Larian Studios’ Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game Baldur’s Gate 3 wouldn’t be what it is without nearly hundreds of actors’ diligent motion capture performances, mo-cap director Aliona Baranova explained in an August 25 Twitter thread.
“For almost ALL the dialogue we recorded, we ALSO captured the actors’ mo-cap data,” she explained. “That means all 248 actors,” including Baranova’s girlfriend Jennifer English, who voices Shadowheart, “ALL the NPCs […] put on a mo-cap suit, and their movements, gestures, and physical choices were recorded and sent along with the audio files for the animators to use in game.”
That’s the heart of why “the performances [feel] so alive,” Baranova continued. Everything you see a character do in-game is a decision a live actor made for them, except for in cases “when the actors voiced animals, [when they recorded] additional dialogue, cinematic cutscenes, and, occasionally, if an actor was injured or unavailable to record.”
So, you have real people to thank for your favorite battlefield moments, quips, and all the interspecies romance you’ve been watching unfold across hundreds of hours.
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“The iconic head wiggles Jen did as Shadowheat WERE Jen’s actual head wiggles,” Baranova said. “The militaristic and alien-like movements of [Lae’zel] were [Devora Wilde’s] physical choices for the character.”
“But […] the magic really happened […] when [we performance directors] helped the actor connect to the text on a deeper, more physical level—when you could see what they were saying affect their bodies,” Baranova continued. “By working with the voice director, as a team, we aimed to get the best possible performances from the actors.”
The end results, which have made BG3 players feel anything from vengeful to super horny, are effecting and authentic. It almost makes you want to pay creatives well, or something.