture rig were all developed from scratch.
  • Depth Analysis has found success in realistically recreating the detail of actors’ facial performances for its video game and plans to use it more for capturing full-body performances.
  • The company has also been demonstrating the work-in-progress system to filmmakers. L.A. Noire writer-director Brendan McNamara explains that the appeal of the Depth Analysis system is its ability to drop actors into virtually any setting.
  • For those interested in a visual demonstration, CNET has posted a 6-minute GameSpot interview with Oliver Bao, head of R&D for Depth Analysis.
  • According to Bao (in an AWN interview last week): “We’ve managed to reproduce lifelike performances of actors. Getting the data compressed to fit game discs and render back at decent speed and quality have been reasons why this was not possible before. We’ve demonstrated that what you see is what you get; actors have their performances reproduced faithfully to the point that you can lip read what they’re saying in L.A. Noire. This is the first time we’ve allowed gamers to be able to enjoy believable acting on a console.”