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How 3D scanning helped create the face of Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth

If you’ve experienced the first-person shooter Bioshock Infinite, then you probably know that while you play as Booker DeWitt, its actual main character is Elizabeth, your perpetual companion and emotional anchor.

Since the beginning, BioShock creator Ken Levine has stressed that his goal was to make Elizabeth feel like anything but a video game character. And while half of that effort is good writing and voice acting, the other half is good technology: Elizabeth had to look and act real — otherwise, the Bioshock Infinite experience would fall apart.

And pulling that off, as you might expect, takes a lot of work.

“It’s actually amazing how dedicated these game developers are about making their characters as believable as possible,” Anna Zevelyov, the development director at 3D scanner maker Artec, told me.

A similar amount of effort was put into Bioshock Infinite’s technically impressive television commercial, and 3D scanning technology was a part of its production. Using Artec’s EVA scanner, Irrational Games scanned Russian cosplayer Anna Moleva, capturing, processing, and animating her facial expressions.

The result is what you see in this video:

As amazing as all of this is, 3D scanning has been around for decades — so none of this is new. But what is notable is just how cheap 3D scanners are getting.

“Scanners that would have cost $150,000 five years ago are much more affordable today. It’s still not supercheap, but it’s 90 percent cheaper than it used to be,” Zevelyov said.

For game developers — many of whom are cash-strapped and under increasing pressure to perform under strict budgets — this is significant. Expect to see lots applications of 3D scanning as time goes on.

For a good look just how much work went into creating Elizabeth, watch the video below.


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