One of the casualties of the LucasArts game studio closure was Star Wars 1313. An ambitious Tomb Raider-alike, 1313 had you delve deep into Coruscant and collect bounties we were sad to see it disappear.
It looks as though the game wasn’t a total waste for LucasArts, though it’s reared its head in an unlikely place. A film set.
Last week at a BAFTA presentation, LucasArts, the film studio, not the defunct games studio, showed off some new technology they’ve been working on. The tech renders scenes in real time that would normally need to be created in post-production. For instance, actors dressed up in motion capture suits have their motions recreated within a virtual scene without any delay. You can see someone acting as C-3PO have their movement replicated in real-time. It’s phenomenal technology.
The technology is made from 1313’s engine. LucasArts repurposed it to handle video post-production.
"Everyone has seen what we can do in movies, and I think most people will agree the video game industry is catching up quite quickly, especially in the next generation of console titles,” said chief technology strategy officer Kim Libreri. “I'm pretty sure within the next decade, we're going to see a convergence in terms of traditional visual effects capabilities - [such as] making realistic fire, creatures, and environments - but working completely interactively.
"We think that computer graphics are going to be so realistic in real time computer graphics that, over the next decade, we'll start to be able to take the post out of post-production; where you'll leave a movie set and the shot is pretty much complete.”
Game developers have been working for decades now to hone the process of quickly generating high quality visual effects. Game engines have to produce images at fast frame rates and with no lag, limitations movie studios haven’t had. Film creators could have banks of computers rendering out frames of video over months. We’re not at the point with games where a single computer is able to render high-quality images at more than 60fps, more than double the standard framerate of films.
"I think that the current way that we make movies is very pipeline stage process, takes away a little bit of the organic nature of a movie set or real environment,” writes Libreri. “I'm hoping real time graphics technology brings back the creative possibilities that we have in the real world.”
The technology also allows for something new: digital theatre. You can have live performances on detailed digital sets. An audience can be watching motion-capture actors play out a scene on a stage while above a movie-like render is produced.
Libreri touches on this: "If you combine video games with film-making techniques, you can start to have these real deep, multi-user experiences. Being able to animate, edit and compose live is going to change the way we work and it's really going to bring back the creative experience in digital effects.”
We’ll be keeping a beady eye on this.