Image Metrics Performance Capture Technology Gets Its Game Face On For Some Of The Videogame Industry’s Biggest Titles

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Photorealistic Facial Performance Animation Pipeline Used to Develop Characters for Several High Profile Titles From Leading Publishers Such As 2K Games, Epic Games and Rockstar Games

Last Updated: February 14, 2008 4:09 pm GMT
(Los Angeles, California--February 14, 2008) Image Metrics today announced that its proprietary performance-driven facial animation solution was used to create emotionally engaging characters for a number of renowned videogames.

These games include long-awaited sequels Top Spin 3 from 2K Games, Unreal Tournament 3 by Epic Games, as well as Midnight Club Los Angeles and Grand Theft Auto IV by Rockstar Games. Each of these games utilized Image Metrics’ video-based facial performance capture solution to deliver titles with enhanced realism and believable characters.

“Creating dynamic and realistic characters that engage the player is increasingly critical to the success of today’s video games,” said Kelvin Duckett, chief operating officer at Image Metrics. “We’re pleased to be able to partner with innovative studios like 2K Games, Epic Games and Rockstar Games to deliver superior facial animation pipelines in the shortest possible time while also creating vivid, lifelike characters to inhabit the games they’ve designed.”

Shipping this spring, the third installment of 2K Games’ popular tennis series Top Spin lets gamers play as some of the world’s greatest tennis pros or design their own digital identity, complete with physical details and style of play. Image Metrics produced ten minutes of facial animation for the title, focusing mainly on in-game reaction shots. The company also provided its first in-game software component, created to ensure that user-generated characters have the same facial animation capabilities as the game’s built-in tennis pro characters.

In Unreal Tournament 3, the latest installment in Epic Games' popular sci-fi shooter series, new characters use a vast arsenal of upgraded, futuristic weapons to battle other players online or go up against unmatched artificial intelligence. Image Metrics held a two-day recording session at Epic’s North Carolina studio to create the necessary video for the game, and provided performance capture animation for six characters in all cut scenes. Unreal Tournament 3 has shipped for PC and PlayStation 3 in North America.

“It was critical to maintain our high level of cinematic quality while reducing the amount of manual animation effort,” said Dr. Michael Capps, president of Epic. “We chose Image Metrics to be our partner on Unreal Tournament 3 and were quite pleased with their effort and the end result.”

Available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on April 29, 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) by Rockstar Games introduces main character Niko Bellic, who has just arrived in Liberty City from Eastern Europe. Notorious for creating some of the most cutting-edge gameplay today, Rockstar Games turned to Image Metrics to take facial animation to the next level in GTA IV. Image Metrics produced all of the facial animation the eleventh installment in the blockbuster gaming franchise. With the enhanced computing power of the latest gaming consoles, Image Metrics is now able to deliver characters that include 3000 polygons in their faces, bringing rich expression and emotion to the game.

Unsurpassed realism in both the physical environments and human characters has gamers eagerly awaiting the next installment of Rockstar Games’ Midnight Club auto racing franchise, Midnight Club Los Angeles, available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in spring 2008. Image Metrics provided facial animation for the game’s rugged drivers, adding even more depth and attitude to the characters featured in the popular title. Whether drifting through a tight turn in Tinseltown or aggressively overtaking another driver on the 405 highway, the focus of the characters behind the wheel in Midnight Club Los Angeles is written all over their faces thanks to Image Metrics’ contributions to the title.

Providing the first and only markerless and make up free facial animation solution in the film and games animation industry, Image Metrics’ technology captures the minute details in each pixel of a particular individual’s performance, allowing impressively realistic personalities to shine through the game’s digital characters. 2K Games, Epic Games and Rockstar Games selected Image Metrics for their Top Spin 3, Unreal Tournament 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Midnight Club Los Angeles games because of the simplicity of the Image Metrics technology pipeline and the Company’s rapid turn-around time, as well as its experience in translating human movement into incredibly realistic facial animation.

To contact Image Metrics for a meeting at GDC, please call (310) 656-6565 in the U.S. or +44 161 242 1800 in the U.K.., or visit http://www.image-metrics.com

About Image Metrics
Image Metrics is located in Santa Monica, California, with R&D headquarters in Manchester, U.K. Image Metrics provides the entertainment industry’s first and only marker and makeup free performance driven facial animation solution. The company’s proprietary performance capture process uses pre-existing or newly recorded video of an actor’s facial performance shot with any video or high definition camera. All detail seen in the recorded video is then analyzed and mapped onto the computer-generated model, providing an unprecedented amount of detail that results in the actor’s personality shining through the synthetic character. Developed over the past seven years by a team of Ph.D. physicists, the technology has been successfully applied in more than 40 video games, movies and commercials worldwide.

About Epic Games
Epic Games, Inc., based in Cary, NC and established in 1991, develops cutting-edge games and cross-platform game engine technology. The company has created multiple million-selling, award-winning titles in its Unreal series, recently shipping Unreal Tournament 3 for PC and PlayStation 3. Epic’s breakthrough game, Gears of War, sold over 4.5 million copies and was awarded overall Game of the Year for 2006 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, Game Developers Choice Awards, GameSpot, GamePro and many others. Epic is also responsible for the Unreal Engine, which is the underlying technology for a wide range of games, including the Game Critics Awards’ Best Console Game and Spike TV’s 2007 RPG of the Year Mass Effect by BioWare and the 2007 BAFTA Best Game and Spike TV Game of the Year BioShock by 2K Games. Epic's Unreal Engine 3 is the current holder, and four-time consecutive winner, of Game Developer magazine's Front Line award for Best Engine. Epic was also recognized as 2006 Studio of the Year by Spike TV, 2006 Developer of the Year by Official Xbox Magazine and 2007 Large Company of the Year by the North Carolina Technology Association. Additional information about Epic can be obtained through the Epic Games Web site at http://www.epicgames.com.

About Take-Two Interactive Software
Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is a global developer, marketer, distributor and publisher of interactive entertainment software games for the PC, PlayStation®2 and PLAYSTATION®3 computer entertainment systems, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, Xbox® and Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft, Wii™, Nintendo GameCube™, Nintendo DS™ and Game Boy® Advance. The Company publishes and develops products through its wholly owned labels Rockstar Games, 2K and 2K Sports, and Global Star Software; and distributes software, hardware and accessories in North America through its Jack of All Games subsidiary. Take-Two's common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at http://www.take2games.com.

About Rockstar Games
The Rockstar Games label was founded in 1998 to create the most innovative and progressive interactive entertainment. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar Games, Rockstar North, Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar Vancouver, Rockstar Toronto, Rockstar Leeds, Rockstar Lincoln, 2K Games, Global Star Software and related logos are trademarks of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

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