When Warner Bros. approached Phosphor Games, a premium mobile games development company headquartered in Chicago, for development of a mobile video game for their upcoming Man of Steel film, excitement ran through the office like wildfire. The film captures the iconic Superman character with an all-star cast and no-expenses-spared budget. Expectations were high for a mobile game that would match the film's action and visual power.
According to Phosphor Games' lead designer Steve Bowler, "The project could not have been completed without Vicon's high-quality motion capture solutions." The Man of Steel game for the iPhone, iPad, iTouch, and Android smartphones and tablets, was made available to coincide with the summer 2013 release of the film.
Development started with the opportunity for senior members of the Phosphor team to fly out to Burbank, California to view key action scenes alongside Man of Steel director Zack Snyder. Analyzing exactly how combat scenes looked in the film were key to realistic prototyping, a critical first step to creating the mobile game. While the team could take liberties with action sequences and even plot elements, the game needed to truly match the feel and visual style of the film.
BONITA - AT THE HEART OF THE ACTION
Vicon's Bonita motion capture camera sits at the core of the technology used to capture the action of Man of Steel's seven primary game characters. While Phosphor needed the very best optical cameras in the industry, Bonita's price point was critical, combining affordable motion capture with speed, reliability and flexibility. "For this project, we couldn't use anything but Bonita cameras," said Bowler. "Our goal was always to create a premium mobile game, with the same quality and experience you'd find on a game console."
Compact yet precise, Bonita optical cameras are extremely high quality at high speeds (up to 250 fps) to easily and accurately capture fast movements. Plus, the Bonita system is simply plug and play. It uses a single cable to provide everything needed—power, data and synchronization—to calibrate and start streaming data in less than two minutes. "The quality of smaller-budget systems is generally horrible," says Bowler. "You can't change your marker set and face other limitations. Bonita cameras are easily on par with much more expensive systems, enabling smaller indie studios to capture the same quality of data."
Vicon's Blade software was another critical production component, enabling performances with fast, clean, real-time visualization and coping effortlessly with multiple characters, complex situations and difficult conditions.
Designed for studio environments where motion capture and live-action shooting become indistinguishable, Vicon's re-engineered Blade software captures performances seamlessly and enables robust, reliable data through new live side architecture, an improved sync system and improved UI and workflows. The ability to interact with performers on the motion capture stage not only gives the director complete control to make creative decisions but also saves time and allows in-the-moment experimentation. Multiple range of motion (ROM) sequences can be captured simultaneously and character setup features options to run separate skeletons for labeling and solving. Blade makes the entire system easy to operate, fast and flexible at shoot time.
The combination of Vicon's premium motion capture technology and industry animation tools enabled Phosphor Games to create a premium gaming experience - one that's been described as "an addictive action brawler that lets players feel the power of being a super hero."