Lead Cinematic Designer Paul Marino paints a clear picture of how a scene is designed and directed in Star Wars The Old Republic
Story telling is a big part of what Bioware does and a lot of people say they do it really well. Lead Cinematic Designer Paul Marino walks us through his job and tosses out a few animated examples.
"... the cinematic presentation of narrative can turn the simplest event into a pivotal moment. It's this crafted layering of camerawork, performance, direction and gameplay that allows us to emotionally invest into the characters and the world around them."
Some people think cut scenes are annoying, other people love them, where do you fall on the subject? Are there things that you would change if you could to make them better? How do you let people play out a story instead of just watching it? These are questions the people over at Bioware are asking themselves constantly I'm sure. I applaud Bioware's efforts to ratchet things up and draw us into the story they are telling. It's a fine line for sure and hopefully we all learn to get it right more often then not. I think their sales and popularity show how well of a job they do. Are they prefect? Probably not but they're doing an awesome job and trying hard to break new ground.
Even if you're a model monkey you might have some interest in cinematic story telling?
One thing that tends to bug me about in game cinematic scenes, is that environments aren't often animated or incorporated to the level they could be. It seems like we as an industry tend to focus on the characters and getting mo-cap to flow smoothly instead of drawing on the entire scene to pull people in. The technical hurdles can be daunting and just because an animator can clean up mo-cap doesn't necessarily mean he or she can technically execute and navigate a gauntlet of in game limitations. Still it seems like we're slowly moving toward a more encompassing cinematic experience, over the last few years there have been some great tools written to help script sequences together. I hope they continue to become more intuitive, fluid and wide spread as the gap between VFX and Games starts to close.
I think we often end up sacrificing composition for whatever works as long as we stick to the in game environment. Would it help to take cinematic composition into account when creating environments? Is this something people typically do or do they just the environment along to the next guy and let him deal with it?
Characters are a big part of course, but it seems like we do this at the expense of the background, its almost as if it doesn't matter if its there or not. I like that they cut away to a detonator flashing, but that's pretty typical just before something explodes. There are a lot of camera tricks and story telling methods that Hollywood uses to set up and tell stories without showing the characters at first. A lot of stories start off with an environment of some kind and then you get to know its inhabitants. It seems like some stories tend to use the environment in interesting ways.
Looking back over books I've read on the subject of story telling and story boards I remember "Directing the Story: Professional Storytelling and Storyboarding Techniques" By Francis Glebas being helpful and informative.
What are some things you've read or discussed?
Have any interesting links on the subject of Cinematic Scenes?