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I am thinking about using The Sims game or any of the similar kind to capture video and then I would use the recording to add my own audio input. My friend and I are trying to make a kind of comedy show that would be using animated video sequence, which I would like to look as visually realistic as possible - in particular clothes and skin textures would be most important.

Creating and recording video from a game engine isn't a problem. Problem is the editing / processing of the recorded video.

  • @AJHenderson - That's right, but the part of using game engine to produce animation is not a problem. Problem would be video editing / processing to make the scenes appear more realistic. Is this kind of editing possible with a tool that would be mostly automated ? That was still part of the question that you have edited out by the way :) – James C May 9 '14 at 15:13
  • use a better game engine is pretty much the only option, you could do things like increase the contrast to make it stronger darks and lights which would slightly improve the look of sims footage, but wouldn't do much. The lighting and textures just aren't good enough, nor are the models smooth enough. – AJ Henderson May 9 '14 at 15:16
  • Also, feel free to edit the question again, I was trying to clarify the question, but if I missed something, feel free to edit it back in, though the answer may well be it isn't possible since I was refactoring the question with what could be done in mind, but it's still worth getting that in an answer if it is something you want to know. – AJ Henderson May 9 '14 at 15:18
  • I'd also like to comment that using footage from a videogame might lead to copyright issues. Some game companies allow their games to be used for videos like yours, but others don't. – BrettFromLA May 9 '14 at 18:25
  • @BrettFromLA - Thank you for letting me know about this, I never thought about it. However, it would most likely end up for personal entertainment purpose anyway. And since that's how games are used too, I don't think it is a problem. – James C May 9 '14 at 19:51
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What you are talking about doing is an example of an art form known as Machinama. It is where you use a video game engine to play out the actions of a script and voice over it to produce content. One widely successful such project is Red vs Blue which is based around the game engines used in Halo. There are also quite a few different examples of machinama based around the World of Warcraft engine.

For your particular objectives, you would want something that makes it easy to setup camera positions and position actors. Gary's Mod, while a bit dated, is one option for such a sand box. There is also the slightly more advanced Source Filmmaker which is based on the same engine (Source) which is what Half Life 2 was based on. It's a bit dated by today's standards, but both are pretty easy to use and might make a good introduction.

Once you get comfortable with those, it would just be a matter of moving to a more up to date game engine that features realistic motion and rendering. Crytek's engines are pretty well respected for their flexibility and I believe they have pretty good support for things like custom camera positions.

If these turn out to be too complicated, using something with multiplayer and an observer mode can work as a camera as long as you can remove the UI.

Video editing itself is unfortunately a crap in/crap out kind of process. You can't magically enhance the footage you get from the game and make it look more realistic. You can do color grading (adjusting white balance, contrast, color balance, etc) to try and make more realistic tones, but if the textures and lighting and motion are inherently unrealistic, you aren't going to make them look significantly more realistic after the fact in post.

  • Thank you for your answer. About the color grading procedure that you have mentioned. Can you give me a little push on how you would go after doing it ? What software and what functions ? I would like to give it a try. – James C May 9 '14 at 19:59
  • @JamesC - you should be able to do it with whatever editing or color grading software you prefer. Personally, I'd probably attempt it in After Effects, but it could be done in an NLE (video editing software) just as easily if you don't have After Effects. If you have a curves tool, that's a good place to start for trying to tweak it to a more lifelike contrast. – AJ Henderson May 9 '14 at 20:11
  • For a beginner the Source Filmmaker is an excellent option. While the Source engine might be old, it got updated over the years and todays Source engine has huge improvements over the one introduced with Half-Life 2. You also have great flexibility with this tool and an easy to use interface. The Cryengines Editor offers great felxibility and amazing graphics thanks to the CryEngine 3 but its very complicated compared to the Source Filmmaker. – PTS May 10 '14 at 13:44

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