UK based animation trailblazers Speech Graphics are developing new speech animation software which has the potential to make substantial improvements in the video game industry. Specific details about the technology and its planned applications are scant for the time being, but rumors abound.
Speech Graphics’ explains the technology in shorthand, reading thus: “In response to the rising quantity and cost of speech and dialogue in today’s story-driven games, Speech Graphics’ technology uses just audio input to automatically drive a 3D character to speak. Put into context, Bioware’s recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic, contains 260,000 lines of dialogue, all of which had to be animated—not just once but in three languages.”
The potential impact of this new technology is huge, especially for dialogue heavy, sandbox-type games where minor characters are constantly mouthing off. If Speech Graphics product manages to live up to the hype, it could fast track the audio portions of such games, saving copious amounts of both time and money.
While no specific companies or IPs are yet linked to Speech Graphics, the developers have allowed that “a motion capture studio and an unnamed triple-A developer have both integrated the technology into their production pipelines.” Widespread internet speculation as to the unnamed triple-A developer is focused pretty heavily on Rockstar Games, who may be using it for the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V — but if this is the case, both Speech Graphics and Rockstar are playing their cards close to the chest.
Interested parties might get some new info when Speech Graphics displays the new technology March 7-9 at San Francisco’s GDC Expo. Until then, you’ll have to content yourselves with the demo video, in which we see a reject from the Blue Man Group showing off his articulate use of several languages.