Full motion video

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Screenshot of a FMV from Final Fantasy VIII.

Full motion video, usually abbreviated as FMV, is a popular term for television-quality film or animation in a video game. The first use of FMV was in 1985 with Hasbro's unrelesed video game system named NEMO. The NEMO home system created games with VHS tapes rather then ROM cartridges or 3.5 disks. In the early 1990s when PCs and consoles moved to creating games on a compact disc they became technically capable of utilizing more than a few minutes' worth of movies in a game. This gave rise to a flew of Full motion video and computer games such as Night Trap (1992), Dracula Unleashed (1993), and Voyeur (1994). These FMV games used B-minus film and television actors and promised to be create the experience of playing an interactive movie. However, the FMV quality in these early games was low, and the game play was did not deliver live up to the hype. Two major things kept up the interest in FMV.

The first thing was that rise of the Internet increased the popularity of FMV as consumers wanted to download various music and video files online. As the technology improved, so did the FMV quality. Popular platforms for FMV include QuickTime, MPEG and Smacker.

The second thing was the rise of Sony as a major player in the video game industry with their 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). The FMVs in Final Fantasy VIII, for example, are considered movie quality (though the game itself wasn't as popular as its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII). FMVs are still being used, mostly by the PlayStation 2. Squaresoft (creators of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, and Kingdom Hearts) has a tradition of designing games with an abundance of FMVs.

FMV differs from real-time cutscenes in that real-time cutscenes must render the game environment just as in the actual game, whereas FMV is simply a playback of something that was previously recorded, usually rendered by a much more powerful machine. Thus, FMV was traditionally usually much higher quality than real-time cutscenes, and the two can usually be differentiated by this.

With games running on more modern hardware, the use of FMV for cutscenes has reduced drastically as similar quality graphics can be produced in the game engine with much less disc space required for the source data. A good example of this is the Half-Life series which also left the player in control during cutscenes, reducing the feeling of losing control.

Using the game engine also allows the cut scenes to be played at much higher resolution (assuming sufficient processing power in the computer), so now FMVs can usually be spotted because they're 'lower' quality than the in game Motion Video


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