MachineGames’ Henrik Håkansson explains motion capture in games and how it was used in Wolfenstein: Youngblood

In a recent interview, MachineGames’ Henrik Håkansson explained how developers use motion capture technology in video games. Specifically, Håkansson touched on how the technology was applied during the development of Wolfenstein: Youngblood. Motion capture has been used more and more often recently in video games and is a mainstay of cinema including movies like Planet of the Apes and Lord of the Rings.

As Håkansson explains, “Motion capture is, “the movement of an actor or stunt person transferred to a digital character.” In Youngblood, actors wore, “a full-body motion capture suit” and MachineGames “attached reflective markers to each joint and the mocap cameras recorded the movement of the actor.”

Motion capture isn’t just about capturing the actor’s movements though. The process is alternately called performance capture as the actor’s movements, facial expressions and voice acting are all recorded.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Due to the complex nature of motion and performance capture, Håkansson gave a high-level overview of the process.

“We receive a script, which we break down into animations. The breakdown produces a shoot list. Before bringing in the performers we block out (act out) each scene ourselves.

“We do this to identify problems early in the process. The blocking videos are then used in rehearsals with the performers. Normally we have one day of rehearsal for two days of shooting. The rehearsals are also filmed and used during the actual shoot so we can remember what was decided during rehearsal sessions. “

To actually record a motion capture session requires a range of different professionals. This includes, “the director and actors, the mocap crew, the craft service team, the coordinators, the line producer, the prop master” and more. Håkansson stresses that it takes a village to complete this process;

Without all the professionals we would never make it to the high level that is expected of us. We need them all to make the game experience as entertaining and fun as we possibly can for the gamers.

While motion capture is recorded for both pre-recorded cutscenes and in-game animations, there are different levels required. As Håkansson explains, “Gameplay animations normally don’t have dialogue; hence, we don’t record the voice and face.

“The gameplay animations usually don’t require extensive sets. So, the process is faster and simpler when it comes to the actual recording of the gameplay animations.”

However, during a capture session, MachineGames will “record the entire performance of the actors. The voice, face, body and the props.” Håkansson also revealed that the motion capture actors perform together on the stage.

For Håkansson, the most memorable moments in creating Wolfenstein: Youngblood are “when the script come to life right in front of your eyes. It’s one thing reading the script and imagining the scenes, but when the actors perform the scenes is when the script comes to life for real.”

Wolfenstein: Youngblood is available now.

Leo Stevenson
Leo Stevenson
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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