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How An Avengers Villain Inspired Director Will Byles To Seek New Motion Capture Technology For The Quarry - Exclusive

While the stories in the new video game smash "The Quarry" and the blockbuster "Avengers" movies "Infinity War" and "End Game," couldn't be any further apart, the projects share a common bond in the technology they used to bring some of their characters to life. The final two "Avengers" chapters surround the wrath of the supervillain Thanos, who destroyed half of the universe with a single snap when he came into possession of all six Infinity Stones. The role was realized through the motion capture performance of Josh Brolin, despite the fact that the hulking Thanos is an alien species much bigger in size than the Oscar-nominated actor.

"The Quarry," on the flip side, is a video game where nine camp counselors face a horrific night in a remote wooded area of upstate New York, the location of the Hackett's Quarry campgrounds. Facing death depending on the paths players choose, the counselors, including Laura (Siobhan Williams), Max (Skyler Gisondo) and Ryan (Justice Smith) face the brutal wrath of the demented Hackett family and a curse that will turn them into werewolves.

Written and directed by Will Byles — the creative force behind "Until Dawn" — "The Quarry" fully employs motion capture technology to bring the actors' performances and settings to life. While Byles had the technology that he used to create "Until Dawn" at his disposal, a fateful trip to the SIGGRAPH technology conference three years ago convinced him to seek the groundbreaking computer advancements used in the last two "Avengers" movies.

Digital Domain's work on Thanos convinced Byles to hire the company for The Quarry

In an exclusive interview with Looper to discuss the making of "The Quarry," Will Byles said a trip to SIGGRAPH exposed him to the work Digital Domain did on Thanos in the last two "Avengers" movies. Byles recalled being floored by how Digital Domain used a machine learning engine to transform Josh Brolin into Thanos, and he sought out the tech company to achieve the same results for "The Quarry."

"They just finished Thanos, where they'd been doing a really unbelievable job with a machine learning [engine] to do the animation," Byles explained. "Previously, we still had animators, but this machine learning thing was extraordinary. With Thanos, it was like, 'That's Josh Brolin.' Regardless of the fact that he's got this giant chiseled pink chin, you could see it is Josh Brolin. His mannerisms were there, the nuance was there, and the subtlety of performance was there. Everything was there. It seemed like, 'If we could get that, we'd be really hitting something.' We had long discussions with them. It wasn't suitable for games yet ... but we carried on our talks with them."

A machine learning engine brought The Quarry to the next level

Luckily, Will Byles said, "The Quarry" had a three-year production window to make the video game, with about a year of that to try out the Digital Domain's technology. Not only did the company deliver, Byles noted, they went far beyond what was expected of them.

"We could always have fallen back on the process that we did with 'Until Dawn,' because we knew that was good, but it wasn't the best it could be in the world. The Digital Domain stuff was, but we didn't know it would work in a game, so we pushed things with them," Byles recalled. "They were super accommodating. They invented a whole bunch of stuff specifically around ['The Quarry']. Even toward the end, they were still inventing some bits and pieces to make things work and catch as close to a captured performance as possible — and not a single animator was involved in any of it. It was all done with their system and their machine learning [engine]."

Also starring Ted Raimi, David Arquette, Lin Shaye, and Lance Henriksen, "The Quarry" is available in stores and online from Supermassive Games and 2K Games.