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Is Motion Capture a defining technology for game producers?

For the longest time I have seen motion capture as only attainable by large budget productions with $100 million dollar budgets.

Motion capture is now almost ubiquitous in game development, with nearly every big-budget 3D action title making use of real actors.

But is this the case for independent creators?

I for one have always been wary of the costs involved. The need to develop a pipeline to hire actors, to rent or purchase the space, to adjust the capture data, not to mention the misconception that using motion capture requires us to have realistic characters, environments, and props.

As little as five years ago, the technology was purely the realm of AAA blockbusters, but now the technology is much more approachable.

I have come to realize that these fears are not justified. Costs are coming down, the process is not as difficult as I imagined, and using footage with stylized characters is possible.

As is typical there is a fear of the unknown. But I think that times are changing and the technology is now attainable for smaller developers. And that is exciting to me.

It reminds me of the film studio system of the past, and how advances in digital recording and lower costs paved the way for the increased chances of success for independent filmmakers like George Lucas, and more recently Quentin Tarantino.

Breakout films with low production costs vs. high box office such as THE PURGE, SAW, ROCKY and BLAIR WITCH exist and compete with blockbusters. But the same cannot be said for games. While there are popular indie games that have risen to the top, it is far less likely and typically the games do not compete in depth of story with the blockbuster titles that are most commonly enjoyed.

Budget: $1 million

Box Office: $225 million

I would like to see more breakout independent games with high (AA, AAA) quality content, lower production costs and high revenue.

I believe this has something to do with production costs and access to technology but as these become more attainable my hope is that we will see more AAA quality games from independent teams.

I believe as mo-cap becomes more common and achievable, smart, creative and possibly to a certain degree lucky creators will find the right actors and scenarios (like using a small playable area) to create games that could compete head to head with the blockbuster AAA’s creatively and financially.