Games and Films – High Production Values

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This week is the 24th year of the E3 video games convention in Los Angeles, and the major studios have all been running their press conferences with updates and new releases. If anyone is still in doubt about the high production values in the current crop of major titles then the trailers released this week need to be watched and lessons learnt. The Death Stranding trailer (scroll down on link) is getting comment.

Across our projects and workshops we have been exploring the theme of convergence in the industry between game tech, film and TV. Yes of course there is CGI, but games tech now is far more now than SFX. We saw a glimpse of this new trend starting a few years ago when Super Mario Brothers and later Tomb Raider (aka Lara Croft) the game led to the movie. Similarly Spidey and our other superheroes from graphic novels and comics. Games are no longer always a follow-on.

Image Credit: Death Stranding

But, I suggest, we are only a few moments away from the 90-minute trailer for a game, at which point have films, at least the ‘blockbusters’, become no more than ad trailers for the game. Imagine a major games studio commissioning an expert player to live-capture a 90-min sequence at the top of their game for theatrical release. Expert players already earn income, some a decent amount, from their subscription online video broadcasts from a “spare room studio”, with cinematic playthroughs such as Machinima, Firewatch, Until Dawn online.

We can also imagine the audience – for high-energy relaxing play the game; for low-energy relaxing watch 90 minutes of expert gameplay, and the crucial point is that we are not just admiring how fast they shoot the baddies, we are watching a 4k technorama character-driven story explore the richest depths of the game, and yes including action sequences. On TV even Poirrot is made to run sometimes!

Image Credit: Agatha Christie - The ABC Murders

The critical viewer can still see greenscreen and an eager use of wind machines in film, viz Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul, and the same critical viewer can still spot onrail film sequences embedded in games. But the gap is closing fast, converging you might say.

Games and TV – The Beautiful Game

And in the week that the football (or soccer, USA) World Cup starts, a moment to think about game tech and TV. The real-time use of tech within live sports broadcasts is now a craft to behold with respect and wonder. If anything, TV is converging with game tech much faster than film, and at the top end it is with very high skills. The cutting edge at the moment is trying to use AI for automatic ultra-rapid camera steering in ball games, tennis probably being first to TX. The economics make sense: if $ for $ the games industry is 9x the value of film, then sport is still earning more.

Which, finally, might lead you to wondering where does the indie games studio fit in?

Creative IP is the short answer. The big studios – across film, TV, game – can all put together teams of 290 to bash out another blockbuster, Call of Spidey 27, or whatever. The credit roll is ten minutes, even if only the cleaners see it. But the cool twist, the character that slips into your dreams, the unheard voice, the strange game dance even, the hairstyle (you know the go-to example here), the new social mix, these are all fertile ground for indie studios to plough and grow new crops.

And watch this space for more blogging on ‘our’ CE supported football video games by indie studios in the North.

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