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Ninja Theory Boss Clarifies Uncharted 2 Animation Comments

Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades gave a BAFTA presentation, in which he spoke about motion capture and animation techniques, and how his team excels in these categories.

In fact, due to the many comparisons between Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Ninja Theory's latest, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Antoniades mentioned Naughty Dog's masterpiece and said the game "overdoes itself" in terms of animation and mo-cap. Initially, here's what the studio boss had to say:

"...in Uncharted 2 [Naughty Dog] captured voice in a booth, then did motion capture to the voices. After that, they hand-animated the faces to match that. So you have three different people working on a single performance, which I don't think is the right way to do it if you want to create a believable [character].

I'm actually amazed at how good their scenes are, considering they've done it that way. I don't think that it's true to the performance of an actor."

But after SPoNG ran the story with with a certain "misleading and inflammatory headline," Antoniades popped up in their forums and clarified his comments, which were later produced by the source in question:

"I actually never said the Uncharted 2 animations were overdone.

I am a huge fan of Naughty dog in all aspects of development. I see them as the setting the gold standard in action adventure game in all areas including animation.

However, I am a firm believer in performance capture (capturing face, body and voice simultaneously for multiple actors). It is a technique we pioneered in games with Heavenly Sword working alongside Weta Digital and gives, in my opinion, the most honest representation of human drama."

Before everyone freaks out, we would like to remind you that Antoniades does actually have a leg to stand on, at least in regards to Heavenly Sword. To this day, we at PSXE have yet to see such perfectly synced voices with facial expressions and mouth movements, and considering the game came out three years ago, that's pretty impressive. However, we're not seeing that same level of syncing perfection in Enslaved, although the performances should once again be top-notch.

Take from that what you will.

Tags: uncharted 2, ninja theory, tameem antoniades

9/28/2010 10:53:24 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (70 posts)

coverton341
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:12:34 AM
Reply

They did a stand up job in Heavenly Sword, but I agree with the Enslaved sentiment. When I played through the demo that everyone is raving about I didn't see the same emotional connection in the characters. In fact that was the most underwhelming part of the whole thing. I know it's just a demo and it has some room for improvement in the final product but at this point I'm not expecting the same level of character connection as in Heavenly Sword.

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big6
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:33:41 AM

Yes, that was my one big gripe about the Enslaved demo. Even though it was just a demo, I didn't feel a connection with either character.
In fact, they both sort of annoyed me a little.
I'm really hoping this changes, after I play the full game. Hopefully it'll include a comprehensive back-story that will make me like both characters more.

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B-RadGfromOV
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:48:06 PM

I agree, however, you can't expect to see the fully fleshed out relationship in a demo of the first part of the game. They just met each other and don't really like eachother at this point in the story. Their bond grows as the story goes.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:13:00 AM
Reply

Haha, I don't know why but Ninja Theory and this Antoniades rubs me the wrong way. They don't seem to have any original ideas.

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B-RadGfromOV
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:48:45 PM

I get the same feeling dude...

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aaronisbla
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:23:01 PM

they aren't making it easier for me to like them either

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maxpontiac
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 9:13:42 AM

It's official. Ninja Theory is officially in my so not support list.

A quote --

“…we have found that it’s usually harder for us to get things working fast on the PS3. It’s a really powerful piece of kit but it’s a little more complex to work with than the 360. So maybe there is slightly more work being done on the PS3 as we can be pretty sure that if we get it working at a decent FPS on PS3 then it’s going to work on 360 too.”

Something is going on here...

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:15:57 AM
Reply

Ninja Theory is starting to remind me of Turn 10.

If I hear the word "definitive" once....

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coverton341
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:20:31 AM

Haha! Too true. But at least they have enough sense to back pedal and try to sound apologetic. Turn 10 will never be so humble.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:24:03 AM

Excellent point. I am not a fan of ANYONE who nitpicks someone's way of doing things.

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coverton341
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:40:34 AM

Yeah, I hear you. It's like saying "Hey my way is better, it's the only way to do things, your way sucks" and then delivering something that is either on par, not as good, or only slightly better.

If you're going to complain about someone else's way of doing something you better come with something leaps and bounds above to back up those statements, and in both Ninja Theory's and Turn 10's cases I am not seeing those leaps.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:31:49 PM

Indeed sir. I will admit that due to Turn 10's repeated criticizing of Polyphony Digital has forever changed my viewpoints, especially things on the ridiculous side.

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Kiryu
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:21:32 AM
Reply

What the fu** are they talking about,what's wrong with Uncharted 2's animations,it felt so real.What the hell is he talking about?

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:19:38 PM

What he was saying was that he was surprised that uncharted 2 voice/animation syncing was as realistic & good as it was, because they had three different people working on it, which he didn't think was the right way to do it if you want to create a believable character. He's basically giving his opinion about how motion capturing & voice acting should be done a in certain way & not the way naughty did it in uncharted 2. It really didn't sound to me that was disrespecting them or anything, just saying how he would do it.

Last edited by GuyverLT on 9/28/2010 2:22:28 PM

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:28:07 AM
Reply

Besides, Naught Dog has only improved their games and skills while Enslaved feels like a step backwards for Ninja Theory in my humble opinion.

Funny, I was just talking about selling out creative vision for money on the "my name is Booby, I'm a victim" thread.

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coverton341
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:35:55 AM

It really does feel like they took a step back with Enslaved. The graphics seemed to be pretty similar as Heavenly Sword had great graphics but the connection to the characters and their voices don't seem authentic like they are touting is their expertise. The game play seems to be pretty much standard fare.

Maybe the game will be longer than Heavenly Sword which was admittedly rather short.

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big6
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:36:36 AM

I think the "step backwards" comment is valid. I also think it's because they're going with the Unreal Engine, rather than developing with their own engine on the PS3.

Ideally, they should have just tweaked their Heavenly Sword engine for this game on the PS3, and just use the Unreal Engine for the Xbox version.

But I know doing that will just create more console war mayhem...

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coverton341
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:43:14 AM

That brings a valid argument to the table of why in the hell, if they had their own engine, did they not tweak that engine to run on the 360? Yes, it may have been a bit more work on the front end of things but once it was optimised for the 360 then you are working with something you built yourself and know the ins and outs of, leading to a better experience all the way around from a developers perspective to an end product for the consumer.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:48:58 AM

Besides that character Monkey I thought the graphics where the worst part of the demo.

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Arvis
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:30:31 AM
Reply

Um....

I'm like 90% sure that Naugthy Dog captured voice and movement simultaneously. I remember seeing a special feature on the game disc about it. Can anyone clarify one way or the other?

-Arvis

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:32:52 AM

I think they did too. I think those videos are on the Uncharted 2 disc and/or PSN.

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McClane
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:39:54 AM

@Arvis:

I think so, at least for what we could see in the bonus features...

However, I believe Uncharted 2 has better production values and with excellent voice actors like Nolan North, it truly shines....

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:50:43 AM

Funny how North does such a great job in Uncharted yet he sounds terrible and generic in Assassins Creed.

Must be the writers.

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Arvis
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:22:23 PM

Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for Best Actress and a Razzy for Worst Actress in the same year. For two different roles, of course.

Directing is SO CRUCIAL in any kind of acting.

-Arvis

Last edited by Arvis on 9/28/2010 1:23:26 PM

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:37:07 PM

Yeah. I seem to remember seeing that in the videos for both Uncharted games, which really makes me wonder whether Tam knows what he's talking about. But then, maybe ND have been lying to us...
Peace.

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McClane
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:18:32 PM

@Jawknee:

Indeed, writers' fault all along...

His character of AC looks like he's in a perpetual state of boredom and half asleep...

Uncharted 2, on the other hand, he's witty, funny, sometimes angry, you know, like a person who shows his emotions, like you and me..

And as someone else gave the example of Sandra Bullock, here's another one, Liam Neeson...Watch his perfomance on Star Wars and his perfomance on Batman Begins and see which one is better...

Yes, it all comes down to a good script...

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 4:04:59 PM

I couldn't believe it was him. The dialog was bad and most of his lines sounded forced and out of place. I guess the bad writing/voice acting suites the terrible character.

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Highlander
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:40:32 AM
Reply

So hang on. What's he saying? Doing voice capture, motion capture and then having an artist sync the facial animation to the words is a bad thing?

Maybe I'm not seeing the problem here. These are still games, and not motion pictures. If I wanted an actor's performance, I'd see a movie. If I want a game where things happen that can't be reproduced in a movie, I'll play a game.

I think that doing the animation as ND did might give you more flexibility in your game's look and feel and what you can do with the character. Either way, I don't think I'd go around criticizing a game that's damn near perfect, even if I thought I had a crapload of evidence to back me up.

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:56:33 AM
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Hey Ninja Theory, why not just make movies if you're so opposed to animators doing their job?

The actors are not the ones who produce the games. The producer is the one who knows what kind of emotion and overall performance he/she wants out of a character. The actor is just putting himself into that role. Ultimately the producer and director are the ones who know exactly how it all should be presented.

NT is so clueless. I'm ashamed to even associate myself with them anymore.

I'll just say Heavenly Sword was done by a different Ninja Theory ('cause it was, after HS some of their key members left. Like their lead programmer).

While Naughty Dog is raping the competition, Ninja Theory goes a step backward. Enslaved is a step backward, just wait 'till the reviews start pouring in.

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Kiryu
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:02:51 PM

When they went multi platform i knew.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:33:17 PM

Kiryu - You sir, are correct.

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ReecyBoixD
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:07:15 PM
Reply

What i don't understand, is that Uncharted 2 recorded there voices and did motion capture at the same time..

Uncharted 2 animations are currently the best out there in games. I played enslaved demo, the animation was clunky especially when jumping from different platforms.

Another thing as well, games are suppose to becoming more realistic, yet ninja theory say it's over done?

Keep taking those steps back ninja theory, because Uncharted 2 alone has won more awards than your games :)

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Alienange
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:23:20 PM
Reply

He is a pioneer of, and firm believer in performance capture? Yet his latest game fails to maintain the high standards of HS? That's odd. As is his keen desire for human drama. You named him Monkey! You expect me to take your story seriously??

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:27:08 PM

lol

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:31:01 PM

Well it is kinda of sort of based off a old Chinese folk novel or at least I heard them say that.

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:40:40 PM

Journey to the west is what the novel is called I think so they kept 2 of the characters from that novel which are monkey & tripp, and replaced the magic & demons with technology & machines. I just watched another one of their behind the scenes for the game on another website.

Last edited by GuyverLT on 9/28/2010 2:42:07 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:42:22 PM
Reply

You know, I think a lot of you need to put Heavenly Sword back in the PS3 again. You've forgotten how far visuals have come; in no WAY is Enslaved significantly inferior to HS's visuals. The only drawback seems to be the disappearance of that perfect voice/animation syncing.

Beyond that, watch the backgrounds, effects, detailing, animation, etc. in gameplay when you see Enslaved. I just put HS in the PS3 a few days ago...we really HAVE forgotten. It was great for 2007 and it's still good...but hardly great, anymore.

I think too many people are hung up on the fact that Ninja Theory went multi, and are letting that disappointment unfairly bias themselves against the studio and Enslaved. We should try to be more objective.

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 12:49:54 PM

Ok then, I'll wait for multiple reviews. I have a feeling it won't score as well as Heavenly Sword. At least the ps3 version.

Though they also claim they're the pioneers of mo-cap yet Enslaved seems to be inferior to Heavenly Sword in that department. So in that alone they've gone backwards.

Last edited by Scarecrow on 9/28/2010 12:51:43 PM

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:35:33 PM

I for one am not hung up on NT going multi-platform. It's a wise business decision for a company that won't move enough games on one platform.

However, I am against developers who criticize other studios. It's lame in my book.

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:08:05 PM

Your right Ben but Enslaved is nothing to write home about either and were in 2010.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 3:24:35 PM

Well, Enslaved IS "something to write home about," but you can disagree if you like.

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ace_boon_coon
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 3:45:26 PM

enslaved is ok, but it's very unpolished, and not worth 60 dollars. it's funny how they take shots at ND, the uncharted series makes NT catalogue look like dumpster drippings. NT is stealth trolling. if they would have stayed exclusive this game would have more hype, and look a lot better.

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Shams
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 4:13:04 PM

At the very least from what i saw from the demo, as a multiplatform title, Enslaved ain't too shabby. Graphics were a bit framey, controls were sporadic in their responsiveness, but it was a demo, and it was still absorbing.

I just think Mr. Antonaides should take another example from ND: They let their product do all the talking, so they don't have to...it's the mark of most perfectionists...they're so absorbed and sure of their work and improving it, that they don't have time to talk up a storm.

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ace_boon_coon
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 4:32:28 PM

that's why i like sony dev's. they all let their work speak for it's self instead of talkin trash.

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maxpontiac
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 5:34:49 PM

Indeed ace_boon_coon. You will never catch Naughty Dog talking down a competitors product..

Last edited by maxpontiac on 9/28/2010 5:35:11 PM

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keo7
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 8:56:06 PM

For me I just feel Enslaved is step backward because of the animation is not as good as HS. Also another thing I hate is combat system. I know it is just a demo ,but the staff fighting should be better, I am also a fan of Journey to the west and there are a lot of combat style they can do. If they can do like Batman's style combat which combat change every time depend on situation would be a great choice too. Now combat feel a lot worst than Dynasty Warrior game.
It just my opinion, as a fan of both Staff combat style game and Journey to the West series, I actually disliking the direction NT took in making of Enslaved.

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:27:06 PM
Reply

I agree with Ben 100%. So quick to pass judgement when we should just really wait and see. Basing so much off of a demo is not very fair and not very smart. We all know that demo's aren't finished products. They even tell you before you start the game!!! Also, i would say that Ninja Theory do have original ideas. Just look at the new Dante. LOL!!! I just think no one wants to give them a chance or accept their original ideas. I mean really they've come out with one game so far, that everyone seems to like which is the crazy part! Now if most people liked Heavenly Sword then why is there so much hate for their new games? It makes no sense.

Last edited by DjEezzy on 9/28/2010 1:29:10 PM

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 2:35:43 PM

Well maybe it's the fact that Ninja Theory is also working on the new DMC game, remember a lot of these guys were already giving both Capcom & NT a hard time about Dante's new look. Some ppl may still be pissed at them about the character redesign.

Last edited by GuyverLT on 9/28/2010 2:36:28 PM

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aaronisbla
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 2:36:43 AM

the dislike for Ninja Theory has a lot less to do with the changing of Dante's looks since that was just announced. Some of it im sure stems from them going multiplat but i really think most didn't really see Ninja Theory as the cream of the crop dev, like ND or GG.

It also stems from the fact that they have been talking an awful lot about why HS didn't sell as well, about how much it cost, and so on and so forth.

Most are just tired of hearing them talk and wish they'd just make a kick ass game and let it speak for itself.

After all, they've only made one game this gen. I really didn't care much for Heavenly Sword, it was decent but not some killer app like some make it seem. Great voice acting and motion cap but extremely short game with some repetitive game play. Hopefully, where I felt HS lacked in the gameplay department, enslaved picks up

Last edited by aaronisbla on 9/29/2010 2:42:32 AM

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GuyverLT
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 4:48:30 PM

yeah but still I know they talk a lot but the man wasn't really saying anything that was offensive to Naughty Dog all he stated was how he was surprised at how great of a job they did on the animation & voice sync in Uncharted 2 cause they achieved that in a more difficult way & that their is an easy way to do motion capture & voice sync. I think a lot ppl have taken what he said out of context.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 1:44:00 PM
Reply

I don't really know what to think of this. HS had some of the best voicework that I've seen in a game. The mo-cap for the game was absolutely perfect. While UC2 gets extremely close to that, it beats the hell out of the in-game animations. Nate moves much more smoothly and realistically than Nariko ever did. That's just the way it is. I don't care how many asinine comment Tam makes, I'm still looking forward to Enslaves.

One quick question: Why was he at the BAFTAs? I mean, I know that games are getting mighty close to movies in their production values nowadays, but... why?
Peace.

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Fane1024
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 6:05:53 PM

Uncharted's blended animation technology IS superb.

I think BAFTA also gives awards for games.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 9/29/2010 6:06:33 PM

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Nynja
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 3:51:43 PM
Reply

As much as I love Uncharted, Heavenly Sword still holds the crown for some of the best voice and mo-cap acting I've experienced in a game. King Bohan (main baddy in HS), was played perfectly.

Where Uncharted outshines Heavenly Sword in the mo-cap department is the smoother animation.

Both are great examples of great mo-cap and voice over work.

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Nynja
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 3:53:48 PM

Check this out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luYqyrs7lL0

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NazzyQ
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 4:22:49 PM
Reply

I'm going to have to agree with Ben here. A lot of you guys seem to have a grudge against Ninja Theory because of their multiplatform move. Also, many of you have misunderstood what Antionades is saying. He states U2's animation is amazing , but he thinks that Naughty Dog used a long- winded method to achieve such spectacular results. You guys have to stop treating NaughtyDog as though they're untouchable deities. They're a brilliant dev team, but that doesn't mean that they can't be criticized once in a while. Heck, I'm willing to bet that Uncharted 2 wouldn't have been such as awesome game if Naughty Dog hadn't listened to criticism about Uncharted 1 and responded to it

Last edited by NazzyQ on 9/28/2010 4:24:34 PM

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 5:08:49 PM

I agree.

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DjEezzy
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 4:54:03 PM
Reply

Thats sort of what i ment guyver. But really, they took dante and made it their own. I would call that an original idea. But hey what do i know. All i'm saying is that people are hating before they even see the finished product on both DMC and Enslaved. Oh well, Haters throw salt like rice at a wedding. LOL

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GuyverLT
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 5:11:10 PM

I had to learn this the hard way, a couple of the guys brought it 2 my attention that if you click the reply button on your initial comment you wont have to start a whole new thread.

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Crabba
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 5:27:34 PM
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I have yet to try the Enslaved demo, so I can't really say much about it, but Heavenly Sword still has some of the best characters, mo-cap & voiceovers I've ever seen and heard in a game, only game I can think of that has that same level in these areas is Uncharted 1 & 2.

So I wouldn't say he's wrong, since they obviously know how to do it properly too as they did in HS, whether they will be able to repeat this in Enslaved I guess we'll have to wait and see, but from what I've seen in early videos/screenshots I'm not that impressed.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 5:56:59 PM
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I don't remember the movements frame rates and controls in HS being so sloppy but maybe I'll pop HS back in to see if u are right Ben. I do recall it was a screen tearing mess (HS)

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Jawknee
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 6:09:19 PM

I don't either. the controls felt better in HS from what i remember. The graphics were the same if not better in terms of fidelity.

Enslaved is not the best use of Unreal.

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keo7
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 9:06:43 PM

yeah there are screen tearing problem and frame rate drop on the last stage, but I love HS. I'm one of those guy who know HS is uber short ,but bought it anyway because I love their animation and combat style. However, I'm solely disappointed with Enslaved so far.

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Snaaaake
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 6:13:04 PM
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Enslaved really reminded me of UC2, especially the environment.
Now I wish they would do something about the camera angle, it gets too close when you're in combat.

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FxTales
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 6:52:32 PM
Reply

Alright so I'm am totally on your guys side when it comes to the comments they made, pretty rich of them to make a comment like that about a game that I consider the best in years. I'm not impressed with their attitude towards sony and the comments they made.

It was that right there that turned me off them however I watched the gameplay demo and I found myself enjoying the game. I don't know if it's a purchase but I can say for sure I'm going to try it out.

Last edited by FxTales on 9/28/2010 6:53:49 PM

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GuardianMode
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 8:32:14 PM
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My guess is that they are upset with the constant comparisons with U2.Lets face it, U2 is the top of the top for action platformers. Yet,the more they trash talk the more I ignore their game.

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 9:31:16 PM
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Guess I'm in the minority, and although the graphics weren't crisp & I didn't like the way they did Monkey's facial war paint, I very much enjoyed the Enslaved demo & thought the scenery was very vibrant.

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SmokeyPSD
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 10:39:01 PM
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?!? The fact is he is WRONG about UC. They recorded voices AND the motion on a mocap stage at the sametime.

The Rising team and this guy are really working hard to annoy me.

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aaronisbla
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 2:44:21 AM

i remember seeing a behind the scenes video of them doing exactly that.

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rockervi
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 @ 11:34:08 PM
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Could someone tell me what does SPoNG stand for?

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___________
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 @ 4:12:12 AM
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ok, NT ill forgive you on this one.
though i will never forgive you for what you did to my beloved dante, NEVER!!!!!!!!!!

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