GET GRAPHIC: The Future of Cinematography is a Mix of Movies and Video Games

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RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY (2021)

The trend for video games to be inspired by cinema is not a new concept. Between a certain iconic Nintendo-owned gorilla who is inspired by one of the most iconic movie monsters of all time (hint: both of their names feature the word “Kong”), and video games which are direct adaptations of franchises like 007 series, movies have always been a fodder for the creation of great video game titles.

However, we’ve come a long way from pixels, polygon graphics, and clunky animations. These days, it’s not uncommon to see the exact likeness of a famous actor in a video game, and as I have already explored in this review, games that blur the line between video games and experiences. cinematographic. This arouses a certain curiosity: is the relationship between film and video game no longer one-sided when it comes to borrowing elements from cinematography? Has he become more symbiotic?

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“I think the language of photography is the same, even though the tension is raised differently,” said Maxime Alexandre, director of photography for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, when I asked him about the camera work and aesthetics that go into video game-to-film adaptations. “In a game the depth and darkness are controlled by the player, but in [film], history tells us when, where, and what we can and cannot see.

Horror is an exceptionally interesting genre to watch when exploring this concept, as the cinematography tends to be much more stylized and unique. Welcome to Raccoon City is a great case study, as director Johannes Roberts made it very clear that he wanted the film to be very faithful to the original games.. “There were so many points in the movie that came straight from the game. It was quite fun having to watch a game scene as an animatic before shooting it,” said Alexander.

This push towards cinematic tributes to the games has paid off both for casual viewers and fans of the resident Evil Games. Many were eager to pick up iconic shots suited to almost 1: 1 of games, and they worked effectively as part of the film: the shot of a zombie slowly turning its neck to look at the camera with a dark, empty space looming. on him as blood flows from his mouth is just as freezing in the movie as it is in the first Resident EviI’m playing.

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On the other side of the spectrum, with the development of visual narrative video games like Supermassive Games’ The Anthology of Dark Images, imitating the cinematography of films is fundamental to establishing the tone and setting. “The games we make are very cinematic, they’re kind of playable movies,” says Will Doyle, Creative Director of Supermassive Games. “All the games of The Anthology of Dark Images link with another genre of horror. When we identify one, we go out and watch a bunch of movies first. With House of Ashes, I was very inspired by James Cameron – I wanted very wide shots with small characters eclipsed by their surroundings, small beams of torches, anamorphic reflections. We took inspiration from Sam Raimi’s POV shots – the POV shots of these creatures running towards people, hearing them growl as they do, are very inspired by Diabolical death. “

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While House of AsheS echoing the influence of a variety of films, Doyle also developed the element of exclusive control to video games that Alexander spoke of earlier regarding gamers controlling what they see. “The fact that the player is controlling the camera is something that we always have to consider [when developing the games]. For example, we can trigger things based on the positioning of the camera, which you can’t do in a movie. I feel like when you control the camera you end up scaring yourself more. Obviously, mainstream film doesn’t allow viewers to control what and when they see what’s going on. “It’s an extremely difficult task to please a player who is used to guiding his character with a joystick,” explains Alexandre. “This is also why being a director of photography on films like [Welcome To Raccoon City] is exciting because we find ways to alternate when and where you see things even when you know they are there.

But while video games can have cinematic advantages when it comes to interactivity and control, there are inherent challenges as well. “The way we shoot the game, do the composition and the editing, has to take into account a lot of variables,” says Doyle. These variables often include branching stories that depend on player choices, and which characters are still alive and guide the narrative. Personalized experiences require a higher volume of unique shots. In the case of equipment such as motion capture devices, this can be expensive and physically taxing in a way not found on traditional film sets.

As the two industries continue to evolve, the processes that lend video games the hardships of cinematography will inevitably be optimized, but what about the interactivity factor of cinema? Will interactivity always be exclusive to video games? Or could the reception of video games with narrative goals in the future influence a new style of filming in the same way that films have influenced some of the most iconic and important video game titles of the past? “I think we’ll see more experimentation,” Doyle says. “If you’re not allowing audiences to directly manipulate something live, allowing audiences to change the stream of a series is something interesting that we can see.”

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All things considered, the pendulum may continue to swing in favor of film and video games on different occasions when it comes to cinematography, but it becomes clear that the two mediums are starting to intertwine as the imagination (and technology) begins to intertwine. extends. We may be coming to a pivotal moment where the cinematography of a movie-inspired video game continues to inspire a whole new movie. This is something we’re arguably already seeing with video game-to-film adaptations. “There might be that wonderful moment that we reach where a narrative game [like The Dark Pictures] comes out, everyone loves it, Hollywood says, “Let’s make a movie with that!” And the audience says, “I prefer the game.” That would be great. “


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