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Cutscenes in games like Out of This World and Flashback

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Does anyone know how the cutscenes for these games were made? I suspect it wasn't just a hand-drawn sequence of frames. I remember reading when they first came out, that a special technique was used, but I can't remember what it was. Can someone point me to a good article that explains it? Maybe it really WAS a sequence of hand-drawn frames, except only deltas are stored in the actual game, since there are lots of blotches where a huge area is all one colour, so diffing two consecutive frames could yield good animation compression...

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I remember those cutscenes. Some of them were looking really 3D but at the same time parts of them were of course completely unrealistic.

In any case, today you can create cutscenes such as these with a 3D modeling package quite easily. For example, there's this plugin for 3D Studio Max that allows you to render your models to look like cartoons or just about any other combination of choice.

I think it was named Illustrate! or something.

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This month's EDGE has Flashback's Making Of.

Basicly they useda video-camera to record someone doing the necessary animations.

Then they used a TV and some transfer-paper to transfer the image of the guy in the TV, to the paper, and then they would put that paper over their monitor, and transfer the paper's data to a drawing program.

They did this to all the frames of animation, and it was a real pain, but the end result worked, and in my opinion, worked better than pretty much all other techniques I've seen since then... it has true feeling...

Although Delphine (makers of Out Of This World and Flashback) didn't know it, Jordan Mechner had already used the same process for its original Prince of Persia, recording its younger brother.

That's a bit of history there for you! [wink]

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Excellent recap, Prozak. Gotta love EDGE...

The technique of tracing live video/film is called "rotoscoping." Wikipedia has a pretty decent entry on it, I'd check that out for a full history of the technique in film and animation.

I didn't know that Flashback and Out of this World were rotoscoped like Prozak described, though... that seems like an incredibly painful and time-consuming process! The "easier" way to do it these days would be to shoot the video, capture it onto your computer, use your favorite video software to export the frames as images, then open each image in your favorite image editor and trace them there.

Of course, you could also buy software like Bauhaus' Mirage which has rotoscoping tools built-in. There's also "automatic" rotoscoping software that does motion-tracking, etc.

A cheap/quick way to get a rotoscoped "look" is to apply some thresholding filters to the video footage, something like Photoshop's "cutout" filter works pretty well.

When it comes to the runtime side of things, we can look to my new best friend Flash as an example: vector animation! The cutscenes were rendered using a very simple vector renderer (I believe it only did polygons, no curves, no outlines). You can actually grab the source code to a reverse-engineered Flashback and see how this was re-implemented in SDL (pretty interesting).

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Quote:
Original post by Prozak
This month's EDGE has Flashback's Making Of.

Basicly they useda video-camera to record someone doing the necessary animations.

Then they used a TV and some transfer-paper to transfer the image of the guy in the TV, to the paper, and then they would put that paper over their monitor, and transfer the paper's data to a drawing program.

They did this to all the frames of animation, and it was a real pain, but the end result worked, and in my opinion, worked better than pretty much all other techniques I've seen since then... it has true feeling...

Although Delphine (makers of Out Of This World and Flashback) didn't know it, Jordan Mechner had already used the same process for its original Prince of Persia, recording its younger brother.

That's a bit of history there for you! [wink]


FYI, this process is called "rotoscoping" and is used often in films to slightly correct faulty video, and particularly in animation.

Edit: Oh. Well, Simagery beat me. Bastard.

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Awesome replies, my glass is up to all of you!

Quote:
Jordan Mechner had already used the same process for its original Prince of Persia, recording its younger brother.


I didn't realize it at first, but you're right; the character animation for the original prince of persia looks very similar.

Cheers!

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Quote:
Original post by Prozak
Although Delphine (makers of Out Of This World and Flashback) didn't know it, Jordan Mechner had already used the same process for its original Prince of Persia, recording its younger brother.


I'm not sure, but I suspect Jordan might have rotoscoped animations in Karateka which came before Prince of Persia.

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Quite a few modern games (GTA3 series, Dark Reign 2, Unreal Tournament series) use their own game engine to do the cutscenes, so they are just a case of spawning the right entities and giving them action scripts to do the 'right' thing.

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