Animal Crossing Movies May Be the Next Big Trend in Video Gaming

Animal Crossing Movies May Be the Next Big Trend in Video Gaming

What you need to know

Beneath all the attention on eGamers and Twitch streams, there has been a rise in new professions within the gaming industry. In-game photographers, and video game directors are at the vanguard of the industries increasing focus on art.

By Michael Chang

The career of a professional gaming athlete is often shortlived, lasting between only 15 months and five years. Most eports players are on average around 15 to 25 years old. Like traditional sports, video game competitions are extremely fierce. Many players retire to become streamers, video game trainers, or behind-the-scene staff. 

As technology has progressed, new roles within the video game industry have emerged. For example, in-game photographer, and the more encompassing in-game photography director. This might be a remarkable opportunity for gamers with a creative streak to showcase talents and interests. Animal Crossing, for instance, has been a creative platform for gamers and artists around the world. 

Photo Credit: AP / TPG Images
Signs light up as Malaysia and Vietnam battle it out during the ESports Mobile Legends Bang Bang matches at the 30th South East Asian Games in Manila, Philippines on December 5, 2019. 
The beginning of in-game photography

The earliest recognized work of in-game photography was created by the New York-based artist duo Eva and Franco Mattes in 2016. Their exhibition, Thirteen Most Beautiful Avatars, featured portraits in a virtual gallery set up in the popular video game, Second Life

However, the in-game graphics and consumer computer equipment were not as mature as what we have now. Lots of players who wanted to try in-game photography ran into issues with visual presentation and resolution.

But along with the explosive improvement in computing hardware and gaming technology, a U.S. graphics chip company NVIDIA created a powerful software named Ansel. Dubbed as the “Adobe Camera Raw for gaming,” Ansel allows gamers to pause the screen to take high-resolution screenshots and it boasts of a cornucopia of editing functions, like adjusting the camera angle and adding effects. The software is compatible with a broad swath of games, making it an obvious choice for any gamer interested in art and design.

Three in-game photographers you should know
1. Duncan Harris

Duncan Harris is a former video game journalist from the United Kingdom, now the most renowned in-game photographer in the industry. He’s collaborated with big names like Sony and EA Games. His every work of art goes through countless adjustments of light and angle for visual optimization. Many of his works have become images prominent in the games’ promotional materials. 

2. Leonardo Sang
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Leonardo Sang, a graphic designer and photographer, said he applies the same “real world” process when he takes photos in video games. Open-world games like Grand Theft Auto V, for example, allow Sang to roam around and take snapshots. The artist said the in-game gas stations at night are one of his favorite places for photos. 

Since 2011, Sang has collaborated with another game photographer Robert Overweg in the Virtual Reality Photography (VRP) project. It’s an archive full of well-composed, imaginative video game screenshots that are close to reality. 

3. Rasmus Furbo

Rasmus Furbo cut his teeth as a graphic designer. Since Furbo had an abiding interest in light and shadow and composition, he perfected in-game photography techniques very quickly. He captured breathtaking shots from God of War and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, among other classics. His Spiderman series even earned praise from the game’s UI/UX director Gil Doron.

A video game director on Animal Crossing: Brian Hwu

Aside from the three above mentioned video game photographers, a YouTuber named Brian Hwu is emerging as a video game director. Using Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Hwu filmed a series of horror and sci-fi movie trailers. 

A real life production would have required a film crew involving a director, a cinematographer, a score composer, production designers, among others. Hwu filmed these in-game videos on his own. 

He also made a YouTube tutorial to share his filming technique with viewers. To create a horror movie trailer, Hwu used in-game furniture and items to design his sets and create artificial lighting (e.g. a shark tank provides a subtle, eerie glow in the dark). One of his actors was the notorious villager Pietro, a clown-faced sheep, who was perfect for the creepiest expressions. 

Hwu even demonstrated the differences in color temperature between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the best light effects (one of Animal Crossing’s unique aspects is in-game time synchronizes with that of the real world). The fruits of Hwu’s labor can be seen in the opening wedding scene of the trailer Wild World, where he makes use of the natural morning light. 

It’s this attention to detail that makes Hwu’s work worthy of multiple viewings. His horror series is bound to further stimulate gamers to delve into the artistic side of game design, becoming amateur, or even professional in-game photographers themselves. 

A career in the video game industry can be so much more than being an eSport athlete. In-game photography and direction can be the next frontier. 

This article was authorized for translation by every little d.  See the original article in Mandarin here

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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