Thursday, 6 December 2012

Inside 343 Industries (Halo 4)

I stumbled upon this fantastic video giving insight into the process behind the latest installment of the 'Halo' series:

I found the video very relevant, as it not only touches on game level design, but also includes lots of the cinematic processes. When you see the resources that  the professional games studio has access to, you realise that you are merely scraping the barrell. One area that seems ever present in game cinematics is motion capture. In a sense the process bridges the gap between 3D animation and real acting. This link between gaming and a cinematic experience is an approach we must be aware of within the modern gaming industry. In many cases we see place holders and basic sets created for the actors to interact with, which is evident in 'Witcher 2.' We even see cameras filming the actions in realtime and the 3D results being displayed on a monitor:

At this level, we almost feel we are viewing actors in theatre or on a film set. The virtual character movements begin to feel human, and the more traditional methods (in terms of 3D) of key framing begins to become less important, and the effectiveness of the character performances begins to lie on the shoulders of the actors themselves, as oppose to the animator. This applies to the camerawork, where a physical camera operator takes charge for a lot of the framing. We see two different industries beginning to merge, as tradition film methods shift into cinematic gaming.

In terms of our own work and process, we had a more tradition 3D approach, key framing everything including character animations and camera movements. It is interesting to look at the scope some of the professional gaming industries have in terms of facilities and specialised practitioners. Referring back to the original Halo 4 video, we see orchestras performing cinemaesque scores, and the transitions from conceptual art to game environments. It really is fascinating the number of different art forms that are brought together to create immersive gaming experiences.

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