Kevin Grow, Cinematics Director at Insomniac Games, talks about the animation pipeline for Resistance 3:
The use of motion capture in our animation pipeline became a necessity during Resistance 2, so when we were in preproduction on Resistance 3 one of the first things we explored was a motion capture solution that we could have onsite to get animation into our game faster. However, we have limited office space at Insomniac so it would be difficult for us to allocate a space for a traditional optical set up. This led us to explore the Xsens MVN inertial motion capture suit.
We were immediately drawn to the many advantages the system presented to us. First, the turnaround time from capturing the motions to having them running in our engine is incredible. This was a huge win for us during the late stages of production when we were focused on inhabiting Haven, the home you wake up at the beginning of Resistance 3. It was important for the world we wanted to establish to feel lived in. An entire town had moved underground and despite being in hiding, needed to carry on its daily life. While we had some of the character vignettes outlined in the script, we saw opportunities to further flesh out the world and wanted to push our engine with as many characters as it could handle to really immerse the player in this underground society. With the Xsens MVN system, as soon as we had a great idea for another vignette we could put the suit on that morning, begin editing the data as soon as we finished shooting, and have it running on our character models in engine that afternoon. Many of the inhabitants you encounter during the first 10 minutes of Resistance 3 are using animations captured with Xsens MVN.
Another huge advantage of the system is its portability. One of the main reasons we wanted to find an in house solution to motion capture was so that we could pre-visualize our cinematics before we committed ourselves to optical capture. That we would could have cinematics playing during the game earlier in production to get a better feel to how the transitions felt and remain flexible to story changes as the usual iteration to video game development took course. With the Xsens MVN system, we had the flexibility to go wherever we wanted to shoot. If we needed a park to take advantage of monkey bars to climb or hang from, we could go there. If we needed a hillside for our character to traverse up or down, we could find one. Capturing a similar animation on an optical stage would be impossible. Rather than be limited to what you could try to build on a stage, and wait for it to be built, we could just hop in our cars and go find it. Having our cinematics previsualized was a huge win for us, as it let us be more efficient with our final capture, providing a blueprint to show the actors and make sure that we were using every second on stage efficiently. We could plan for props and set pieces and provide marks for the actors before the shoot began. We could also identify characters or shots where we were satisfied with the motion capture we got in the previs and not waste time reshooting it on the optical stage. A huge win for us as it enabled us to cut costs by limiting our shooting days to just the key performances.
The Xsens MVN system was a phenomenal resource for us to get motion capture into Resistance 3 faster than we’ve been able to in previous titles. We continue to take advantage of its strengths during production of Overstrike.