Week 12

The great event of the week was the session of Motion Capture bodies which took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Tony and I had been working for over two months on its preparation, between casting and designing the animations. The main difficulty was the design of the Bare Hands combat animations in accordance with Game Play. The greatest piece of luck we had was to obtain top quality casting: a Taekwondo world champion (Pascal Gentil), a women's Jiu-Jitsu world vice-champion (Min Min Ngo), a gymnast from the French team (Sebastien Goldschmid) and a Chinese Kung Fu champion (Ken Chung). They were all absolutely perfect, executing top level movements with an exemplary kindness and professionalism. Seeing the images of the filming, the animations of fighting in Omikron are at the level of those of Tekken 3. They are as spectacular and original as could be hoped for and, as well, there is an impressive quantity of them (over 400 different ones, all in Motion Capture).
On the technical level, the difficulty will be just as great in the handling of the animations. Optical Motion Capture consists in placing eight infrared cameras around a character tagged with self-adhesive pastilles reflecting the light in the direction they receive it. The computer records the movement of the illuminated points which must then be assigned to a 3-D skeleton. The toughest is to handle animations in which the sensors disappear (when a character rolls on the ground, for example). The other main problem is when two characters grasp each other to make a hold. The sensors of one get mixed up with those of the other in the camera's eyes. One of the greatest difficulties will certainly be the animations in which one character sends the other crashing against a wall, a sequence involving all the possible difficulties (two characters on screen in a hold, disappearance of sensors, collision with a wall, masking of two cameras out of eight).

Whilst we are completely satisfied with the quality of the animations, the toughest remains to be done : the Game Play. I'm not fooling myself : I'm quite aware that even having animations of the level of Tekken, what will make the difference is the way in which they are integrated and made usable by the player. We are going to be working very hard in the coming months.
But I've got a few ideas about this...

The other great event is the integration of our new system of light management, foreseen in our milestone for this month. Antoine has been working hard on it for a month and a half, with the help of Hakim and Fabien. We now have an infinity of lights in the city, each casting a shadow. The character is lit by passing under a lamp and darkens by moving into shade. The quality of the rendering becomes really impressive. The game in its soft version is beginning to resemble the pre-set images.

See you next week for fresh adventures.

Autor: David Cage
Source: Quantic Dream

11/01/1999 Eidos Interactive ships Omikron: The Nomad Soul
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Week 12 Monday, August 04, 1997

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