term "Next Gen" is bandied around pretty freely nowadays, but what does
it mean? Some would say that it's a term that loses all meaning as soon
as what's part of the Next Generation becomes current. There are those
who claim it's all about delivering a higher level of graphic and sound
immersion. Of course, there are the gameplay people who want to see
exactly how far we can push simulations by using multiple cores to
provide better physics and interaction.
you have John Gaeta and Rudy Poat - these guys want to get you off of
the couch and into an interactive cinema experience, and who better to
do it? John and Rudy both worked on The Matrix - John won an Academy Award for his effects which include "Bullet Time," and then went on to work on What Dreams May Come.
John is currently working on a few projects and Rudy is a Creative
Director with EA Vancouver. We sat down with Rudy first, to talk shop
about the new process they've created.
Gamasutra: Can you give us a quick rundown of your project
and the technology behind it?
Rudy Poat: Which one? Deep Dark or Trapped Ashes?
GS: Trapped Ashes.
RP: Trapped Ashes
was our first experiment with interactive real time cinema. We wanted
to do something to deliver frames in high definition (HD) that were
ready for film the minute they come out of the box in real time.
Compositing and everything is done in-engine. What's cool about the
film is that everything needed to be abstract, these soft membrane-like
images, and that's really hard to do in real time. Everything looks
like Metal Gear or the Unreal Engine now, and we wanted to
get away from that look in this movie. We decided to try to tackle it
with a real time engine, so we built a way to do those shots.
the shots are not only created and delivered in real time HD, they can
also be loaded up at any time and you can move around in real time.
These shots also run on a server, so on a network, a camera man could
log in and film in real time. Another person could log in as a lighter
and have him moving the lighting around while the camera man is taking
pictures. You can have several people at a time logged in working on
GS: That's a very interesting
way to go about editing. With so many people able to log in and modify
the film, is there a locking mechanism like the ones used on databases
so that one person can use one item at a time?
Only if you run into a limited frame rate. Like, with the machinima
stuff, it's a network capable engine so it's collaborative. For
instance, one of these shots in Trapped Ashes, we can have
three or four people actually collaborating. We could have a lighter, a
camera man and an animator. The animator could be moving the fetus,
because there's a fetus in one of the shots.
They could all be chatting with each other on a mic, at the same time,
and the camera could be recording all of that data and streaming it
straight to film. It's pretty neat. I know the machinima guys are using
game engines to make these little movies. They all log in and do these
stunts while recording them. We're actually building it that way from
the ground up. The big thing for us is the content and not the engine.
next project would be something like this, but taken steps further.
We're giving it the looks and real time experiences that haven't been
seen in games yet. We want to make everything from interactive
storytelling, to maybe PS3 online delivery. It could be some kind of
online TV show that you could interact with or create characters that
would show up later on. We're dealing with getting content together.
The engine is the foundation of it, Trapped Ashes was the
first test and one of the first times anyone has delivered a real time
film that you can interact with the shots. We want to try doing an
E3-type thing where we can show the film and then say "why don't you
try making the shot with the same database?" That way you could be
creating film on the fly. That's where we're going: TV, short films,
artsy interactive cinema. It's all about content. We can build the
engine again and utilize the parts of a lot of real time tools out
there. The thing is how we're doing, putting it together and how we
marry that with the content.