Final Fantasy VIII's Yoshinori Kitase Discusses the Famous Waltz Scene

3 Sep 2019

One of my favorite scenes from Final Fantasy VIII is the waltz scene. It’s the first time that Squall meets Rinoa- admitting that he can’t dance. Rinoa of course, quickly pulls Squall outside of his comfort zone as the scene progresses, showing him stumble and falter across the dance floor. By the end, the scene shows that Squall has not only learned some new dance moves, but it foreshadows the bond that the two will develop throughout the rest of the game.

To celebrate the launch of Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, Square Enix has released an interview with Director Yoshinori Kitase that discusses what went into the making of the famous waltz scene during the games development over 20 years ago.

What inspired the team with this scene?

Kitase: It wasn’t really inspired by anything in particular, but the idea of the dance scene came about because FINAL FANTASY® VIII was the first time we had motion capture available. We thought we would include a scene with more than just having characters talking and that kind of general performance, and have something with a bit more movement in it, to show a bit more human motion. So we decided to do the dance scene and we had a professional choreographer come in, and all the motion actors practice doing the dances, and we recorded it.

Was it a difficult scene to create from a technical / animation / storyboarding perspective?

Kitase: I think rather than the actual filming and the creation of the dance scene itself, the troubles we had were down to it being the first time we did motion capture, so there were a number of things we weren’t familiar with. There was the lead-up scene before they actually start dancing, and this is something you can actually see in the Remaster as well – you see Rinoa invites Squall to dance and he’s very reluctant and tries to move and get away, but she reaches out and grabs his hand and pulls him back in there to make him dance.

When we were doing the original motion capture for that, the actor for Squall was leaving his hand out in a very obvious manner, so that Rinoa’s actor could grab it, it looked a little bit fake. Of course with the motion capture technology and experience we had at that time, it was very difficult to go back and edit and change the motions, nowadays it would be very easy to do it, but back then we didn’t know how to do that. So some of those mistakes or not very polished acting pieces remained in the game, and you can still see that in the Remastered version.

Did the team take any dance classes themselves to learn the dance and understand the character movement?

Kitase: So I didn’t take dance lessons in order to understand the motions for the dance scene in the game. Although having said that, there is actually more than one dance scene in the game; as well as the dance scene in Balamb Garden, there’s the parade (in Deling City) which features some dancing in it later in the game. For that parade scene we actually went to various theme parks and saw actual parades in real life to get some inspiration for that. But no, the dance scene in Balamb Garden was handled by professionals; we got a professional choreographer in to do that, as well as professional dancers, and they handled it very well!

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered launches today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC (Steam). You can read our thoughts on it here.