Bringing Wonderlands’ Tiny Tina to life with motion capture | Digital Trends

    Released in March 2022 (and at last obtainable on Steam this week), Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands serves as a long-awaited successor to Borderlands 2: Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep. In the same vein to that DLC, the bigger story of Wonderlands takes place throughout a recreation of Bunkers & Badasses that’s run by Tiny Tina as she units up and guides participant’s characters by means of the fantasy panorama.
    And whereas Tiny Tina has been voiced by Ashly Burch (additionally recognized for her voice work as Aloy within the Horizon collection and Chloe Price in Life is Strange) since her preliminary introduction in Borderlands 2, the fan-favorite character actually got here to life in Wonderlands due to the artwork of movement seize.
    Rachel Martin, senior movement seize technician at Gearbox Software, is the human behind Tina’s eclectic actions in Wonderlands. In a dialog with Martin, Digital Trends realized about her movement seize work, how she ready for her function as Tiny Tina, and concerning the distinctive challenges that offered themselves in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic for the movement seize workforce.
    (Interview responses have been evenly edited for readability.)
    Becoming Tina
    Martin initially began working in movement seize at Ubisoft Toronto in 2017, when she labored on the stage (the place sensors, cameras, and the usage of different know-how are utilized to seize an actor’s actions and facial expressions) and helped to create the face movement seize pipeline for Watch Dogs Legion. Her work on the face movement seize pipeline and the element she brings to Tiny Tina is unsurprising — Martin has an actual love for bringing realism to the face by means of her work.
    “What originally drew me towards motion capture was the ability to capture actors’ mannerisms and apply them to animation. I loved being able to capture realism within the face. Everyone has certain quirks or facial features that, when captured, give games more life.”

    Once at Gearbox, Martin was approached to carry out the movement seize work wanted for Tiny Tina. When requested about her preliminary response to being requested to carry out the mocap work, Martin tells Digital Trends that she felt “a lot of nervous excitement and a lot of pressure.”
    “I mean how could you not when you have to perform to live up to Ashly Burch’s incredible voice acting?” Martin says. “I myself do not have that much acting experience, but was lucky to have some one-on-one training with my boss Shane MacPherson [lead mocap and animation producer at Gearbox], who has been working with motion capture actors for years. It really helped ease that pressure. And after a bit of training, I could fit the Tiny Tina role.”
    To assist put together for the function, Martin went again to replay Assault on Dragon Keep earlier than getting began. “Being a huge Borderlands fan, I was already familiar with Tiny Tina, but I did replay the entire Borderlands 2: Assault on Dragon Keep to really get into the Dungeons and Dragon mindset,” Martin says. “I tried to mimic some of her mannerisms to really let loose and feel like Tina.”
    Pandemic challenges
    For many individuals, COVID-19 noticed a shift in how work was achieved. And for Martin, the identical occurred throughout her mocap work for Tiny Tina. Motion seize work is historically achieved on a set, however with the onset of the pandemic, security concerns for the movement seize workforce engaged on Wonderlands got here into play and changes to the general course of had been made — together with working from residence.
    “With motion capture, it’s about problem-solving and making things work. We moved from shooting on set with directors and staff for a time to using the XSENS remote motion capture suit,” Martin says. “This would allow us to shoot anywhere safely and have directors remote via Teams to direct the shoot. Thus, [this is] why most of the motion capture body capture videos are done in my home office and not the normal motion capture stage.”

    After two years, I can lastly say, I used to be privileged and requested to behave as Tina Tina for Wonderlands. I did all of the mocap for physique and face with ADR over @ashly_burch unbelievable voice appearing.
    It's been like a dream to say hey that's my face! Happy Launch #TinyTinasWonderlands
    — 🌸Skelly🌸🧡💜🌸Year of FEMC P3P🌸@ FE3Hopes🌸 (@SkellyVee) March 25, 2022
    “Before we were allowed to work on the stage itself, we would use an XSENS suit in our own homes and would record remotely,” Martin says. “That was an entirely new way of capturing body data that required a lot of testing.”
    During this new method to capturing knowledge for Tiny Tina, Martin additionally carried out ADR work for Burch’s voice traces — a course of the place audio is rerecorded in a quiet setting, usually throughout postproduction.
    “We also captured body and face separately to not have so much face-to-face interaction for safety. When recording facial motions, I had the pleasure of capturing in our onsite VO Booth and would record a 1-to-1 ADR to Ashly’s lines. I think trying to visually bring out Ashly’s voice was a standout moment for me.”
    Gremlin mode
    “We [the motion capture team] are seen as a support department in a lot of ways — as if you have an idea, we will problem solve and try to capture what you need. We have had ideas anywhere from swimming to recreating a plane crash to falling 30 feet,” Martin tells Digital Trends. “As a team, we create a safe set for our actors to play that scene and then apply that to our character rigs for animation. Motion capture really is the team that won’t tell you, ‘No, we can’t capture that’ — unless it is unsafe.”
    With that creativity in thoughts, movement seize goals to carry characters like Tiny Tina to life in an in depth method, be it by means of bigger, concerned actions or the little particulars akin to putting a brand new NPC or boss down on the desk for gamers to interact with in Wonderlands.
    Tina has been a fan favourite for years, and I actually being slightly little bit of a gremlin in actual life felt like I may reside as much as these expectations.

    Tiny Tina is, fairly actually, an explosive character — each in persona and thru her in-game experience in demolitions. With that notoriety amongst Borderlands followers in thoughts, I used to be very curious to see if Martin had something specific that she wished to carry to Tiny Tina’s actions throughout her movement seize work — whether or not she was working from her residence workplace or on stage.
    “Tina has been a fan favorite for years, and I myself being a little bit of a gremlin in real life felt like I could live up to those expectations,” Martin says. “I tried to recreate her fast movements, a lot of pointed fingers, and just overall loose limbs. She really has a carefree movement, which was just fun to recreate, much like her younger depiction in Borderlands 2. Plus, us both having our feet turn in made it easier on the animators.”
    “The player only sees the upper-half of the body, so the body movements were incredibly important to translate to animation.”

    That consideration to higher physique motion and element undoubtedly reveals within the closing recreation, the place Martin’s appearing was translated into Tiny Tina’s wacky and gremlin-like DM-ing type that entails a whole lot of curveballs thrown to the participant, hand gestures, and usually chaotic expressions.
    And for Martin, her work is nowhere close to achieved after engaged on the movement seize workforce for Wonderlands, which was her first main venture with Gearbox. When requested if she had any upcoming tasks, she couldn’t fairly share any particulars simply but, however did say: “But I am so excited to be a part of it and can’t wait for everyone to see!”

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