Uncharted 3's Nolan North on LA Noire

Does the motion capture shape up?

Uncharted 3 developer Naughty Dog, and the actor that portrays Nathan Drake, Nolan North, have given their opinions on the lauded facial animation system used by Team Bondi to create L.A. Noire.

Richard Lemarchand, co-lead game designer of Uncharted 3, admitted he was "taken aback" by the technology.

"We've been working so hard on Uncharted 3 this summer that my game playing has sadly fallen away. I did have some friends around and we looked at the first hour of L.A. Noire and I've got to say that I was really taken aback by that facial capture technology," said Lemarchand, speaking at the Eurogamer Expo 2011 today.

When asked for his opinion on the stationary requirement of the facial capture, North said: "That would be incredibly inhibitive.

"I've talked to some of the actors who've done it. You literally, especially for L.A. Noire, can't move.

Lemarchand added: "And you also can't riff off the other actors."

"More so," Nolan North responded. "You have to stay still. It'd be very, very difficult.

"I've done a lot of things where they put the little markers on your face. And if I sit there and [rubs hand on forehead]. We can't do that. Cut, stop, redo your face. They don't want you to put [your hands] in front of you.

"Imagine doing a very tender scene," North went on, describing a scene with Nathan Drake and Elena, "with an [American] football helmet on; you can't give her any type of kiss, any intimacy - it's not going to happen."

Naughty Dog's approach to animation has been to suit the actors up, video, and mo-cap, their full performance. The animators then "finesse" the mo-cap footage and build a facial performance based on what they see on the video.

It's worked pretty well in the past.

"We've been relying on these brilliant animators," said Nolan North. "They've got it down to a science. And thank god, because the performance becomes much more organic. Much more real."

Lemarchand went on: "Whenever we talk to people about the creative choices we've made - in terms of the way we handle story. A game like Grand Theft Auto handles story quite differently to the way that Uncharted does..."

"Yes," Nolan North interjected, "Nathan doesn't beat up hookers."

"... it just shows that in this amazing, emerging form that is video games," Lemarchand continued, "there's room for an enormous breadth of creative choices in the way you do things, and you can get great results in lots of different ways."

Richard Lemarchand demonstrated, world exclusively, brand new gameplay footage of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception during the Eurogamer Expo 2011. To hear Nolan North ad-libbing, live, over the top, was memorable to say the least.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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