Discover the CG secrets behind Call of Duty

We decided to use skies like this without pushing the bounds and breaking the physical correctness by creating elaborate dramatic skybox paintings which become too surreal. Figure this out and then don’t stop until you have achieved your goals. They colour corrected our entire game and used Hollywood film making techniques to give us a polished visual identity. It’s much more of a dynamic and fluid process, vs something that is so fragmented. CS: On the facial side of the capture, we used a new High definition head mounted camera system (HMC). There is a bunch of research happening in realtime raytracing and also browser-based cloud rendering that may change the way we play games in the future. DB: We use many different commercial and proprietary software packages in our pipeline. What software did you use to create Call of Duty Advanced Warfare? What skills or experience are needed to be a games artist? On the physical ‘body’ side of the capture (not the face) we used the largest standard body motion capture stage available to help achieve scenes on a grand scale without the need to marry multiple scenes captured. Working in a way that people who light for motion pictures, photography or stage work. We really liked the look of District Nine and Hurt Locker along with a few other films. “Is that a photograph?” If an image could pass this “squint test” we knew we were on the right track. The secret of being a successful games artist? What part of the game building process do you like the most. The foundation of this was to change to a physically based shading and rendering paradigm along with using captured and physically correct skies. We caught up with Sledgehammer’s CG supervisor Dave Blizard and director of animation Chris Stone to find out how it was put together… Can you tell us about the art and direction of the game? We strive to use the best tools for the job and not let pipeline or legacy get in our way. Once fitted they provided a fixed, un-occluded view of the face which allowed us to observe the luminescent   paint “dots” as they corresponded to the facial expression each of our talent would display in the performance. Be humble and just do amazing work. Be passionate about what you do
Have a personality that makes others want to be around you. This is generally dependent on the group or discipline. We made some major changes for Advanced Warfare that really caused us to rethink the way we work. Moving towards a more of a “practical lighting approach” would be my focus. It’s the combination of all of these things along with a natural talent that culminates in someone who is a highly skilled and respected artist. What advice can you give an artist wanting to break into gaming? “Passion”I also like the idea of integrating games that can play continually across many devices in various ways. What has been the biggest challenge for the new integration of CoD? “tuning by taste”. What performance capture setup did you use to capture Kevin Spacey? We are never really done with our tools, we constantly strive to make them better over time. The traditional mocap stage featured hundreds of Mocap cameras capturing 120 frames of body animation per character per second of capture. I’d say it’s to appreciate the fact that we have to render 60 frames per second in real-time! Unless you want to paint out the sky, you need to use what you shoot. We wanted it to be different and more documentary style. This also provided a great foundation for the rest of the scene to be built upon. Someone said. What’s your advice on landing a dream job in the games industry? This allowed a far better performance from the entire cast as no longer were they acting against “imaginary” elements in some “unknown” setting. Is was more as if they were acting on a physical set with the scene playing out around them. The quality of your work should be based on your own standards of excellence. The other component that we relied upon was using a LA based color grading company and artist. The great thing about working in this way is that we can use tools to measure light readings in the real world and compare those to the values we are achieving via the game engine. DB: There are many elements that come together to make a successful games artist but I would say the thing that trumps them all is passion. What can the rest of the CG industry learn from the games industry, right now? Sometimes when you shoot a sky it can be plain without much visual interest, but this is what happens when you make a live action film. The character team for example may be spending 90 per cent of their time in Maya while the lighting and VFX teams are using mainly proprietary tools. CS: We used a combination of cutting edge motion capture processes to achieve the lifelike performances of Kevin Spacey. With that approach, it allowed us to have twice as much motion data as would technically be needed to run in our game engine at 60 frames per second, however it allowed us to have a far greater “resolution” when it came to capture data. “If you do what you love you will never work a day in your life.”
Being a game developer requires a significant amount of work, effort and dedication. Where do you see game CG going in the next 5 years? DB: I always encourage people to explore and have fun. This gave us the best possible way to analyse and recreate the perfect expressions and likenesses of each of our characters in game. Basically a post process pipeline was introduced to the game development process. Explore and research and become a DIY gamer. They have access to so many free and online tools that never existed before. The eleventh installment in the series, it’s the first to be developed primarily by Sledgehammer Games. Regarding what CG can learn from games?

Updated: 22.11.2014 — 19:18