Why Uncharted 3 Isn’t Using Facial Motion Capture

Why Uncharted 3 Isn’t Using Facial Motion Capture

With some big-budget games with strong narratives—L.A. Noire, Resistance 3—now using facial motion capture to add depth to their characters and dramatic impact to their scenes, it’s somewhat noteworthy that Uncharted 3 isn’t. There’s a reason for that, though.

“It gives us more flexibility to pick the best physical performances and the best audio performances and put them together,” Naughty Dog’s Josh Scheer told a packed audience at Comic-Con’s Uncharted 3 panel yesterday.

Following the filming of a sequence, the crew then would sometimes call for “isolation” audio recording of lines or other voice work. For example, “exertion,” in which the cast took turns supplying grunts for a sequence in which all three remove a well covering. Without facial capture, this can be matched to the action more fluidly in post-production.

Scenes still are filmed with all cast members present and acting together, using props that, in a behind-the-scenes video shown at the panel, look downright silly. Richard McGonagle (greeted with hearty a “goddamn!”) chews on a highlighter when he plays the cigar-chomping (and goddamn-saying) Sully. A couple of orange sticks served as shotguns. A piece of plastic that looked like a film reel canister was a precious artifact.

“But it’s not a piece of plastic in here,” McGonagle said. He and cast members Nolan North (Nathan Drake) and Emily Rose (Elena Fisher) said that filming the scenes together not only built camaraderie and enabled more authentic interactions, they allowed writer Amy Hennig and the producers to tinker with the scenes and offer rewrites on the spot.


  • good, i mean, i liked how realistic LA noires faces looked, but they looked too good, and loked weird in a game, and distracted me

      • The problem with LA oire is that resources were taken away from creating realistic body movements to enhance the facial animation. It’s a fairly common complaint about LA Noire, I thought it was kind of weird myself that the faces looked so fantastic while the body movements and gestures looked like someone had rushed them the day before discs were being pressed.

    • Agreed, considering uncharted uses a bit of an art style over outright photo realism it would be jarring (dare I say uncanny valley) to have perfect facial expression against a stylalised backdrop.

  • Why did he have to dress it up in such random PR talk? Just say the obvious “It’s too damn expensive and doesn’t have that great an effect, and those resources are better spent on parts of the game people actually care about” god game devs have become such spin doctors now.

    • Or he could of said that heads with facial motion capture attached to bodies with normal motion capture looks a bit crap, especially for action-based cut scenes.

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