Hellblade’s Cinematic Was Captured In Real-Time In Unreal Engine 4

The headline probably doesn’t sound all that impressive, but I assure you it is. You see, most games have motion capture actors do the moves and voices and then capture the performance and implement it into a game or cinematic over the course of weeks. Ninja Theory, with just a team of 16, managed to work with some of the most cutting edge studios out there to create a cinematic for Hellblade by capturing the actress’ performance in real-time using the Unreal Engine 4.

Instead of doing the voice, motion or performance capture and then having the animation engineers take the data and implement it into the game, the performance capture was filmed right there on the spot in the motion capture studio and rendered in real-time right there in the Unreal Engine 4. No intermediary process or second step in going from performance capture to final render. It was all happening right there… in real time. You can check out the breathtaking developer diary below covering how they managed to pull off such a feat.

Hellblade | Development diary: Making a virtual human | PS4

A Hellblade Development Diary video that showcases a world-first: a new technology that allows the Senua actress to perform a scene live and in real-time directly within the game world. www.Hellblade.com

Usually a process like that could cost thousands if not millions, but Ninja Theory – no matter what you think about the quality of their games – managed to work with various studios to create a middleware solution that could readily end up being used by lots of game studios or, as they mention in the video, movie studios to speed up the process of performance capture and final rendering.

Epic just got a huge endorsement here with the Unreal Engine 4. It makes it look spit shine and ready for any kind of arduous developmental task, even those that might be considered technically complicated by the common standards of game development.

It’s an impressive feat that makes me wonder how many more studios will see this and adopt it for their own process for designing games?

I’m definitely not worried about Hellblade being a visually stunning masterpiece. However, I am worried about how well the gameplay will tie into the cinematic elements of the game, and whether or not Hellblade will have any sort of replayability factors to it.

We know that Ninja Theory can make some fun games with good gameplay, like Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey To The West, but let’s just hope that they don’t get lost in trying so hard to bring a 3D character to life that gameplay gets left behind.

You can look for Hellblade to launch this year for PC and PS4.


OAG staff consists of writers creating content about video game and digital culture.

7 thoughts on “Hellblade’s Cinematic Was Captured In Real-Time In Unreal Engine 4

  1. This sounds a lot like how Star Citizen is doing their cinematics. It looks really good as well in the bits they’ve released I’m really interested to see more and more studios using this in their production, as it seems to streamline it quite a bit. And anything that makes games cheaper and easier to do I support.

    1. Totally agreed. I don’t know if Star Citizen is using this exact method… it looked as if they’re still going through the step-by-step process: filming the performance capture, having the facial engineers go over and clean-up the facial animations, and then giving it a final pass in-engine.

      But yeah, anything that makes the process cheaper and easier is a real joy in my eyes because it means we get more games pushing more boundaries and trying new creative routes.

      1. I like the behind the scenes stuff, especially when they talk to the actors who do this stuff. Even they’re amazed at how fast this tech is advancing. Just four or five years ago the tech looks so outdated compared to now, which is really saying something.

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  2. To be honest, I don’t see the point of this within current gen consoles. Technical limitations kinda sour the whole thing. It ends up looking only marginally better, and I don’t see average consumer making out that much difference. Still, nice to see them try. Next generation of consoles will probably see this technique more widespread in the industry. Alongside with more service and subscription fees.

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