L.A. Noire gag reel is hilarious, used to show strengths of MotionScan
A video that features a series of outtakes from LA Noire has been making its way around the Internet, and it’s striking. We’re used to seeing motion capture in games, but seeing actors flub their lines, complete with gibberish noises and funny faces, is exceedingly rare. It takes much time and effort to take someone’s performance and place it into a game in a way that looks natural; few companies are going to take that time, effort, and budget to create this sort of gag reel. So why was it done in this case? Give the video a watch, and we'll explain.Sam Henman was the art lead for cinematics on L.A. Noire, and he put the video together for the game’s 2011 wrap party. It was later published on the page of Depth Analysis, the company that created MotionScan, the process used to animate the faces of L.A. Noire. The video has been acting as a great promotional calling card, as it has been posted and passed around the gaming blogs for the past day or so. The video also took very little effort to put together. “It took Sam about a day to put this reel together so it shows how quickly different MotionScan takes can be put together in the game,” Depth Analysis’ Vicky Lords told the Report. “It’s as simple as changing the ID number for a line.” That ease of use is what makes fun side-projects like this blooper reel possible. It also allows developers who use the process the freedom to really dig into the performances of the actors in their games. Lords described how this worked with L.A. Noire. “Lots of variations of each performance were recorded. An example would be how subtle or unsubtle the actors’ performances were when they were lying,” she explained. “At the start of the game the performances were very overt as no one had seen this type of game mechanic before and then it was made to be harder over time by making the performances much more subtle. The actors generally recorded a bunch of variations for each line so that the team could try and tune the process through testing. The capture process is real time and post processing is done by computer so it’s quick to get variations into the game.” We’ve looked at how much work needs to go into traditional motion capture before it looks real, and Lords claims that MotionScan removes that requirement. “It’s not an animator trying to reproduce an actor’s performance, it’s exactly what they just did. Good or bad. And contrary to opinions posted around the Internet, i'ts significantly cheaper than animating by hand or cleaning up motion capture, which in the end, doesn't look as real,” she claimed. “The process has improved a great deal since L.A.Noire and is significantly more friendly for existing game art pipelines. The Whore of the Orient will feature 4k resolution for MotionScan capture and we are really looking forward to revealing some of that.” It's not just a matter of creating tools that make it possible to bring human performances to games; the best outcomes will happen when those tools are easy to use and fast to implement. MotionScan isn't just effective, the tool makes it possible for content creators to have fun with the performances in their spare time. Let's hope we see more of this sort of silly thing in the future.