How the team behind Far Cry 6 finished a game in lockdown

In March 2020, Game creators at Ubisoft’s Toronto studio had just finished wrapping up ‘First Moments’ Far Cry 6scenes with Too badThe villain Giancarlo Esposito and CocoYoung dreamer Anthony Gonzalez when Covid-19 became very real, very quickly. The border between the United States and Canada was on the verge of closing, and the team was eager to carry the shots they needed before the American representatives could be safely and quickly flown home on a plane.

The first-person shooter game was dependent on the performance of the first-person actors Esposito and Gonzalez, who play Anton and Diego Castillo, the dictator and his son from Yara, a “tropical paradise frozen in time.” Esposito and Gonzalez managed to get out of Canada just before the first shutdown, but Ubisoft still faced a dilemma. The game version is set for less than a yearAnd the entire opening scene – arguably the most important sequence in the entire game – has yet to be filmed. The game had already been in the pipeline for five years and there was a lot at stake to find out.

Only a few Ubisoft employees were allowed to return to the office the following Monday to collect the footage they had just taken, and it was disturbing to see the studio, including a 12,000-square-foot sound stage, empty. “It looked like a crime scene or a zombie apocalypse,” says Naveed Khavari. Far Cry 6Narrative manager. Everyone had left their coffee on their desks in a hurry to get out. Javari and his team knew they had to send the mod to the animators ASAP, but the big question was how they would finish the rest of the game during the pandemic.

No free pass

Capturing video game motion requires precision and a lot of time and patience. After all, the length of filming and dialogue that goes into one game can be the equivalent of five or six seasons of a TV show. It also requires the cooperation of large teams working closely. How do you translate that during the pandemic?

Initially, the team came up with an idea that relied on motion capture techniques 15-20 years ago, in which elements such as facial expressions were almost animated. But they soon canceled that plan. “We knew it wasn’t going to work,” says Grant Harvey, the game’s director of cinema, aka the director on set. “This is a Triple A game coming out in 2021, and it has to look that way. People are not going to give us a pass. So we started looking at how to shoot.”

By June, the lockdowns had been lifted so much that the production team could allow up to ten people in the group, albeit with many health and safety protocols. But when you’re dealing with pre-pandemic numbers of 30-50 people at a time, including camera crews, directors, animators, and actors, He was to give. The production team decided that the best option was to start shooting with four actors at a time. But of course many scenes – from an overcrowded smuggler’s boat to a bloody street demonstration – called up more than four actors. In addition, some of the actors were now stuck in the states or in different cities in Canada and were unable to travel. How can the team pull it all off?

Make remote work a reality

The huge performance-capture studio in Ubisoft Toronto is usually packed with cameras and engineers, but during a pandemic, only one actor and one photographer can work at a time.

Photo: Ubisoft

Anything that can be done practically from home should be. Those who were not needed on the set watched remotely through 10 different video streams. Recording director Tony Lomonaco sees this as one change that has been to the benefit of team members, so much so that he predicts that even after the pandemic is over, people will continue to work from home, including Quality Assurance (QA) engineers, who can suddenly get involved very early in the day. this process. “It was cool because you could have people who wouldn’t normally show up to the photoshoot now,” he says.

Many audio recordings can also be made from home, as long as the actors are well equipped, trained, and supported throughout the process, says sound director Eduardo Weisman. In modern video games, there are narrative-driven lines as well as AI-driven dialogue appearing in the gameplay. In case far cry, let’s say you have a soldier or a non-playable character that says “Reload!” or “Run for cover!” – These parts are easier to record because they are not synchronized with a specific photo or facial animation, and all actors must contribute to them. Once the company developed an in-house tool for registering people remotely through an encrypted internet connection, it proved to be a smart solution.

Even in remote audio sessions, the directional dynamics did not change. While recording, the actors—who work from Canada or the United States—will be in a simultaneous video meeting with the directors, to get comments like, “Now you’re on fire. Aaaah! You’re on fire now! AAAAAAH!”

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