Something that really helps a game's immersion factor is believable facial animation. Things have come a long way in this regard from Mario's big nose.
Ubisoft hired Image Metrics to handle over 28 minutes (for 23 different characters) of facial animation for Assassin's Creed II
. Do those of you that have had a chance to play the game notice some impressive work in this area?
I haven't heard of Image Metrics before but looking at their web site
shows that they have an impressive resume. The most notable and recent work that I've seen was how they handled Napoleon in the trailer for Napoleon: Total War
Pick up Assassin's Creed II
to see what you think of the company's work.
IMAGE METRICS PROVIDES FACIAL ANIMATION FOR ASSASSIN'S CREED II
Precise Animation Technology Adds Lifelike Intensity To Supporting Characters In
Highly Anticipated Sequel to Blockbuster Ubisoft® Title
LOS ANGELES, CA - Nov. 23, 2009 - Image Metrics, the leading provider of facial animation technology and services for the entertainment industry, has provided facial animation for many cut scenes in the highly anticipated action adventure video game Assassin's Creed II. Developed by Ubisoft® Montreal, Assassin's Creed II is Ubisoft's sequel to the 2007 debut title that became the fastest-selling new IP in video game history. Set in an all new era, the Renaissance, Assassin's Creed II features a new hero, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, a young Italian noble out to protect his dynasty from the power hungry, bloodthirsty Knights Templar. The project marks Image Metrics' first title with Ubisoft.
"One of the most anticipated games of the year, Assassin's Creed is renowned for its stunning art design and rich graphics," said Brian Waddle, executive vice president of Image Metrics. "Image Metrics is honored to have used our facial animation technology to help Ubisoft enhance the sequel even further through compelling cinematics that feature emotionally engaging characters."
While Ezio's identity is shrouded in a hood to avoid detection, Ubisoft wanted to develop believable facial animation for key supporting characters in the game, including fellow assassins, priests, ladies and artists - and worked with Image Metrics for many of these characters. Using performance capture and character rigs provided by Ubisoft Montreal, Image Metrics optimized the rigs and used character specific reference data to deliver 28 minutes of facial animation for 23 different characters in the game. The animation was completed within about eight weeks thanks to Image Metrics' proprietary facial animation and rigging technology.
"With their track record, solid technology and very good service, Image Metrics quickly became our first choice for a facial animation partner for Assassin's Creed II," said Jean-Francois Boivin, Production Manager, Missions and Cinematics. "Timing was also crucial to the project. We had to deliver over two hours of cinematics, including 30 minutes of facial close-ups, within tight deadlines. Image Metrics was able to produce the quality and quantity of facial animation Assassin's Creed II demanded in the short timeframe we had for the project."
Set in the beautiful yet brutal backdrop of Renaissance Italy, young Italian noble Ezio tackles corruption, greed, conspiracy and murder as he seeks vengeance and lusts after love in Assassin's Creed II. The game features sophisticated combat systems and a host of new mission types to challenge both fans of the first installment and new players alike. With nonlinear gameplay, players will be able to perform missions at any point in the game. The open-world adventure brings back free running and adds elements such as swimming and flying to the game. Dynamic new characters can either provide opportunities for rewards or lead to surprising consequences. Assassin's Creed II is scheduled for release on November 17, 2009 for PlayStation®3 and the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. For more information please visit the official game Web site located at: www.assassinscreed.com
About Image Metrics
Image Metrics provides facial animation services to the interactive entertainment and film industries. Developed by a team of computer vision Ph.D.s, Image Metrics rapidly re-creates facial performances without markers or makeup, achieving levels of realism and fidelity that are unparalleled in computer graphics. Image Metrics' solutions enjoy widespread adoption by some of the best-known production studios in the entertainment world, including Digital Domain, Rockstar Games and Sony Computer Entertainment. Image Metrics has offices in Santa Monica, California and Manchester, U.K.
Ubisoft is a leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment products worldwide and has grown considerably through a strong and diversified line-up of products and partnerships. Ubisoft is present in 28 countries and has sales in more than 55 countries around the globe. It is committed to delivering high-quality, cutting-edge video game titles to consumers. For the 2008-09 fiscal year Ubisoft generated sales of 1.058 billion euros. To learn more, please visit www.ubisoftgroup.com.