Here’s something I never thought of when playing LA Noire. Whatever its other merits and failings, the stuff it does with facial animation and performance capture was amazing, and something the whole industry can benefit from presuming it’s not drowning in a thousand million unbreakable patents (which it probably is). However, all it was being used for was to, essentially, just achieve a slightly better version of something games and especially their cutscenes already did. We can find rehearsed, scripted dialogue and, to wildly varying degrees, attendant facial emotion and animation, all over the place. What we can’t find is naturalistic, unrehearsed performances – people being people, as opposed to be people being videogame characters. Take a look at this to see how big the difference can be.
This ‘blooper reel’, in which the LA Noire tech captures actors fluffing their lines, corpsing and nattering amongst themselves as eerily accurately as it did their intoning the game’s rather more po-faced and contained script, is fascinating, infectious and convincing stuff. This is people, not actors, and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen games do that before. Imagine this, in a game. Real smiles, real laughter, real embarrassment, real mouth-fart noises.
Amazing. If this tech only winds up being used for more self-regarding GTA scripts, it’ll be a techno-tragedy.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in.