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Spark Joins Forces with Jim Henson's Creature Shop to Bring Call of Duty: Finest Hour Characters to Life

  • 24 May, 2004 15:42

<p>Original Call of Duty Console Game to Feature Animation Created
By Live Performance</p>
<p>Sydney, Australia – Spark™ has enlisted the Academy Award®-winning talents of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ to provide an unprecedented level of realism, through its ground-breaking lifelike character animations, to the newest installment in Activision, Inc.’s (Nasdaq: ATVI) epic and gripping war series, Call of Duty™: Finest Hour™. The WWII first-person action game is the first console video game to utilise the Henson Digital Performance Studio™ (HDPS) to animate in-game characters by digitally performing them live. Call of Duty: Finest Hour is in development by Spark, which is comprised of more than 30 individuals who have worked on the Medal of Honor™ series.</p>
<p>Utilising the Creature Shop’s award-winning digital performance technology, Spark animators are able to capture Henson puppeteers digitally performing the actions of the Call of Duty: Finest Hour characters live in-game on a virtual set. In doing so, the performers deliver an amazing level of emotional realism and lifelike authenticity to the game’s cast of gritty, war-torn characters, never before seen on a console title. The Creature Shop’s technology also allows the Spark team to record and implement the preferred “takes” or cuts into the game in only a few hours, compared to the typical weeks of time required for character animation through traditional game development. Additionally, within the system, the animators can also link up with pre-recorded dialogue and lip sync to better capture spoken cues for each character, resulting in a greater emotional connection and an overall compelling gaming experience.</p>
<p>"To best equip our cast of characters for the compelling and gritty experience of Call of Duty: Finest Hour, we had to find a production approach that would result in a new level of realism and life for each character,” said Scott Langteau, producer and chief operating officer, Spark. “Having the characters performed live by highly skilled actors and integrating the results through a proprietary AI system gave us just the emotionally powerful and the cinematic impact we wanted."</p>
<p>"We are constantly looking for creative and exciting ways to apply our unique real-time performance technology and Call of Duty: Finest Hour is a perfect fit," said Pete Coogan, Managing Director of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. "This project really showcases the difference a performance approach can have on the overall gaming experience and we look forward to future collaborations with Activision and our friends at Spark."</p>
<p>The newest installment in the award-winning Call of Duty™ series, Call of Duty: Finest Hour features all new missions, transporting players to the frontlines of new campaigns to experience the cinematic intensity and chaos of battle from the epic moments of war.</p>
<p>About Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ is one of the pre-eminent character-building and visual effects facilities serving the international film, television and advertising industries. Most recently, the Creature Shop provided characters and visual effects for Around the World in 80 Days, Are We There Yet? and Jim Henson Pictures’ Five Children and It. Previous projects include The Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pact des Loups), The English Patient, Lost in Space, 101 Dalmatians, Cats and Dogs and Babe. The Creature Shop received a Scientific and Engineering Academy AwardÒ for the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, and won a second Academy Award for it visual effects work on the film Babe. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has been recognised by the prestigious Computerworld Honors 21st Century Achievement Award, which recognises innovative applications of technology that benefit society and the Computer Graphics World Innovation Award. Both awards were given to The Shop for its work in developing the Henson Digital Performance Studio (HDPS), a control system technology that enables puppeteers to physically perform a computer generated (CG) character in real time. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has facilities in both London and Los Angeles and can be visited online at</p>
<p>About Spark
Spark Unlimited™ is a developer of high quality games for PlayStation® 2, Xbox™ and NINTENDO GAMECUBE™. Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Sherman Oaks, California, Spark Unlimited™ is an employee owned company that seeks to create artistry through technology for a global gaming audience. For more information about Spark Unlimited™, please visit our website at</p>
<p>About Activision, Inc.
Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products. Founded in 1979, Activision posted net revenues of US$948 million for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2004.</p>
<p>Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, Scandinavia and the Netherlands. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company's World Wide Web site, which is located at</p>
<p>The statements made in this press release that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements”. These forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties. The Company cautions readers of this press release that a number of important factors could cause Activision's actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in any such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, without limitation, product delays, retail acceptance of our products, industry competition, rapid changes in technology and industry standards, protection of proprietary rights, maintenance of relationships with key personnel, vendors and third-party developers, international economic and political conditions, integration of recently acquired subsidiaries and identification of suitable future acquisition opportunities. These important factors and other factors that potentially could affect the Company’s financial results are described in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Company’s most recent Annual report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q. Readers of this press release are referred to such filings. The Company may change its intention, belief or expectation, at any time and without notice, based upon any changes in such factors, in the Company’s assumptions or otherwise. The Company undertakes no obligation to release publicly any revisions to any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.</p>
<p>Activision® is a registered trademark and Call of Duty is a trademark of Activision, Inc. and its affiliates. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.</p>
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