Yesterday there was an IGDA Berlin Chapter meeting. I think it was the 7th but for me it was the first. On the program there were two presentations: Realviz Movimento (a video-based capture-system) and Paraworld (a RTS-Game with dinos and new army controller) PostMortem by SEK-OST .
Unfortunally we didn’t saw that much of Movimento though it seems an interesting product. Most of the time was spend on MatchMover as it’s the base technology for Movimento. Also missing was how this could be interesting for game developers. It was said, that this ain’t part of the product (offering a ready-to-use workflow to get the the data quickly on an animation-rigs) but it seems that they still think about it and may present some approaches in the future. The interesting aspect of video-based capturing is the flexibilty. For example you can use moving cameras. It also has the possiblity to auto-calibrate itself using specifque visual patterns. The main backdraw is probally that it is not suited for capturing and outputting data in real-time (if this is requird).
SEK Ost made a very interesting presentation though they had not that much time anymore as it was getting late. One factor why development was long was the aspect that engine and tools has been developed in-house. He stressed that maintenance (updating, extending, bug-fixing) of tools is major time and cost factor. In addition to that you don’t have people or a community around these technology opposed to licensing an engine like unreal (the engine he mentioned several times). The benefit is of course that they now can develop similar titles without any licensing fees etc.
The choice to develop in-house was made after evaluating several products (probally in 2000 or 2001) and none seem fit the requirements. I know that they also looked at Virtools (version 1.0.1, i think). They also showed screenshots of their tools and I must say that it once more confirmed the thoughts I have about a good workflow and missing issues in Virtools content pipeline. Their exporter has the ability to tag/classify objects within 3ds max. Thus the artist can say: this is a "connection point for the sattle" or "this is a building" or "this is a connection for arms" etc. It’s something I am looking for too and therefore modded the Virtools exporter to allow specifications and export of attributes – but I am still not happy with it. Though Virtools improved recently their exporter, I am not sure why they don’t come up with something even more robust in handling and features. Unfortunally the photos I took are totally blurry as there was not enoug light, so just one shot:
Very intersting is their cut-scene editor. They did a demo of it and it’s fantastic. I was impressed. They said it allowed them to do a cut-scene in 2 days instead of i.e. 3 weeks. The tool has clips that could be layered, resized and moved on the timeline. It seemed also that they can go back and forth in the timeline and get in realtime the result in the viewport. On the Virtools forum some people asked for some kind of timeline editors and I wasn’t so much pro that idea as I was told that often in Flash movements are scripted anyways. But I think, I am changing my mind. For creating and editing sequences of events timeline-based editing seems very productive. I am not sure how much such a system can be generalized so that it usable for RTS or Adventure cutscenes and other stuff like 2D animations – but it seems that there are enough common aspects.