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Mo-cap's not just for big budgets - Audiomotion

Fri 01 Apr 2011 9:14am GMT / 5:14am EDT / 2:14am PDT
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'It won't be long' before tech is used more often in iOS and browser games, says Morris

Audiomotion Studios

Audiomotion Studios is Europe's most advanced Motion Capture Studio with over 130 cameras.

The studio...

audiomotion.com

While motion capture technology has generally been regarded as a luxury reserved for the bigger budget games, there's no reason why the animation technique can't be incorporated into smaller games - and at some point in the future it could well be used in iOS or browser-based games.

That's the view of Audiomotion MD Mick Morris, who told GamesIndustry.biz that he'd like to be able to offer more of the company's services to indie studios and start-ups.

"We've positioned ourselves - although niche - as working on the big budget titles, like Brink, Killzone, F1 and so on," he said. "They're all big titles that are using our services, and that's ongoing, but it is a slight worry to see the smaller developers being pushed out.

The youngsters are full of enthusiasm, and they see the bold, new frontiers. Whether that's a hint of naivete about how hard it is to create money-making titles, who knows?

Mick Morris, Audiomotion

"You've got casual and iOS coming up from the bottom, and I think you could detect this at GDC - the youngsters are full of enthusiasm, and they see the bold, new frontiers. Whether that's a hint of naivete about how hard it is to create money-making titles, who knows?

"But there's a lot of enthusiasm from indie and small teams, with some uncertainty in the middle. And then there are the big players at the top who are as bullish as ever, and they're working on franchises anyway."

Specifically Morris has seen a strata of the games industry - the segment that some would label 'double-A' - decline and while he's happy that the company is currently "as busy as ever," he'd like to see more diversification.

"I guess the other worry is that the industry's always been a bit risk-averse - and I think it's going to carry on being risk-averse," he said. "A $20 million title is a big risk now - we know it's a hit-driven business.

"So we'd like to see more start-ups, we'd like to be able to see the indie guys having more success, and if there's anything we can do to help there, we will. We've done it in the past - we've had enquiries from little teams who don't have money for a full-blown motion capture, but can we help them out?

"Once we've qualified that and seen that they're not bulls***ting - that they're passionate and really do need a bit of a hand, then we'll step up and do that. We're just wondering now whether that's something we should be doing more of.

"We always find ourselves with one or two days in the month where the studio's empty, so why don't we use that time and give the young indies - or companies who thought in the past that they couldn't afford mo-cap, or thought it was beyond their reach - time in the studio. Maybe it's a little intro to the game, or help polish the animation... but giving something back in that respect."

And, he added, the perception of motion-capture being too expensive for smaller games will change, following work the company completed for one iOS game from Natural Motion.

"It's not going to be too long before iOS developers are saying they should be using motion capture, that upping the quality of their character animation is doable," he explained. "And likewise I think it's going to be doable for browser-based titles as well."

Audiomotion has worked on a long list of key titles and films in the past, most recently Killzone 3 and the Dead Island trailer.

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