The 2012 Game Developers Conference is in full swing right now, with video game companies clamoring to show off their newest tech. But while there are plenty of impressive demos of the latest in graphics software, none have stood out quite as much as Quantic Dream's short film showing off its innovative motion capture technology. Aside from an expertly crafted narrative, the seven-minute video, titled KARA, shows one of the most powerful performances from a virtual character to date, which is even more extraordinary given the fact that each jaw-dropping frame is rendered in real-time on a PlayStation 3.
It probably shouldn't be that surprising for a developer like Quantic Dream to demonstrate its new tech in the form of a narrative. After all, this is the same company that's made a name for itself with firmly story-driven titles like Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy (also know as Fahrenheit outside North America). KARA tells the brief but dramatic story of a futuristic android being tested before it is shipped to retail, when things take a decidedly Asimov-ian twist.
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At the heart of the video though is Quantic's new motion capture technology, that seeks to record an actor's entire performance in one go. Even recent titles that touted their motion capture, like LA Noire, still required separate acting sessions: one for body motion and another for facial and voice acting. Having an actor pantomime their facial expressions for actions that they aren't actually performing isn't always going to look quite right once its matched to a body.
After using that method for Heavy Rain, Quantic knew it needed a more accurate way to capture a performance, which is how KARA first came about. The company built a new 3D engine from scratch and increased the number of motion capture cameras used in their studio from 28 to 64. Amazingly, the video was rendered in real-time using just a PS3 running the new graphics engine. Considering the captivating performance of the virtual KARA - who is also the only on-screen character - the technology seems to worki very well.
However, as impressive as the visuals in KARA are, what the video shows is actually the first version of Quantic Dream's engine, which is a year old. Speaking with PlayStation Blog, writer/director David Cage confirmed that future games will look even better:
"Definitely there's going to be a big gap between KARA and the next titles that we'll announce ... We thought that we did a lot in matter of technology and visuals with Heavy Rain, but the more we work on the PlayStation 3, the more we realize that there's much more to the hardware. It's really incredibly powerful, and I think people will be surprised by what we can still do with it."
Sadly, Quantic Dream has been very clear that KARA is merely a video demonstration and not a game currently in progress.
Definitely be sure to check out KARA below, as well as a video interview with Quantic Dream writer/director David Cage about what went into making it, which follows underneath.
Source: Playstation BlogView gallery - 4 images