The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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Check out this amazing new video on YouTube.  It's a short clip on the making of the upcoming video game, L.A. Noire.  Specifically, it focuses on a new motion capture technology called MotionScan, which creates the most lifelike scenes yet. 

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Brendan McNamara, lead developer  for L A Noire, has said that “We’re definitely blurring the lines now. I want this game to be the flashpoint where people start to think of games and film as being on the same level, because I’m confident they already are.”  It's hard to argue after seeing the footage.  The company behind MotionScan is depth Analysis, based in Sydney, Australia.   Depth Analysis announced the innovation earlier this year, and gave a few hints about how it works. 

"MotionScan uses 32 High Definition cameras to capture true-to-life three-dimensional performances at up to 30 frames per second," the company revealed. "Capable of capturing up to 50 minutes of final footage and processing up to 20 minutes of facial animation automatically per day, the technology revolutionizes traditional motion-capture and post-production animation. MotionScan records every emotional detail, mannerism, and facial nuance accurately frame by frame as 3D models.  No markers or phosphorescent paint needs to be applied to the actors at the time of recording, and no manpower is required to clean up data and animate the finer details by hand after the shoot. For directors and cinematographers, an additional advantage of MotionScan is the ability to view an actor’s performance from any angle and re-light in any way from one take without the need for multiple camera and lighting setups that quickly drain production time and budgets."

This comes at a momentous time for motion-capture innovation.  Microsoft, of course, recently rolled out the Kinect motion-sensing camera for the Xbox 360.  The Kinect is sort of the DIY version of MotionScan, letting gamers transport themselves into the action.  It'll be interesting to see how this increased realism impacts game development in the coming year.  Perhaps most significantly, it may lead more A-List Hollywood actors into games.   After all, as one can see by the LA Noire footage (which features an actor from the hit show Mad Men) there's more "acting" that can actually come through now given the mocap precision.

LA Noire, which is made by Rockstar Games, will likely be a breakthrough title, ushering in a new era of cinematic game play.  With so much attention focused now on smaller, social games like Farmville, cinematic epics are primed for reinvention.   I have no doubt that while gamers may be spending more time on iPhones, there's always an appetite for big brash immersive epics like LA Noire.  

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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