Full motion video

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A full motion video (FMV) is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files (rather than sprites, vectors, or 3D models) to display action in the game. While many games feature FMVs as a way to present information during cutscenes, games that are primarily presented through FMVs are referred to as full-motion video games or interactive movies.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

Vector graphics type of 2D digital illustration that uses geometric and styling definitions to represent images

Vector graphics are computer graphics images that are defined in terms of 2D points, which are connected by lines and curves to form polygons and other shapes. Each of these points has a definite position on the x- and y-axis of the work plane and determines the direction of the path; further, each path may have various properties including values for stroke color, shape, curve, thickness, and fill. Vector graphics are commonly found today in the SVG, EPS and PDF graphic file formats and are intrinsically different from the more common raster graphics file formats of JPEG, PNG, APNG, GIF, and MPEG4.

Cutscene

A cutscene or event scene is a sequence in a video game that is not interactive, breaking up the gameplay. Such scenes could be used to show conversations between characters, set the mood, reward the player, introduce new gameplay elements, show the effects of a player's actions, create emotional connections, improve pacing or foreshadow future events.

Contents

Arcades

The first wave of FMV games originated in arcades in 1983 with the release of Astron Belt from Sega and Dragon's Lair from Cinematronics. Both games used Laserdiscs to store the video used in the game, which allowed for very high quality visuals compared to contemporary arcade games of the era. A number of arcade games using FMV with Laserdiscs were released over the next three years and the technology was touted as the future of video games. Some games released in this era reused video footage from other sources while others had it purpose made. Cliff Hanger, Bega's Battle , and Firefox reused footage while titles like Space Ace , Time Gal , Thayer's Quest , Super Don Quixote and Cobra Command were entirely original.

Amusement arcade a place to play video games and other coin operated games

An amusement arcade is a venue where people play arcade games such as video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, merchandisers, or coin-operated billiards or air hockey tables. In some countries, some types of arcades are also legally permitted to provide gambling machines such as slot machines or pachinko machines. Games are usually housed in cabinets. The term used for ancestors of these venues in the beginning of the 20th century was penny arcades.

<i>Astron Belt</i> 1983 video game

Astron Belt (アストロンベルト) is an early laserdisc video game in the form of a third-person, space combat rail shooter, released in arcades in 1983 by Sega in Japan and licensed to Bally Midway for release in the United States. Developed in 1982, it is commonly cited as the first laserdisc game.

Sega Japanese video game developer and publisher and subsidiary of Sega Sammy Holdings

Sega Games Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational video game developer and publisher headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. The company, previously known as Sega Enterprises Ltd. and Sega Corporation, is a subsidiary of Sega Holdings Co., Ltd., which is part of Sega Sammy Holdings. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega of Europe, are respectively headquartered in Irvine, California and London. Sega's arcade division, once part of Sega Corporation, has existed as Sega Interactive Co., Ltd., also a Sega Holdings subsidiary, since 2015.

The limited nature of FMV, high price to play (50 cents in an era where 25 cents was standard), high cost of the hardware and problems with reliability quickly took its toll on the buzz surrounding these games and their popularity diminished[ citation needed ]. By 1985, the allure of FMV and the Laserdisc had worn off, and the technology had disappeared from arcades by the end of 1987. RDI Video Systems (Thayer's Quest) had branched out into making a home console called the Halcyon, but it failed and they went bankrupt[ citation needed ]. Cinematronics's fortunes fared little better and they were bought out by Tradewest in 1987. Companies such as Atari canceled more prototype Laserdisc games than they released. Others, like Universal, stopped development on games after only one release despite announcing several titles.

Tradewest was an American video game company based in Corsicana, Texas that produced numerous games in the 1980s and early 1990s. The company was the publisher of the Battletoads and Double Dragon series in North America and the PAL region.

Atari Corporate and brand name

Atari SA is a French corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972, currently by Atari Interactive, a subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA. The original Atari, Inc., founded in Sunnyvale, California in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, was a pioneer in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computers. The company's products, such as Pong and the Atari 2600, helped define the electronic entertainment industry from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.

After only a few years, the technology had improved and Laserdisc players were more reliable. In addition, costs had come down and the average price to play a game had gone up. These factors caused a resurgence of the popularity of Laserdiscs games in the arcade. American Laser Games released a light gun shooting game called Mad Dog McCree in 1990 and it was an instant hit[ citation needed ] and then in 1991 with Who Shot Johnny Rock ? , a game that might be the first ever live action interactive movie. American Laser alone would go on to lease almost a dozen Laserdisc games over the next few years and many other companies again rushed to release titles using the technology. Dragon's Lair II, a title which had been shelved years earlier, was released by Leland to strong sales. Time Traveler further pushed the technology by using special projection technology to give the appearance of 3D visuals.

American Laser Games

American Laser Games was a company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico that created numerous light gun laserdisc video games featuring live action full motion video. The company was founded in the late 1980s by Robert Grebe, who had originally created a system to train police officers under the company name ICAT and later adapted the technology for arcade games. Its first hit game was Mad Dog McCree, a light gun shooter set in the American Old West. By mid-1995 they were recognized as the leading company in the medium of laserdisc-based arcade games. Almost all arcade games released by the company were light gun shooters and a number of them also had an Old West theme.

Light gun pointing device

A light gun is a pointing device for computers and a control device for arcade and video games, typically shaped to resemble a pistol. In aviation and shipping, it can also be a directional signal lamp.

<i>Mad Dog McCree</i> 1990 computer and video game

Mad Dog McCree is the first live-action laserdisc video game released by American Laser Games. It originally appeared as an arcade game in 1990.

Again, the fad passed quickly. The limited nature of the Laserdisc hampered interactivity and limited replayability, a key weakness in arcade games. American Laser, the chief producer of Laserdisc games during this era, had stopped making arcade games in 1994 and most other companies switched over to newer technologies around the same time. With the rise of 3D graphics and the introduction of hard drives and CD-ROMs to arcades, the large, expensive and small-capacity Laserdisc could not compete and disappeared. While CDs would see some use in the mid and late 1990s, it was hard drives, GD-ROMs and DVD-ROMs that caused the largest jump in FMV use in the arcade. Their very large capacities and mature, reliable technology allowed for much cheaper hardware than traditional hardware systems, and FMV cut-scenes became commonplace. FMV as a major gameplay component had disappeared by this time because of the limited gameplay options it allowed.

3D computer graphics graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data

3D computer graphics or three-dimensional computer graphics, are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data that is stored in the computer for the purposes of performing calculations and rendering 2D images. Such images may be stored for viewing later or displayed in real-time.

CD-ROM pre-pressed compact disc

A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains data. Computers can read—but not write to or erase—CD-ROMs, i.e. it is a type of read-only memory.

GD-ROM proprietary optical disc format

GD-ROM is a proprietary optical disc format originally used for the Dreamcast video game console, as well as its arcade counterpart, the Sega NAOMI and select Triforce arcade board titles. Developed by Yamaha, Sega intended to use the format to curb piracy common to standard compact discs and to offer increased storage capacity. It is similar to the standard CD-ROM except that the pits on the disc are packed more closely together, resulting in a higher storage capacity of 1 gigabyte, a 42% increase over a conventional CD's capacity of 700 megabytes.

Home systems

In 1984, a home console system called the Halcyon was released by RDI Video Systems that used Laserdiscs for its games and was to feature ports of several popular Laserdisc arcade games of the day. It used FMV exclusively, but the company folded after releasing only two titles for the system. The LaserActive from Pioneer would try the technology again in 1994, but it too failed.

The Halcyon is a home video game console produced by RDI Video Systems. The system was planned to be released in January 1985, with initial retail price for the system being US$2500. Fewer than a dozen units are known to exist and it is not generally believed that the system ever reached retailers. The design featured a laserdisc player and attached computer, each the size of an early-model VCR. Of the six games planned, only two games were completed: Thayer's Quest and NFL Football LA Raiders vs SD Chargers. RDI Video Systems claimed that the system would be entirely voice-activated, and would have an artificial intelligence on par with HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Pioneer Corporation Japanese electronics company

Pioneer Corporation commonly referred to as Pioneer, is a Japanese multinational corporation based in Tokyo, Japan, that specializes in digital entertainment products. The company was founded by Nozomu Matsumoto in 1938 in Tokyo as a radio and speaker repair shop, and its current president is Susumu Kotani.

By the early 1990s when PCs and consoles moved to creating games on a CD, they became technically capable of utilizing more than a few minutes' worth of movies in a game. This gave rise to a slew of original FMV-based computer games such as Night Trap (1992), The 7th Guest (1993), Voyeur (1993), Phantasmagoria (1995), and Daryl F. Gates' Police Quest: SWAT (1995). Other titles were simply scaled down ports of Laserdisc arcade games, some of them a decade old by this time. Regardless of their sources, these FMV games frequently used B-movie and TV actors and promised to create the experience of playing an interactive movie or animation[ citation needed ]. However, production values were quite low with amateurish sets, lighting, costumes, and special effects[ citation needed ]. Animated titles either cobbled together footage from old anime or used cheaper overseas animation producers to create their footage[ citation needed ]. In addition, the video quality in these early games was low, and the gameplay frequently did not live up to the hype becoming well-known failures in video gaming. At this time, consoles like 3DO, CD-i, and Sega CD borrowed this concept for several low-quality interactive games [ citation needed ]. Companies such as Digital Pictures and American Laser Games were formed to produce full-motion video games.

Also, the "multimedia" phenomenon that was exploding in popularity at the time increased the popularity of FMV because consumers were excited by this new emerging interactive technology[ citation needed ]. The personal computer was rapidly evolving during the early-to-mid 1990s from a simple text-based productivity device into a home entertainment machine. Gaming itself was also emerging from its niche market into the mainstream with the release of easier-to-use and more powerful operating systems, such as Microsoft's Windows 95, that leveraged continually evolving processing capabilities.

Video game consoles too saw incredible gains in presentation quality and contributed to the mass market's growth in awareness of gaming. It was during the 1990s that the video/computer game industry first beat Hollywood in earnings[ citation needed ]. Sony made its debut in the console market with the release of the 32-bit PlayStation. The PlayStation was probably the first console to popularize FMVs (as opposed to earlier usage of FMV which was seen as a passing fad). A part of the machine's hardware was a dedicated M-JPEG processing unit which enabled far superior quality relative to other platforms of the time. The FMVs in Final Fantasy VIII , for example, were marketed as movie-quality at the time.

FMVs in games today typically consist of high-quality pre-rendered video sequences (CGI). These sequences are created in similar ways as computer generated effects in movies. Use of FMV as a selling point or focus has diminished in modern times. This is primarily due to graphical advancements in modern video game systems making it possible for in-game cinematics to have just as impressive visual quality. Digitized video footage of real actors in games generally ended for mainstream games in the early 2000s with a few exceptions such as Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War released in 2006, Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight released in 2010, Tesla Effect released in 2014, Her Story released in 2015, the 2015 reboot of Need for Speed, and Obduction released in 2016.

Formats

The early 1980s saw the almost exclusive use of the Laserdisc for FMV games. Many arcade games used the technology but it was ultimately considered a fad and fell out of use. At least one arcade game, NFL Football from Bally/Midway, used CEDs to play its video. Some 1970s era Nintendo games used film and projectors. formats had the advantage of offering full frame video and sound without the quality problems of compressed video that would plague later formats like CDs.

With the re-popularization of FMV games in the early 1990s following the advent of CD-ROM, higher-end developers usually created their own custom FMV formats to suit their needs. Early FMV titles used game-specific proprietary video renderers optimized for the content of the video (e.g., live-action vs. animated), because CPUs of the day were incapable of playing back real-time MPEG-1 until the fastest 486 and Pentium CPUs arrived. Consoles, on the other hand, either used a third-party codec (e.g., Cinepak for Sega Mega-CD games) or used their own proprietary format (e.g. the Philips CD-i). Video quality steadily increased as CPUs became more powerful to support higher quality video compression and decompression. The 7th Guest , one of the first megahit multiple-CD-ROM games, was one of the first games to feature transparent quality 640x320 FMV at 15 frames per second in a custom format designed by programmer Graeme Devine.

Other examples of this would be Sierra's VMD (Video and Music Data) format, used in games like Gabriel Knight 2 and Phantasmagoria , or Westwood Studios' VQA format, used in most Westwood games made from the mid-1990s up until 2000s Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun Firestorm . These video formats initially offered very limited video quality, due to the limitations of the machines the games needed to run on. Ghosting and distortion of high-motion scenes, heavy pixelization, and limited color palettes were prominent visual problems. However, each game pushed the technological envelope and was typically seen as impressive even with quality issues.

Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie , was the first FMV title made by a Hollywood Studio. Sony Imagesoft spent over US$ 3 Million on the title[ citation needed ]. Instead of piecing together the title with filmed assets from their movie (directed by Robert Longo) of the same name, Sony hired Propaganda Code director Douglas Gayeton to write and film an entirely new storyline for the property. The CD-ROM's interactivity was made possible with the Cine-Active engine, based on the QuickTime 2.0 codec.

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger was one of the most significant FMV titles made in 1994, featuring big-name Hollywood actors. The video quality in the game suffered significantly from the aforementioned problems and was almost visually indecipherable in parts; however, this did not stop the title from earning significant praise for its innovative gameplay/FMV combination. Its sequel, Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom , used a similar custom movie codec in its CD-ROM release, but a later limited-volume DVD-ROM release saw MPEG-2 DVD-quality movies that far exceeded the original CD release in quality. A hardware decoder card was required at the time to play back the DVD-quality video on a PC. Wing Commander IV was also the first game to have used actual film (rather than video tape) to record the FMV scenes which attributed to the ability to create a DVD-quality transfer.

An exception to the rule was The 11th Hour , the sequel to The 7th Guest . 11th Hour featured 640×480 FMV at 30 frames-per-second on 4 CDs. The development team had worked for three years on developing a format that could handle the video, as the director of the live-action sequences had not shot the FMV sequences in a way that could be easily compressed. However, this proved to be the game's downfall, as most computers of the day could not play the full-resolution video. Users were usually forced to select an option which played the videos at a quarter-size resolution in black-and-white.

As FMV established itself in the market as a growing game technology, a small company called RAD Game Tools appeared on the market with their 256-color FMV format Smacker. Developers took to the format, and the format ended up being used in over 3,000, largely PC based games[ citation needed ].

With the launch of consoles with built-in optical storage (the Sega Saturn and Sony's PlayStation (console)) console manufacturers began more actively taking it upon themselves to provide higher quality FMV capabilities to developers. Sony included optimizations in their hardware for their MDEC (motion decompression) technology, and Sega chose the software route. Sega worked both internally on optimizing technology such as Cinepak, and externally by licensing video decompression technology from the NY based Duck Corporation. While Duck's offering won praise for its quality (showcased in games like Enemy Zero, major Launch titles in the US and the Saturn adaptations of console hits from the Sega AM2 arcade group) the opaque licensing and royalty structure impeded widespread adoption outside of Japanese and larger US developers.

Duck's TrueMotion technology was extended to the PC and Macintosh as well, showcased in the high profile Star Trek: Borg and Star Trek: Klingon , The X-Files Game , Final Fantasy VII , and the highly anticipated sequel to Phantasmagoria , Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh and other titles. It was reported that versions for PlayStation and GameCube were developed, but the last console version released was for Sega's short-lived Dreamcast.

As the popularity of games loaded with live-action and FMV faded out in the late 1990s, and with Smacker becoming outdated in the world of 16-bit color games, RAD introduced a new true-color format, Bink video. Developers quickly took to the format because of its high compression ratios and videogame-tailored features. The format is still one of the most popular FMV formats used in games today. 4,000 games have used Bink, and the number is still growing.[ citation needed ]

In the late '90s, Duck largely shelved its support for the console market (likely fueled by the direct support for DVD support in newer generation consoles) and focused its formats instead on internet delivered video. Duck went public as On2 Technologies and later generations of its technology was licensed by Adobe, Skype and was eventually bought (along with the company) by Google as the foundation for WebM. An early open source version of that work also appears as the renamed Theora codec of the Xiph Project.

Windows Media Video, DivX, Flash Video, Theora and WebM are also now major players in the market.[ citation needed ] DivX is used in several Nintendo GameCube titles, including Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike .

See also

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Time Traveler or Hologram Time Traveler is a laserdisc interactive movie arcade game released in 1991 by Sega and designed by Dragon's Lair creator Rick Dyer. It is called the "World's First Holographic Video Game" because it uses a special arcade cabinet that projects the game's characters. The "holographic" effect is an optical illusion using a large curved mirror and a CRT television set.

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A variety of computer graphic techniques have been used to display video game content throughout the history of video games. The predominance of individual techniques have evolved over time, primarily due to hardware advances and restrictions such as the processing power of central or graphics processing units.

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