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L.A. Noire’s Pioneering Motion Capture Draws 'Line In The Sand' For Animation

Rockstar's forthcoming L.A. Noire pioneers new motion capture techniques in which actors are filmed without markers, the results of which draw a "line in the sand" for animation, according to the game's director.
Rockstar's forthcoming L.A. Noire pioneers new motion capture techniques in which actors are filmed without markers, the results of which draw a "line in the sand" for animation, according to the game's director. Speaking to Game Informer magazine, Brendan McNamara said: "I’d been doing some research in the UK for a number of years on how you could do capture without markers. What we wanted to do was capture the exterior of people instead of the bones." "What we have here is the final end of that process, where you put an actor in the chair and as we record it’s instantly turned into 3D. We think it’s pretty significant," he said. The new motion capture technique required developer Team Bondi to create a 200-terabyte capture unit in Australia in order to house the raw data. L.A. Noire is the first game to use new MotionScan motion capture technology from Sydney, Australia-based Depth Capture. McNamara claims that the technique eliminates the "uncanny valley" effect, in which viewers are repulsed by 3D characters that almost replicate the realities of human behavior and likeness, but fall just short. "The whole uncanny valley thing is out the window," he said, "because you can see people in the game and literally lip-read what they say." "Even the [games] I look at now that are great, there’s something about [the characters] that makes me think of a goldfish," he said. "You have a million years of evolution that tells you how to read faces, so you just have to see one thing and it throws you off." "With this game, it’s a line in the sand – before and after. That’s what it feels like to me. We used to do that; now we do this. In the end, we want you to interact with this and you don’t even ask the question ‘Is this real or not?’" Rockstar Games confirmed last week -- alongside a debut trailer -- that the long-delayed crime drama would be coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in Spring 2011.

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