Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End uses some quite innovative techniques to achieve its effects, and two of them were showcased during an event hosted by the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood.
In the videos at the bottom of the post you can check out the shader foliage animation and the tech used for ripples in water puddles in action. Technical Artist Christophe Desse, Artist Andrew Maximov and Dynamics Artist Neilan Naicker also provided a few more interesting details.
- The team was initially tempted to rig the foliage in the whole game (basically setting up the foliage with actual animations), but that would have been too expensive performance-wise. That’s why Maximov created a “shader foliage animation” (which you can see in the first video below) that is much more affordable and still very interactive.
- Leaves have particle emitters on them, so if there’s a gust of wind, they actually drip droplets of water.
- At Naughty Dog developers are very happy to share their knowledge and share ownership of a project. Desse, Maximov and Naicker do it all the time.
- The fly on Drake’s forehead in the first cinematic trailer was made in the span of a day at the very last moment.
- The grain sacks used as cover in the E3 demo are physics-based as they react to bullets, but also simulation-based as they deflate when they get hit. Those are two different animation layers on top of each other.
- They didn’t really need to have the clothesline that gets ran over with the jeep in the E3 demo, but they still wanted to put it in. It was initially started by Desse, and then Naicker completed it.
On top of this, Character Technical Designer Hans Godard showcased some of the tools used by Naughty Dog, which you can see in the last video.