LONDON — Framestore collaborated with Activision and Freestyle Games on the re-birth of the pop culture phenomenon Guitar Hero. With the brand new controller comes a whole new immersive experience, including live-action crowds that dynamically react to your every move, as well as a raft of other new features.
Framestore were given the huge task of set-extending the varied CG environments and creating the dynamic midground and background CG crowds for the game. Collaboration spanned the mo-cap department, lighting, animation, crowd technical directors, texture artists, modellers, riggers, trackers, and yet more from the Film, Commercials and Digital divisions, totalling 129 crew. The team had to create the emotions in the crowd as they change depending on how well you play, so the amount of data captured was staggering. “We’ve completed over six hours’ worth of VFX footage, the equivalent of more than three big-scale VFX movies”, explained VFX Producer Liz Oliver. Normal VFX film shots are around 200 frames long; with the average song coming out at over 6,000 frames, the scale of the project was unprecedented.
CG elements and live-action crowds blend together seamlessly
Framestore were consulted at a conceptual stage, with proof of concept tests and pilots conducted by the digital, commercials and live action production departments. Once these had been approved the work really got going, with various shoots and mo-cap sessions held to capture a range of audience reactions to the diverse genres of music present in the game. “Being on board so early on in the project was crucial to its success”, explained VFX Supervisor Pedro Sabrosa. “We were collaborating with all the different departments, from the lighting team to the motion capture crew, and during shoots we had to make sure all of the camera moves, stage lighting, and music were in sync. This was essential, to ensure the elements would come together later in the process”.
The team then had to figure out how to arrange the live action band, crowd and lighting material with all the CG elements, blending everything together seamlessly to create the massive crowd simulations and photoreal environments. “We designed a bespoke system that captured all of the data from the lighting of the shoot, including light intensity, colour, position and motion. This allowed us to replicate the exact conditions in the 3D world we then created”, reflected CG Supervisor Alan Woods.
The game features a raft of music venues, from intimate clubs to open-air festivals
Creating realistic environments for the bands to play in was also a challenge for the CG team, with texture artists and compositors working on seven separate venues. All of this work was topped off with a grade from Edwin Metternich.
Guitar Hero Live’s release coincides with the release of GHTV, the world’s first playable live music video network.
Client FreeStyle Games
Co-Director, Creative Director Jamie Jackson
Production Company Pulse Films UK
Director Giorgio Testi
Producer John Bannister, Isabel Davis
Creative Studio Framestore
VFX Supervisor Pedro Sabrosa
CG Supervisor Alan Woods
Senior Producer Liz Oliver