Beyond: Two Souls is the biggest motion capture project ever made

By Dave Cook
21 March 2013 14:00 GMT

Beyond: Two Souls creator David Cage has explained why Quantic Dream’s PS3 adventure game is the largest motion capture project ever attempted.

VG247 attended a Beyond: Two Souls hands-on session in Paris this week, and as part of a presentation from Cage, the developer discussed how the team was able to produce such accurate, realistic depictions of the game’s actors in each scene.

He said that rather than have his actors wearing big clumsy mo-cap suits with wires and cameras attached, he wanted them to be free to express themselves without feeling lumbered.

“We wanted them to have nothing except this mo-cap suit,” Cage explained, “so they have 18 markers – these shiny balls – on the body, and about 90 little dots on the face. No wires, the sound is directly captured, it’s not done in post-production. it’s all captured on set at the same time.

“So we have an entire, consistent capture of the performance, which is something that has never been done in a videogame before, as that level. It’s also the largest performance capture project ever made as far as we know.

“It’s about twelve months of shooting, more than 300 characters in the game, and it’s about 23,000 unique animations. That’s a number that is totally, absolutely insane. We realised that afterwards unfortunately, but that was really a crazy amount of work.”

The amount of dedication put into Beyond’s motion-capture was geared towards making every animation feel unique, because stock motions in most games – such as opening a door – can often feel out of context.

“Games really like moves and patterns and things that are repetitive,” Cage continued, “so usually they have a bank of animations that they re-use all through the game, which works very well in the context of an action game.

“It doesn’t work at all in the context of a narrative-driven experience where you want each action to be unique, you want your character to be able to do zillions of things without any limitation and without repetition. So that means that you need specific animations for every specific action in the game.

“When you open a door in an action game you just open the door, but if you’re a narrative-driven experience opening a door can be done in many different ways. You can be in your apartment and open a door and that’s it, but then you may fear what’s on the other side of the door, and then it’s a different way of opening it.”

what do you think of Beyond’s mo-cap so far? Here’s some footage of Willem Dafoe and a young version of protagonist Jodie Holmes. It’s insanely realistic.

Pat has gone hands-on with Beyond: Two Souls and has written a full appraisal of what he saw here. It even involve a scene that sees you helping to deliver a baby, and cutting the umbilical cord as well, which is surely a first for gaming.

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