Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Directing Art with Art Direction

Art direction in the game production process is easily one of the key things that is naturally responsible for how the finished product will look and feel to play.  As the name suggests, Art Directors are the ones responsible for leading the way and making the key decisions on the games visual feel and style, and making sure all the elements that tie into the game work fluidly together to create a polished finished game. All of the game artists that work on a game, regardless of whether they are responsible for characters, concepts, environments or props they all answer to the Art director, as they all need to follow his vision of what he has set out for the game to ultimately be. 
Though a role that allows a lot of freedom creatively, the strength of the ideas created by the Art Director is ultimately what will make a game good or bad, as well as their ability to look at the bigger picture of their vision and be able to piece all of the game elements together into one solid Idea. Everything in the game must relate to what the Art Directors vision is, because if it doesn’t (e.g. if say, a tree is created and put in the game that has a very European influence and setting, and it’s a palm tree then its going to stand out like a sore thumb and detract from the immersive qualities the game is trying to create for the players) then the illusion of a believable world is going to be shattered. 

Storyboarding for video games is used not only to show how events
progress and happen in the game, but also how the player would
manoeuvre the character about the game world itself. 

Though Art Director’s are pretty much the same throughout whatever medium they work in (games, movies, etc) they have to make their idea adapt to whatever platform and medium they are working to, so they get their vision across as clearly as possible. For example, an Art Director working on a game would have to create Art specifications for each element going into the game, such as a detailed description on characters and props, outlining not only how they act but also illustrations and references of them and information on what the budget is for modelling each thing. As much information is provided to make the transition of the Directors vision to the game artists to the final in game rendering as smooth and seamless as possible. Art Directors who work in films do very much the same, but have to take into consideration other aspects such as location, and actual props and set pieces to utilize in the filming process. Its only until recent times have the lines between the two become blurred, as production costs now rival those of movies, as they utilise the same research into location, epic set pieces and in depth character expression that only used to be seen in the movie world. 
With movies, set pieces and capturing the action that needs to
be translated onto the big screen seems to be the main focus, though
as shown here the focus on characters and how their emotions and
expressions come across, is an equally big factor. 

I think to become an Art Director in any creative industry, you’ve got to have the ability to take your ideas and present them as clearly as possible to others. Although a strong idea will make or break a game, if it isn’t carried all the way through the development process, through solid design documents, storyboards and visual research and influences, it can lead to what was a very strong idea being turned into a crap game. 

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