From the team at Cyan:
Due to Cyan's 2013 Kickstarter stretch goal to support the Oculus Rift, we knew from the start that Obduction would be playable in VR (in addition to standard desktop). We then decided a bit later in development to use FMV (full motion video) for our three main characters. Since our game was supporting desktop and VR, we knew this FMV content would need to be properly viewable in both 2D and 3D. The Kickstarter funding, while successful, was relatively small for a project of this scope and left little opportunity for much R&D. To help us meet our goals on time and at the quality level we desired, we reached out to John Dewar of Studio Transcendent (I had met John the previous year at PAX, through his involvement with Kite and Lightning's Senza Peso). Studio Transcendent was instrumental in allowing us to essentially hit the ground running as we began our 2D/3D FMV work and not lose precious development time reinventing any wheels.
The biggest challenge we faced when embedding the LAV (live action video) into Obduction’s 3D world was simply ensuring that the LAV in VR didn’t “flatten” the experience. The worst scenario would have been for us to simply embed 2D video in VR. That would have been terrible for the VR experience - any chance of the characters being convincing would have vanished. But the alternative of building the characters in full 3D had its own set of problems - time, budget, realism, performance capture, etc. Capturing the live action characters in 3D was right in our sweet spot - we designed Obduction with that in mind, and, with Studio Transcendent’s experience, we were able to make it fall into place.
Our games are all about places - places that feel real. Players may feel lost at first, but that’s a very natural feeling when you’re in a new place for the first time. As players explore they find that the places start to make sense - with a history and continuity. Characters are a large part of that. They give us a way to relay story and emotion, as well as provide short and long term goals as the story unfolds. Using live characters helped further Obduction’s storylines and gameplay.
The biggest challenges we faced embedding full motion video content into a 3D environment in VR were:
1) having proper stereo disparity in the source video footage
2) processing the footage (green-screen removal, lighting adjustments, correcting for convergence, assembly/layout of alpha and RGB channels for left and right eyes)
3) implementing those assets to be displayed correctly in the game engine.
Early on, Studio Transcendent provided us with info such as a proven pipeline/workflow, best practices, and numerous tech specifications, a custom stereo camera rig designed for two GoPro cameras, and even hands-on assistance in the three key areas of filming, post-processing, and asset implementation in Unreal Engine 4. They enabled us to get up and running with our FMV character development for both our 2D and 3D needs quickly and effectively.
Studio Transcendent has the advantage of being out in front - they’ve been engaged in providing VR specific solutions for years now. That means that instead of re-inventing the wheel, it allows a studio to take advantage of Studio Transcendent's experience and get a head start in the fast moving VR industry.