Hellblade is a game being made by a tiny team on a tiny budget. The development team is just 13 people, which is astonishing for a game of this scale. Not only that but developer Ninja Theory is also testing out something called ‘independent AAA‘ which will prove that small, independent teams can create a high quality game all by themselves; no publisher backing needed.
The problem with this is that if they want Hellblade to be the best that it can be, Ninja Theory is going to have to find solutions without spending too much money. Specifically, performance capture. How do you put someone’s body and voice into a game when all you’ve got to work with are a couple of GoPro cameras and a prayer? In the latest Hellblade developer diary, NT answers that very question.
Hellblade Dev Diary – Performance Capture
Ninja Theory explains that they are big fans of performance capture, having used it way back when on (PS3 launch title) Heavenly Sword. Not many games use performance capture though, choosing to either record everything separately or to use motion capture bodies and CGI heads. Sticking to their guns, the developer initially began to use GoPro cameras (what singer and sports types use to film their work) on a rig to get data about their performer’s body in relation to the rest of the room. Unfortunately, that didn’t provide them with enough useful information.
The folks over at Vicon (a UK-based animation and motion capture company) sent them over a few of their ‘Bonita’ cameras, results which are as good as anything they’ve done on a big budget, says Ninja Theory. Then, using an LED light, a head rig, photogrammetry (making a 3D model from several photographs) and a plant pot (a light in a plant pot to capture facial details like pores and wrinkles), the developer had made a DIY solution to their Hellblade performance troubles.
As for Hellblade‘s voicework, Ninja Theory’s product development manager Dominic Matthews explains that they rented a wireless recording system and captured some audio at their studio. Admittedly, the audio recording room isn’t soundproof but judging by the footage at the end of that dev diary (a work in progress clip of all of the game’s performance, audio and animation together) they seem to be getting on just fine without it.
Hellblade will be released on PC and PS4 later in 2015.