God of War: Ascension – Inside the mo-cap studio
It’s been nearly ten years since I started work on the first God of War. In that time I’ve shepherded many departments, but Cinematics and Story have always had a special place in my heart. Before I joined with the Ghost of Sparta, I was a Trojan (Fight On!!) at what is now USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. For me being in the writer’s room, in the sound booth, on the mo-cap stage, or with the animators is always a bit like coming home.
No one can argue that Kratos is angry. With everything that’s happened to him over the years, he has every right to be. He’s killed, either accidentally or on purpose, everyone he’s ever cared about. He’s been lied to, chained up, run through, tortured, and cast into the depths of Hades several times.
If I was him, I’d be angry too. However as much as I love the big guy, all that brutal anger can wear a person out – especially those of us who have to deal with him day in and day out for the years it takes to put an epic God of War game together! Our aim in this instalment of Kratos’ story is to try and show a bit more of his humanity. To do this, we incorporated voice-over motion capture, or “vo-mo-cap”, into our cinematic pipeline.
The really exciting part of “vo-mo-cap” is that it gives our voice actors an opportunity to work together in a scene. Delivery, timing and efforts all come more naturally because the actors are able to play off of each other. They see how far apart they are from each other physically. They can watch emotions play out on each other’s faces and respond appropriately. THEY CAN WHISPER!
The technology we have now is awesome. Back on the first God of War we might be able to show the actors concept art and possibly a playblast of animation that was in progress. Now we can load up the game environment, the character’s model and rig, and show a rough solve of the actor’s own performance in real time between takes.
Storytelling is what makes us human. It’s how we pass on our history, learn lessons and process primal feelings like love, anger and sorrow. Storytelling, and its interactive evolution in games, is as necessary to life as breathing. Kratos’ story is filled with rage, but it is also filled with a deep love and painful sorrow. It truly is a privilege and a joy to work with such a talented group of people that make up the God of War family and bring that story to life. I hope you enjoy this closer look behind the scenes of God of War: Ascension‘s cinematic process!