The Virtual Camera: Look at the Future of Cutscenes

Published A year ago by Jane Douglas

And Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Behold the virtual camera, the future of videogame cutscenes. It's a camera for shooting in-game cinematics after the performance capture actors have done their thing. It outputs a real-time view of the performance from the perspective of wherever you move it in the empty studio. The effect is like an augmented reality app or filming invisible ghosts with a ghost-sensitive camera. Watch it at work at Ubisoft Toronto, where Splinter Cell: Blacklist is under development.

Ubisoft Toronto is the giant Ubisoft studio led by Jade Raymond and developing Splinter Cell: Blacklist. In its performance capture studio, 80 T160 motion capture cameras surround the performance space and record the movement of the actors inside while, while head-mounted cameras record their facial performances.

With these cameras and a bunch of microphones, the cinematic team captures body, face and voice for cutscenes all at the same time. But the coolest gadget in the studio is Ubisoft's proprietary virtual camera.

This virtual camera means you can shoot and reshoot the scene after the actors have retreated to the locker room by pointing it at where the performers were. The virtual camera outputs a real-time view of the performance from the perspective of wherever you move the camera. The effect is reminiscent of a augmented reality app; you can instantly see how the cutscene is going to look.

It means more natural, movie-like camerawork from a real human camera operator. As an additional advantage, he or she can walk right through virtual performers and virtual scenery to get the perfect shot.

Ubisoft has said that Ubisoft Toronto's new performance capture studio will be brought to bear on other Ubisoft games being worked on at the publisher's 26 other studios around the world, so, expect the cutscenes of Assassin's Creed V to be shot right here.

About the author

Jane Douglas
Jane is co-editor at Outside Xbox, where she writes words and makes videos. She enjoys dialogue trees.

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