On Friday 9th May, we set out to Shepperton Studios for a day of motion-capture shooting for Empire: Total War. With two highly trained stuntmen kitted out in the latest technology (and a lot of spandex), we captured a whole host of data which is currently being turned into new animations for the game.
Top of the bill on the day were a selection of the combat moves that you will see individual troops carrying out in the massive land battles featured in the game. We also captured some fierce sabre fighting that you will witness in the duelling scenes of the campaign game. A variety of props to simulate interaction with guns, mortars, cannons and walls were also used, as we put the stuntmen through their paces.
In the morning we set up the cameras, tripods and workstation, and then used specialist software to calibrate the equipment to create a virtual space to work in. Once the stuntmen had been briefed on the day’s plans, they warmed up and donned their motion capture suits. Markers were placed in a specific layout, and the combatants performed test captures in variety of poses.
A film crew then arrived to record the day’s action for use in today’s trailer release. Their equipment was carefully set up outside of the capture area to avoid any interference with the light, cables and tripods. Knocking any one of the 10 tripods mere millimetres would require a total recalibration of the system that typically lasts between 15-30 minutes. Fortunately though, this didn’t happen!
The seamless precision in which the actors choreographed their moves was really impressive to watch. As our lead and cutscene animators directed them, another incrementally checked all of the hardware and software. All of the captured moves were reviewed throughout the day and recaptured if necessary.
We also simultaneously conducted a series of interviews with some of the artists and designers who work on Empire: Total War. Positioned outside of the camera volume, our team spoke about how the data will be used as the battles waged on behind them. The resulting footage is part of a new developer diary entitled “The Art of Dueling”, which is now available to watch here!
Back in The Creative Assembly studio, our team is now busily implementing the motion-capture information, as part of the massive collaborative effort on Empire: Total War.
I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse behind the scenes and accompanying Dev Diary. Stay tuned to www.totalwar.com for more features in the coming months!