LGC 2013: Next-gen consoles have caught up with motion capture

LGC 2013: Next-gen consoles have caught up with motion capture
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

November 13th 2013 at 6:20PM

Motion capture expert Vicon says the Xbox One and PS4 are now able to accomplish what people expect from the technology

Xbox One and PS4 can finally do what developers have been trying to with motion capture in the current generation - but that won't last forever.

Phil Elderfield, product manager at Vicon Motion Systems, told attendees at London Games Conference 2013 that expectations would inevitably rise above what the next-generation consoles could achieve.

"The next-gen consoles and the resolution that they promise brings things up to a level where the subtlety that motion capture can provide can be realised properly," he said.

"The current generation pushed expectations beyond what they could handle - and the next-gen will too."

Elderfield observed that the use of motion capture in video games development had become "ubiquitous", and almost expected of every game now. It's a big change, he said, from the technology's original use to capture run and walk cycles more efficiently.

He also said there has been a major shift in how developers are using motion capture. Initially, it was used with productivity in mind - simply providing as many character animations as possible.

But the rising number of motion-captured cutscenes and cinematics shows a change in emphasis.

"It's all about creativity," he said. "Players want to immerse themselves in a story, and that requires a sense of reality."

He also said that face capture is at the centre of this" because so much of human interactions occurs via facial expressions. 

Elderfield also emphasised the importance of full performance capture, not separate face and body captures: "There's a broad agreement that this isn't particularly successful. There are subtle difference between face and body performances that humans can pick up if they weren't captured together.

"It's all about believability, putting gamers in that world."

He concluded with a brief look at the different cameras and systems used for motion capture. The current emphasis is on head-mounted 2D capture cameras, but these can't capture the depth or full performance of the human face. Many people are moving onto using 3D points.

Vicon is currently improving its 3D-based multi-camera face capture system Cara, which has been used in a number of films and the upcoming Infamous: Second Son on PS4.