Command & Conquer Remastered will AI-upscale original FMV cutscenes

By Sherif Saed, Friday, 6 March 2020 12:31 GMT

The journey to remaster original Command & Conquer live-action cutscenes has been a wild one.

EA posted an update on the development of Command & Conquer Remastered. The subject this time revolves entirely around the original game’s live-action (FMV) cutscenes.

As you might imagine, the quality, resolution and compression of the original videos make representing them in the remaster complicated. Unlike game assets, developers couldn’t just re-shoot new footage. Producer Jim Vessella decided to track down the original tapes, to see if they could pull from an uncompressed source.

Unfortunately, EA couldn’t locate those 20-plus-years old tapes, initially believing them to have been destroyed. But, as luck would have it, a prudent admin worker intercepted them at the time and sent them to be stored at a different location. The tapes ended up at EA LA’s offices.

Despite the effort to retrieve the tapes, as well as digitise them to work with modern computers, Vessella and co. found out that they actually do not include raw footage at higher resolutions, just a different copy of what’s already in the games.

Faced with an impasse, Vessella and the team (with the help of some in the community) decided to instead build an AI algorithm that upscales the resolution of the footage and increases the framerate to 30fps. Legendary composer Frank Klepacki then remastered the audio to improve the overall quality of the presentation. This is what will end up being used in the remaster.

In the video above, Vessella tells the full story and shows some before-and-after footage of the cutscenes. It’s all fascinating, even if it seems like this project may not have the biggest budget in the world.

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