Publisher Electronic Arts has tackled the subject of FMVs (full-motion videos) in its monthy Command and Conquer Remastered update, revealing how the upcoming title will handle them as well as the journey it underwent attempting to retrieve the originals.
Initially, the FMVs from the original Command and Conquer and Red Alert were believed to be missing, Producer Jim Vessella revealed. The development team only had access to supercompressed 320x200 versions of the cinematics, which were far from ideal.
Command and Conquer Remastered FMVs
Posts on the community forums did, however, highlight a shelf with old Westwood tapes from when developer Victory Studios – who developed the most recent Command and Conquer PC title canceled in 2013 – was shutting down, which had Vessella inquiring about them.
Initially, they were thought to be sent to the dumpster, however, an EA LA employee intercepted them and sent them to be stored for future use.
Vessella got hold of the tapes, only to find that they were D-2 Composite tapes – an extremely rare format not used since the early 90s – which brought up a new set of issues when it came to digitizing their contents.
One sole vendor on the West Coast was able to digitize the tapes, however, the process only revealed that they were holding mere backups of the 320x200 versions of the FMVs.
The reason why the development team went through all this effort to secure the original Command and Conquer FMVs is because they felt the performances couldn’t be replaced. With no way of securing the originals on the horizon, the team took upscaling into consideration.
Community members had successfully upscaled the FMVs in the past, which led the development team to work alongside members of the community on an algorithm that could AI-upscale Command and Conquer Remastered's FMVs.
The process was started with three goals in mind:
- Upscaling the resolution to get as much quality as possible out of the FMVs
- Increasing video frame rate from 15FPS to 30 FPS for a more smoother, more modern look
- Do another audio pass to clean up the overall quality
This approach is now confirmed to be used for all the FMVs in Command and Conquer Remastered, the majority of which are based on the game's console version due to its MPEG foundation.
The cinematics not featured in the console version will be upscaled from their 320x200 versions, which might lead to a dip in quality.
Command and Conquer Remastered will also feature a Bonus Gallery which will reward players with a chunk of behind the scenes footage, photos or audio for each completed mission.
Players can unlock over 4 hours of never-before-seen behind the scenes footage.
You can listen to the entire story in the video below which also features a comparison between the old FMVs and the AI-upscaled ones that will be featured in Command and Conquer Remastered. You can find it at around the 11:15 minutes mark.