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UNCHARTED 3: A Peek Behind the Digital Curtain

Sid Shuman's Avatar + Posted by Sid Shuman on May 20, 2011 // Senior Manager, Social Media

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The blockbuster success of James Cameron’s Avatar proved what many gamers and game developers already knew: Motion capture is the future of performance. The film’s groundbreaking use of mocap technology caught the attention of Hollywood and the game industry, raising interest in perfecting the nascent craft with a combination of new technology, refined processes, and good old-fashioned acting chops.

”We’ve developed a unique process for motion capture and performance capture for games,” UNCHARTED 3 Creative Director Amy Hennig explained during a recent tour of Naughty Dog’s cutting-edge new mocap studio in Culver City, California. “We’re kind of ahead of the pack.” Hennig described the evolution of the UNCHARTED series’ motion capture technology, beginning with the humble stage used to record UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune. It was an outdated, uncomfortable place to perform, equipped with a camera array that painted the room with eye-searing red light. And its poor acoustics made dialog recording impossible, so in-game speech had to be added later.

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

“We cast very carefully, that’s step one in any project. If you cast hastily or badly, you’re screwed forever. If you cast well, you can write any piece of crap and they’ll make it sound wonderful. Trust me, I’ve done it!”
— Amy Hennig, Creative Director, UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception

Following UNCHARTED’s breakout success, Naughty Dog upgraded to the vastly more sophisticated facilities at the House of Moves for UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves, a game that further strained the boundaries of cinematic game storytelling. The House of Moves facilities featured an integrated sound stage that enabled Naughty Dog’s team to record dialog while simultaneously capturing the actor’s physical performances — a then-unheard of process that is quickly becoming the gold standard for video-game performances.

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture SceneUNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

An array of 86 infra-red cameras capture the actors’ physical performances with eerie precision. The studio’s integrated soundstage lets the actors deliver their lines seamlessly along with their movements.

Now, with UNCHARTED 3: Drake’s Deception, the team is shooting on its very own cutting-edge mocap set, the culmination of years of pioneering experimentation in game storytelling. Though the sets and props are largely virtual, Hennig and her team make frequent comparisons to shooting for television. “We don’t have the luxury of writing a big script in an ivory tower,” she explained. “We have an outline that we work from and we write the scenes as we go.” That looser approach gives Hennig and her storytelling team the flexibility to adapt to script changes or make tweaks based on a performer’s strengths. “As the writer, I get to learn the actor’s voices — their cadences, their idiosyncrasies, and I write them right in,” Hennig said. “Their characters become infused with their personalities.”

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

UNCHARTED 3’s high-tech motion capture process converts the actor’s movements into 3D datam which displays in real time over a simple approximation of the game environment. Later, animators and artists adjust the mocap data and drop it into the final game.

Actor Nolan North — who performs as series frontman Nathan Drake but also boasts an impressive resume of film, TV, animation and game performance work — raved about working with Hennig’s team on the UNCHARTED series. “I find that movie stars aren’t that interested in doing games, but actors are. There is a freedom and a beauty of doing this that’s like going back to the roots of black-box theater. It’s collaborative; it’s the true actor experience.” North also pointed out a rapid shift in the perception of video game performances among actors. “It’s changed. I know people who used to do video games and told me, ‘oh, eventually you’ll move on to animation.’ And now they’re trying to get back into games!”

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

“This might surprise some people, but we don’t just play Drake and Sully. Sometimes I’m mocapping the guy whose neck I’m breaking! Sometimes we play as the bad guys…in UNCHARTED 2’s train sequence, you’ll notice that one soldier runs with a bit of a limp. That’s me, chasing me, and getting blown up by propane tanks.”
— Nolan North (as Nathan Drake)

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture SceneUNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

This humble array of sandbags and carpentry will be transformed into a realistic vehicle in the digital world of UNCHARTED 3. (Right) Naughty Dog pioneered the process of capturing motion and dialog simultaneously for video game performances, eliminating the disjointed feel found in some other game performances.

UNCHARTED 3: Drake's Deception - Motion Capture Scene

“Amy writes a great script. It’s like a strong tree, and we just branch from it,” Nolan North says. “If you let actors go too much with ad-libbing, when you don’t have a strong story structure, it becomes a mess. We do our thing, and then Naughty Dog takes it and makes magic.”

//Add Your Own

348 Comments   15 Replies

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101

+ Darewind on May 20th, 2011 at 5:59 pm said:

I appreciate things like this as I am always interested in the steps creators take to make the games I enjoy so much but I can’t bring myself to watch things like this until after I play it. As it makes the experience less immersive for me as I will see a certain sequence and just spend the whole time thinking “hmm so they did x and y to make this”.Which is probably why I am a sucker for director’s commentary on games and in movies during my second time through.I would love for the team to add this as a special features to the game disc or as a preorder bonus etc.


102

+ djpaetkau on May 20th, 2011 at 6:08 pm said:

There’s been a lot of talk about UC3 being about Drake and Sully’s relationship, so I wasn’t surprised to see Nolan and Richard in the studio, but I was hoping Naughty Dog might give us a quick glimpse of Emily Rose to confirm Elena will be back as well. Guess I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled for future updates!


103

+ station3fever on May 20th, 2011 at 6:24 pm said:

i got goose bumps :)


104

+ AUG209 on May 20th, 2011 at 6:31 pm said:

C’MON SONY THE CLIP DIDNT REALLY SHOW ANYTHING…. HOW MUCH LONGER TIL THE STORE OPENS? RUMOURS SAY THIS TUESDAY, ANY TRUTH TO THAT?


105

+ daxter1100 on May 20th, 2011 at 6:34 pm said:

any word when the store will be back up


106

+ FRA1Z3R on May 20th, 2011 at 6:35 pm said:

Here is a link to the whole video that those clips came from… Almost like a behind the scenes part 2.
http://www.eurogamer.net/videos/the-egtv-show-uncharted-3-the-mo-cap-sessions


107

+ WeatherMan on May 20th, 2011 at 6:52 pm said:

The store will be up when it comes up I tired of reading post (will the store be back up) popping up on the topic of games. I want the store to come up just as bad as every one else I have bought MK, portals2, Socom 4, Brink, and Motostorm I have DLC to every one of them and you don’t see me going on every topic asking when it will come back. Please have some patiences It not like its a light switch and you can turn back on. especially after has been beaten with a baseball bat.


108

+ Spursfann on May 20th, 2011 at 6:59 pm said:

I LOVE NAUGHTY DOG AND UNCHARTED!!!!!


109

+ Spursfann on May 20th, 2011 at 7:03 pm said:

SOny make 3.62 3.61 freezes alot!!!!!!!


110

+ vvvmauvvvaguila on May 20th, 2011 at 7:14 pm said:

i just want to know when can we download the free games
i want to play infamous please sony hurry up with the pss


111

+ d_mon87 on May 20th, 2011 at 7:17 pm said:

It’s coming.


112

+ JimmyChaos on May 20th, 2011 at 7:21 pm said:

I only saw Nate and Sully. I hope Elena Is in it too! <3 lol …I can't believe I just made a heart…


113

+ ShredinSlash on May 20th, 2011 at 7:34 pm said:

It’s insane to look at the tech now. Feels like yesterday when i decided to pick up U:DF, man was that the best decision of my gaming life. Can’t wait to see the final product of U3, defiantly will pick up a CE/LE if one is released.


114

+ X_x–AQUA–x_X on May 20th, 2011 at 7:43 pm said:

*applauds enthusiastically* Cheer, NAUGHTY(paw)DOG!

This is pretty excited! You are making me anxious to play next Uncharted 3! I feel like 11-1-11 is tomorrow….. N(paw)D is the most my favorite in the world. :)

I didn’t need to be sad if you don’t add Elena or Chloe in it. It’s okay. I wouldn’t mind as long as you are happy. I’m happy too. :)

Cheer up!


115

+ X_x–AQUA–x_X on May 20th, 2011 at 7:47 pm said:

JimmyChaos: You are just too excited. That’s why. :) Good job for making a heart. XD


116

+ rera121989 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:13 pm said:

Is UNCHARTED 3 going to be Move Compatible? and will there be a Bundle?


117

+ RipShred98 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:20 pm said:

feel free to add me if you like uncharted 3 and uncharted 2 multiplayer :)


118

+ I_DJM on May 20th, 2011 at 8:26 pm said:

when can we log back on to naughtdog again can’t wait to see what they have in store for co op


119

+ thebat991 on May 20th, 2011 at 8:49 pm said:

I know I am going to get hate mail for this but I personally am not really caring for this game. U2 didn’t impress me much and the platforming in the game/ controls are horrendous. The multiplayer was poorly created. The only good thing about the game was the acting and graphics. Otherwise, not that exciting. Just my opinion though.


120

+ Jimmy_Cosmos on May 20th, 2011 at 9:09 pm said:

Oh wow let’s talk about a game that’s 5 months away while PS3 owners right now still can’t register online passes for new games to play online, can’t access their download list to redownload games they’ve purchased and can’t redeem any codes for DLC or ANYTHING!! Hello, is anyone home at Sony????????????????


121

+ TheGuardianFID on May 20th, 2011 at 9:15 pm said:

AWESOME, JUST AWESOME!!! 8)


122

+ Rene_Led on May 20th, 2011 at 9:19 pm said:

I want to know if this game will have any special editions. So far I paid off about 1/2 for this game and just started for AC REvelations(may get a Collector’s version). I’d like to know if Uncharted3 would have some special edition since I like the series enough to possibly get a CE of UC3 :)


123

+ P_dump on May 20th, 2011 at 9:47 pm said:

What a great game. I can see the posing of the actors look like the in-game models. Great job guys, I’m very happy so far. This will be my first pre-ordered game.


124

+ MaYiTo_1Jr on May 20th, 2011 at 10:04 pm said:

well all i want to say is thanks sony for the hard work you were doin and for putting back on the ps3 onlineand i cant wait for uncharted 3 that gamr is so cooooooooooooooool cant wait sony n thanks again


125

+ MaYiTo_1Jr on May 20th, 2011 at 10:10 pm said:

again sony thanks for the hard work but when the playstation store gonna be back online or back offline watever i dont care but have it by tommorrow k?


126

+ zerodarkheart on May 20th, 2011 at 10:26 pm said:

so any word when you guys will be back up and running like normal its sucks that you got hacked some ppl are jerks


127

+ RocKeRGRL1212 on May 20th, 2011 at 11:15 pm said:

Bring Uncharted 2 to the playstation store as a digital download whenever the store is back up WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!


128

+ RocKeRGRL1212 on May 20th, 2011 at 11:16 pm said:

I’ll make it my 12th platinum


129

+ Warped on May 20th, 2011 at 11:47 pm said:

Looks like a new improved upgraded mocap suit and cameras, are they using new tool and tech.?


130

+ Warped on May 20th, 2011 at 11:51 pm said:

@remanutd5 #30 looks like there saving those for E3


131

+ davionwalker22 on May 20th, 2011 at 11:59 pm said:

uncharted is the best game ever make and hope they add some new take down killing move :D


132

+ MattDamon20J on May 21st, 2011 at 12:03 am said:

so i just played the the first one last week and was very impressed, I just started the second on it is different at first but then with all the plot twists i can’t get enough. i am very excited for U3


133

+ RocKeRGRL1212 on May 21st, 2011 at 12:11 am said:

IT would be awesome if we could wear those suits and play games with it our body would be a playstation move controller lol


134

+ g0g2151 on May 21st, 2011 at 12:27 am said:

Can’t wait to play UNCHARTED 3!!!!


135

+ F150_FORD on May 21st, 2011 at 1:18 am said:

No game on xbox comes close in being better than uncharted 3


136

+ Grotto16 on May 21st, 2011 at 1:29 am said:

Amazing…can’t wait :)


137

+ akab211 on May 21st, 2011 at 1:38 am said:

This doesen’t show much but thanks anyway!


138

+ Daephas on May 21st, 2011 at 2:38 am said:

I WANT.


139

+ Yardragon on May 21st, 2011 at 4:26 am said:

gettin’ a little tired of not being able to get into the store…atleast through out some undated info.
didn’t pay for plus just for MP.


140

+ TWOFIVE55 on May 21st, 2011 at 4:45 am said:

looks good to me caint wate


141

+ alynalyn on May 21st, 2011 at 4:57 am said:

This is pretty awsome,so is gonna be a scene with a car.Awsome!


142

+ chicken636 on May 21st, 2011 at 5:06 am said:

Hey Sid, please update the 3D post you made.


143

+ CHUNKY_OJ on May 21st, 2011 at 5:36 am said:

these videos should be posted on ps3 under blog like xbox 360 has videos.


144

+ SXnySuXksBaXlsMF on May 21st, 2011 at 6:02 am said:

As the gamer tag says it all,hey sony stop wastin time with this BS and get the rest of psn back up you all are some sad mother f##kers,sony and every one else,(were workin as hard as we can sorry)and all you (thanks sony your #1)in my book your the number 2 I flushed this morning!And man did that sh#t stink!! But really to all you thanks sony,you #1, I never lost faith in you pep suck my hairy B#lls mother F##kers!!!You all were cryin just a week ago,I will be posting suff like this till its fully up, so hurry up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!And sony take the you can watch this be for netflixs stuff off, you make it look as you can get to the store but guess what you can’t every thing should say were sorry but sony has failed you all and the store is closed, all your doing is teasein pep just get the job done and by the way YOU SUCK SONY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


145

+ DaniX236 on May 21st, 2011 at 6:08 am said:

OMG! PLEASE SONY I JUST UPDATE MY BLAZBLUE CONTINUUM SHIFT AND NOW PLATINUM IS THERE BUT AS A LOCKED CHARACTER CAN U PLEASE HURRY AND PUT UP THE STORE SO I CAN BUY HER OMG PLEZ SONY I AM GETTING REALLY FRUSTRATED>PLEZ TELL ME IT WILL BE ON TODAY!!!!!!


146

+ Dfresh12 on May 21st, 2011 at 6:35 am said:

any news about playstation store like will it be up soon ?


147

+ Bigmouthkid on May 21st, 2011 at 6:40 am said:

Will people shut the hell up about the store already. I want the store up as much as the next guy but crying about it isn’t gonna bring it back up. Now to get back on topic I’m looking forward to Uncharted 3. I played Uncharted 2 with a friend at his house and I enjoyed it alot. I’m definitely gonna pre-order this game.:)


148

+ J-ToWne421 on May 21st, 2011 at 7:25 am said:

more new game marketing but still no timeline to return lost purchased content…. the only thing i care about is returning my map packs for games i already bought…


149

+ DaniX236 on May 21st, 2011 at 7:45 am said:

OMG!!! IT IS REALLY TAKING FOREVER AND IDK Y ITS TAKEN SO LONG BUT CAN U PRETTY PLEZ PUT IT ON TODAY!!!! PRETTY PLEZ I REALLY WANT TO DOWNLOAD CHARACTER!! AND OTHER ADD ON AND ALL OTHER GAMES AND SUCH. U DONT UNDERSTAND HOW FRUSTRATIN AND BORING IT IS WITHOUT THE STORE PLEZZZ!!!!! GUYS I REALLY WANT IT BACK ON>I CANT STAND TO WAIT ANY LONGER I REALLY HOPE
U GUYS WOULD CONSIDER PUTTING IT ON TODA AND IF NOT THAN ATLEAST JUS PUT IT ON FOR TODAY SO EVERYONE CAN DOWNLOAD WAT EVER IT IS THEY WANT THAN THEY CAN BE SATISFIED AND WILL BE WILLING TO WAIT LONGER. LIKE ME I RITE NOW REALLY JUS WANT ARCANA HEART 3, And PLATINUM THE TRINITY GUYS SO PLEZ! PLEZ! TRY CONSIDERING PUTTING IT ON BY TODAY OR ATLEAST JUS FOR TODAY. I WOULD BE REALLY THANKSFUL FOR THT.
P.S SONY IS THE BEST >.o’


150

+ plasticmonkeycra on May 21st, 2011 at 7:53 am said:

sony is just having fun building up the anticipation of the customers for the store, so people are more likely to buy stuff online. what other reason would they have to ignore everyone and keep talking about upcoming games? think about it.


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