The DepthAnalysis’ Motion Scan technology used for L.A. Noire uses 32 HD cameras that capture all the details of an actors head from various angles, resulting in some of the best facial animation seen in a game to date. Heavy Rain creator David Cage, however, is less impressed.
“What to say about L.A Noire I think it’s an interesting solution to a problem for now, said Cage. “But it’s also an interesting dead end. That’s exactly what I feel. Their technique is incredibly expensive and they will never be able to shoot body and face at the same time.”
“We are doing that now [at Quantic], and our next games will be shot with performance capture,” he explained. “We see a huge difference between shooting the face and body separately and shooting everything at the same time. Suddenly you’ve got a real sense of acting that is consistent. You can’t imagine how related what you say with your face is to what your body does.”
“[Those using MotionScan] will never be able to do that. The other thing is that they can’t have real time lighting,” he added. “Their technique means they can’t have lighting the way I think we should do it. Basically, they take pictures; they take scans several times per frame. They also have limitations on the shaders they use, they can’t re-target the eyes because they eyes are captured. When you have actors in real time you like to to re-target the eyes to make sure they look at each other [convincingly] etc. etc.”
“It’s a list of important problems that cannot be solved with their technology. I think L.A Noire looks good – honestly, it does – but I don’t think they’ll go much further than where they are. With the technology we use, we can improve; there is a lot of room for improvement and we hope to show very soon where we are now. We’ve made significant progress since Heavy Rain and will continue to make progress until we reach the stage of Avatar. That is probably three, four five years from now.”
When asked if this meant that photo-realistic graphics were coming soon, he said, “Yes. Four or five years. Maybe it’s going to require a new [gaming] platform, but when you look at where real-time is right now, it’s probably where CG was five, six years ago. You can say there’s a five-year gap between CG and real time. Avatar was released last year, so that’s where we should be in five, six years from now.”