Company criticises mixing animation methods following Deus Ex 'swapping'

Price drop for Cubic Motion facial animation

Cubic Motion has dropped baseline charges of its facial animation service by 50 per cent, the UK company has announced.

The firm’s unique capture-free animation service – used in some, but not all cut-scenes in Eidos Montreal’s blockbuster Deus Ex – now starts at $200 per minute for high-volume work.

Previously the company told Develop that its service ranged from $400 to $1,800 per minute, depending on rig complexity.

Costs are saved by removing the need for of facial capture, the company said. Developers only need to submit dialogue audio and, in turn, Cubic Motion will animate on their customer’s own facial rigs.

“Since the output is just normal animation data it can be integrated with any pipeline and easily combined with body motion capture,” the group added.

Cubic Motion also said mixing high and low quality animation in a single game has become a “growing problem”.

“Price and time constraints force developers to use low-quality facial animation for the bulk of a game, only using highly produced animation for selected shots,” the company said.

This can be demonstrated in Deus Ex Human Revolution, where cut scenes in the game used Cubic Motion’s tech, though it appears that the in-game animations didn’t.

"The variation in the quality of facial animation within a single game is a serious flaw when it comes to sustaining a coherent immersive experience,” said Cubic Motion CEO Gareth Edwards.

“Gamers will become far less tolerant of poor animation, no matter how much effort studios put into ‘hero shots’. In any other art-form, repeated switching from high to low quality would be unacceptable, but game developers are forced down this path due to the time and expense of producing high-end work.

“This problem is only going to get bigger; we see regular announcements of new ideas for creating great high-end content, but what’s really needed is the ability to bring a whole game up to a high standard. Not everyone has the budget of say, LA Noire, or the same amount of development time, so we’ve set out to smash the existing pricing models and turnaround times for high-volume, high-quality content."

Meanwhile, Cubic Motion confirmed it is at the closing stages of building an animation compression system, compatible with all game engines, that is hoped will allow an efficient storage of very large volumes of content without loss of integrity.

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