The Remaster is out, we've seen the scenes, we've compared the faces about a thousand times now.
Some us loved the old face and hate the new one. Some of us hated the old face and love the new one.
But let's all agree on something first on the new face : Sometimes it looks super real and sometimes it seems to be a lot less expressive then the old face. But why, you ask ? I'll tell you why.
The reason why people feels like Old Pete had more "emotion" is because Insomniac had to do a lot more manual work on him.
Most of the cast are direct face-scan of the voice actor. Martin Li, Norman, Otto, Aunt May, Electro, Miles, Rio and most of the characters, allowing for total translation of the mo-cap data to the facial animations without any loss.
Then there's some characters that have different people for the face and the voice, like MJ, Black Cat, Yuri Watanabe and others. For these, they were able to have a great translation of the mo-cap data with a bit but very minimal manual editing.
And then, there's Peter.
Let's get something straight : John Bubniak was only the face of Peter. They scanned his face and that's it. He didn't do any performance himself and neither did Ben Jordan. Everything you see and hear is the performance of Peter's voice actor and mo-cap actor Yuri Lowenthal.
And Yuri Lowenthal doesn't look anything like Bubniak. They have totally different face, bone structure, everything. In no universe would anyone say that maybe they could be related, nope. And it may feel like a non-issue, but it was one for Insomniac.
You see, Yuri's mo-cap data didn't translate well with Bubniak's face because of that reason. The bunk of his performance was translated but most of the details was lost in the process.
"But you said that MJ, Black Cat, Yuri Watanabe and others also had different people for voice and face ?"
You're right, I did. And here's the reason why it worked better for these characters.
While we all share the same very basics facial expressions, we also move our face in unique ways. We each have our own way of smiling, arching our eyebrows, looking at stuff, opening our mouths, move our cheeks around. For the most part, we look different from one another. Not because of our looks but because of how our face is constructed bone-wise.
Usually, when someone has a facial expression that looks very closely to yours, it's because of their bone structure. They look different from you but not as much as others. Distance between the nose, the face, the mouth, shape of this, of that. It's all very complicated.
MJ, Black Cat and Yuri Watanabe voice actress aren't exact copies of the face model for their characters BUT their bone structure was close enough to make Insomniac's job simple and keep manual editing to a minimum, like a said before.
I remember when I played the original for the first time. Personally, I always thought Peter had a weird vibe. His face had tons of emotions but it also felt very video-gamey compared to the other characters. It gave me the feeling that a lot of his facial expressions were hand-made and not mo-caped, at least not completely. And now, I can safely say that I was right.
Since Yuri Lowenthal mo-cap data couldn't be translated well with Bubniak's face, they had to over-compensate by manually increasing his animations, or simply completely re-do it by hand, giving it this very "expressive" face but not totally life-like. Very "animated".
And I can tell you something : That is EXTREMELY time-consuming and hard to do. With how advanced models are these days, it can take days or weeks to animate a full cutscene by hand. Just imagine moving around every pore of Peter's face manually for every single frame, how much time is lost.
On PS4, it was already very hard. But on next-gen ? Models are simply becoming too complicated to do this stuff by hand.
On PS5, it would have been an absolute nightmare of a work to be done.
That's why the change had to happen.
Changing from Bubniak to Ben Jordan allowed for a much better framework, Yuri's performance could be translated to the character without needing nearly as much manual work as it did with Bubniak, reducing the time needed for each cutscenes by weeks, while also allowing the performance to be more "real" since it would involve a lot less handmade animation.
"But Peter's new face doesn't have the same emotions that Bubniak had/Peter's new face doesn't look like he has better facial animations"
That's the flipside of the coin. In the real world, facial expressions aren't as "extreme" as they sometime look in animations. Most of our expressions are subdued, with subtle details.
Bubniak Peter facial animations had a ton of emotion, but it was exaggerated in some way. And sometime, it was completely different from what Yuri Lowenthal performance was supposed to be, because the animators weren't able to do it by hand.
Ben Jordan Peter facial animations on the other hand, are completely Yuri Lowenthal original performance. It's less bombastic, less explosive, because it's not handmade. It's the actor's real emotions and acting, how it was meant to be in the first place.
Let me end this super long post by saying :
You have every right to prefer the old, more hand animated Bubniak Peter.
And you also have every right to prefer the new, more realistic full mocap animated Ben Jordan Peter.
And please, be kind to Insomniac Games. This decision was certainly not taken lightly but they had to do it. Remember that they're also fans. They love Spider-Man as much as you do.
Personally, I'm super hyped for Spider-Man 2 because that's where the new model will be able to shine and used as it's fullest, since it would be a completely next-gen experience with next-gen models and tech, while Remastered and Miles Morales are both technically still based on old-gen tech.
Anyway, if you've read all of this, thank you for the taking the time lol
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© Post "[LONG POST] Explanation for the face change, why it look worse or better depending on the scene and the technical reason behind it." for game Marvel's Spider-Man.
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