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Have You Even Noticed The Breathing System In The Last Of Us Part 2? (Abby Focus)

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Yesterday we covered the breathing mechanics in The Last Of Us Part 2 for Ellie. These were shared by Sound Designer Beau Anthony Jimenez, who also shared a lot of information about the sound design for Abby’s breathing in the game. In this article we’re going to cover that.

With the breathing system already down from the work on Ellie, the team wanted to look at how to match that with the mouth movements. Initially they tried using an automatic system that already existed in the game’s engine. Unfortunately this was useless to them, so they needed to get some custom animations put into the game to go with all of these breathing sounds. Apparently every single type of breathing, from running, to standing, sneaking, attacking, shooting, and jumping all have their own facial animations.

Using something I do not understand called middleware, the game is able to take the sounds and the facial animations and randomise them so that they look and feel organic. This works particularly well with Abby’s vertigo animations, and they demonstrate the system extremely well.

Here’s the same thing working on Ellie while she’s running around like a lunatic.

There isn’t much more to this thread that explains what’s going on here. Other than the fact that a lot of people were involved in making just the breathing work. There are a lot of systems in play here, drawing on sounds, states, and animations to make the gameplay feel unbelievably real. Looking at what has been achieved here, I’m shocked at how much I did notice it in the game, but thought that it was just sound overlay. Since you never look at Ellie or Abby’s faces while they’re running, most of the time, you don’t notice this stuff at all. I think the fact that so many people went to the effort of making the game this realistic, despite the fact that most people may never notice it, is astounding.

One final note on all of this breathing. The voice actors for Ellie and Abby, Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey respectively, and also Laura Bailey who played Dina, all recorded the breathing sounds you hear in the game. I can imagine them running around the place, mics hooked up everywhere, just so the sound designers got everything they needed.

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