Part 49: An Audience with PlatinumGames - Part 3
We have been talking about make-up. Now I want to ask about her facial appearance. The facial animations are fantastic. Can you explain the process involved in making an animation?
The facial animator creates the animations. We have an expert in facial animation, Takashima. He works completely obsessively.
It's usual to capture facial animation from video when developing for high-end consoles. But this time, we insisted on manual development. He checked videos of talking voice actors for reference. There were also scripts for all characters. He did the complete facial animations manually based on these elements.
We made a video of the recording with permission of voice actors. And he used the mouth movement for each pronunciation as a reference. And facial expression... Takashima did all facial expressions by himself. And I think... although I haven't asked him, he had a lot of fun doing this work. I got that feeling when I talked to him. First we finished test videos with all actions, voices and camera movements, but without facial animations. Then, last of all, he added all the animations to fit these videos. Not just speech, but also facial expressions were his exclusive territory. I didn't really get involved. What I did tell him was that Europe and the United States have a culture in which they express things with body and facial gestures, contrary to Japanese culture. That is something we are not familiar with; therefore he had to do detailed research. He did much more than we had asked. He displayed Bayonetta's... and all other characters' facial expressions. He also came to me with fun ideas, like, "I have to let this character to this face in this scene." That was really convincing. When there was a long break after someone had finished talking, he put in facial expressions and the whole scene became much more interesting. This break was not designed, but he put various ideas into the gap and thus made scenes much deeper.
yoshesque: There's a post by animator Masanori Takashima on the PlatinumGames blog where he describes his work flow. Obsessive is right, but it's interesting stuff!
Apart from the facial expressions, Bayonetta strikes many poses in the game. She performs a pose after specific techniques and the player hears a camera sound. Who came up with this idea?
Whose idea was it...? (laughs) I guess it was mine. I wanted her to perform a pose, because she is a woman. This game has so many elements which were put in "because she is a woman". This is the key difference between DMC and Bayonetta. For example, the lock-on cursor is lip-shaped, or the double jumping effect has a butterfly form. We couldn't do that with a male character, because that would be digusting. It's only possible because she is a woman. For me, it is one of the elements that express her individuality. Dante's battle style is very male and rude, but in a positive way. Bayonetta takes notice of fashion - something that doesn't interest men. A man could go into the office without washing his face. It's not possible for women. Their sensitivity is... in my opinion, just like Bayonetta's style. A lock-on icon can be anything, but I used a chic lips icon. And when she is damaged, she starts bleeding, of course. She can even turn this blood into rose form with magic. This reflects her sensitivity to being beautiful, even when she is attacked. This is something Bayonetta insists on doing. Insists on doing, because she is a woman. That is my image. This is all nonsense. Does she have to pose after a specific move? No, she does not. But she does it subconsciously.
These poses came from artwork or something like that?
Mainly, Bayonetta's motion animator, Kai and I. We decided on these poses while indulging in a bit of man talk. Oh, and another point. Poses were created by the dancer who was the motion-capture model. She studied body movement as part of her dance background.
So I asked her to perform various poses, and she took up a lot of these. When I asked her to please perform something for three seconds, she did an action move and then did a pose at the end. And when I said, a bit longer, about ten seconds, she performed various things for ten seconds and then stopped with a pose. We continued like that until she had run out of ideas. We used these in the game. Anyway, I said that these poses have no meaning. But the movement for summoning a monster has a meaning. In my imagination, at least. Presumably, these movements are part of the witches' magic techniques. They must cast the official ancient spells using fixed ritual poses. They need to use this combination or risk the demon they are trying to summon not appearing. I suppose. (laughs) I imagine all witches are trained in some special training ground. Like 1 - 2 - 3, pose! (laughs)
I would love to see that. (laughs)
Everyone doing the same thing. 50 witches standing there training. Like, "Hey you, not this move! The angle must be like this! Or you won't be able to summon!" One stutter and the spell would be no good. The monster would bite the summoner to death. So everything...
...must be perfect.
If it's not perfect... well, from this point of view we could summon them anyway, if we could trace their spells and movement perfectly. But we can't, so I guess we have to make something wrong, like 0.1 degree wrong angle or pose. But Bayonetta is really great because she can perform this at any time. She performs perfectly whatever her state. Just for the record, Bayonetta did not get any official witch training, because of her terrible mixed bloodline. So whilst everyone else is training here, she took a peek and trained on her own. (laughs)
yoshesque: Here's an interesting post from Kai about animating Bayonetta. The prototype videos are always worth a watch, so check it out. Also, here's the raw/unedited version of the end-game video.
Self taught and a striver?
Self taught and a striver. We are getting a bit side-tracked though. Can I talk about using Jeanne as a playable character?
There is a rival character called Jeanne. You can use her as a player character when you fulfil specific conditions. Her performance is almost the same as Bayonetta's. But there are three differences. First, she cannot activate Witch Time by normal evading. And the second thing is... uh...
No evasion limit?
Right. There is no limit to the number of Evades she can do. And the third thing is... and not many players have noticed this, that her side-step motion is different. In my imagination, all three differences carry meaning. Witch Time is a skill that activates super-fast movement by putting oneself into danger with razor-thin Evading. So, Jeanne is very proud of the fact that she did the official witch training. Therefore her Witch Time will only be activated if she is in an extremely dangerous situation. She is someone who drives herself to extremes. There is no limit to the number of evasions. Bayonetta wants to perform a pose after evading, due to her character. But this is not important to Jeanne. (laughs) To hell with it.
It's her character.
Jeanne is very serious.
Very serious. So when she is fighting together with Bayonetta and sees how she performs a pose... she thinks, "Tss... oh, man, Bayonetta..."
It's a bit tough to go with her. (laughs)
Yes. (laughs) Jeanne is like "Jonathan Joester" and Bayonetta is "Josef Joester" who jokes around, from the famous Japanese comic "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure", "Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken" in Japanese. Now, about the difference of the evading motion. Bayonetta is rolling on the ground. She can do this because her clothes are made of hair, so it doesn't bother her at all. Her clothes are magic-coated and very stable. Jeanne wears her own clothes. Store-bought clothes from the fictional label "D'Arc". She does not want to dirty her clothes. Therefore she Evades without touching the ground.
So that's the reason.
In my imagination. Her clothes are quite expensive.
She works hard to buy them?
I think so. In my hidden setting, she is a high school teacher. She dresses as nicely as she can given her income.
This setting isn't written anywhere?
Well, the thing with the high school teacher is in-game.
Heard the first time.
(laughs) Incogito as a mild-mannered high school teacher, Jeanne.
That is in-game.
Yes, I put the term 'high school teacher' in there. (laughs)
yoshesque: Mari Shimazaki on designing Jeanne. While Shimazaki talks about making Jeanne the complete opposite to Bayonetta, she was given long hair at one point in her design.
And finally an answer: whose butt is bigger?
You mentioned the Joester family. You love Jojo's Bizarre Adventure?
Yes, I love Jojo.
So did the posing idea and rushed punching Witch Weave battle against Jeanne also come from this manga?
Posing doesn't have much to do with Jojo. In the broader sense, Jojo's poses come from fashion designers' poses. From this point of view, it has the same origin. And the battle against Jeanne is from... well, maybe, it originated from Jojo, but there is a game named God Hand, made by us. And that had the punching battle. I had fun playing this game. So I thought, I will take this element. (laughs) Since we are one and the same developer, the member of staff responsible for enemy development is the same as God Hand, Inoue - called Don-san. He is the enemy programmer for important products. I worked with him on Devil May Cry as well. I hadn't worked with him for a while. He did the programming, and when I was talking to him... he came to the Bayonetta team right after finishing God Hand and told me that he wanted to do a battle like in God Hand. So I replied, "Why not? Let's do the same thing." I thought this was quite funny. But not a normal punching rush, because we have the Wicked Weave. We should make it dynamic.
And the God home run? From the opening scene?
God home run... No. That idea came from director Shimomura, who did the opening scene. He wrote on storyboard, "full swing and bang". As Sadaharu Oh, our famous Japanese baseball player would say: When batting, do a left-sided one-leg hit.
There are so many parodies and homages in this game. Who came up with those ideas?
I would say me. (laughs) You found some? I put such elements in wherever I can.
Our guide has a list of all parodies and homages.
So this is the meeting to check you get the right answers, eh? (laughs)
Our staff have captured these costumes and asked me, "What's written there?" So I've had to explain that it is class 5-3 Bayonetta.
But it's Be-Yo-Ne-Shi-Ta. (ベョﾈシタ) It's her own writing, but Bayonetta could not differentiate between "Tsu" and "Shi".
In Katakana "Tsu" ッ and "Shi" シ are very similar and many people make mistakes when writing these letters. Bayonetta too.
And also this shows her character. She writes a very powerful Be Yo and Ne, then she sees that there is not enough roon for the other letters. Therefore the other letters are very small. She misses the spacing really. Jeanne wrote her name in Hirigana. (じやんぬ Zi-Ya-N-Nu, pronounced Jannu) Quite clumsy, but her name fits into the space.
This also shows her serious nature.
This makes their characters very clear. Jeanne started to learn Hirigana letters. First Hirigana, then Katakana. Bayonetta is different. Hirgana-Katakana - doesn't matter to her. She's let someone Japanese write "Bayonetta" for her. She looks at it and writes Be-Yo-Ne and then... oops! No space - that would be just the kind of thing she'd say.