The faces of Activision: see the results of the publisher’s R&D experiments in “next generation life”


Activision’s R&D department have been at GDC today, showering press and developers alike with the culmination of years’ work in photorealistic character rendering. The six-strong team appear to have driven headfirst into the uncanny valley and emerged with a celebratory backflip on the other side, like a sort of inverted Evel Knievel.

In a personal blog, real-time graphics specialist Jorge Jimenez says the team believes the tech on show here – running at 180 fps using a Geforce GTX 680 – will bring current generation characters into “next generation life”. I believe it also demonstrates the slimming effect of black meshing.

The original high res face data was captured using a combination of performance capture and light stage facial scanning at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, and then converted to a 70 bones rig. It’s rendered in a DirectX11 environment, say Activision, using advanced techniques to faithfully recreate our man’s skin and eyes.

“Each detail is the secret for achieving reality,” said Jimenez. “For us, the challenge goes beyond entertaining; it’s more about creating a medium for better expressing emotions, and reaching the feelings of the players.”

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t listened so attentively to a man mutter about yoghurt since my granddad passed away. Even as Arkane dissuade fellow developers from pursuing photorealism, it’s still a guilty pleasure to watch somebody else take these kind of tangible steps forward. Isn’t it?

Thanks, Gaffers.