In the decade-plus I’ve been working with motion capture, it’s been amazing to see how it has become an essential part of game development. In the past, a motion capture shoot that involved two to three actors piling on top of each other required a lot of time and effort to get the scene properly cleaned and animated. Today, you can capture 19 people without skipping a beat. It used to be that capturing four actors in real time and seeing everything almost ready for animation would have been unheard of, but that’s something studios today can do.

I had the opportunity to return as a panel speaker at the recent External Development Summit (XDS), the only international games industry event with a primary focus on external development for art, animation, and more. The hot topic of discussion there was the other side of the story — we were asked what we, as service providers, wanted to tell game developers. I said: it’s mutually beneficial for both sides to be involved in the beginning, post production and the feedback and postmortem so that projects can be properly done. We’re moving away from the days where outsourcers were seen as almost a black box for animation projects.

Directors are now able to see the animated environment they create and direct the actors as the characters, as if it’s live action. This is great for the gaming industry because, in a world where faster, better and more is in high demand, motion capture is making sure it remains a viable solution to a game development team. And that’s just the technology!

When I began Animation Vertigo in 2004, the idea of outsourcing was pretty basic and completely service-oriented. Today, the idea of outsourcing is changing into an external development co-development or partnership that seeks to grow efficient businesses and avoid falling behind in the industry. Here are the benefits that come with external development in motion capture technology:

  • Lower operational and labor costs are the most obvious and significant reasons to outsource. In terms of external development, when properly executed, it has a defining impact on a company’s revenue recognition for longer terms and can deliver significant savings as pipelines and processes are integrated and shared.
  • You’ll be able to focus on the future growth of the company and lean on your internal team and development partner to handle necessary functions of your pipeline. This will give you the opportunity to grow your business and maintain or even gain momentum in this ever-changing industry.
  • The ability to leverage a global knowledge base ensures that your company will never fall behind. One of the big things with external development is that it enables you to tap into a broad knowledge base and access world-class expertise. Rest assured that you’re working with a professional, bonded, insured service provider firm with secure technology and high level of experience.
  • Gaining access to new resources keeps your company on the cutting edge of technology. My team of artists is able to tap into local resources that Animation Vertigo wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.
  • Expand and gain access to new market areas by capitalizing on your outsourced location. This makes your point of production closer to end-users.

Understanding the current trend of co-partnerships and true collaboration for external development partners as a direction to go when talking about establishing a smooth and viable pipeline is something I truly believe in.

The future of motion capture looks even better. The quality of video games has improved greatly due to recent advancements in motion capture. A growing trend in the motion capture industry is real time motion in game engine. There are very few companies that have been successful in creating this seamless integration and it’s amazing when you see it happen. Performance capture has become a standard where body, face and audio are all shot at the same time. Animation, especially in cinematics, is essential now, because of the high expectations for breathtaking cinematic animation in a video game to be as good as that in feature films. We’re really seeing a crossover in this!

The desire for beautiful and fast animation continues to be a goal, and motion capture is integrating into that world really quickly. This means we will be seeing more collaborations and partnerships for teams like ours at Animation Vertigo, where we continue to grow with our partner clients, learn and train in new technologies and software and be a more integral part in the pipeline to meet the gaming consumers’ more demanding expectations.

 

Filipino-American businesswoman Marla De Castro Rausch founded Animation Vertigo more than a decade ago.

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