Friday, 17 February 2012

Art Direction

The Art Director has the most important role within a game developer. They has just as much responsibility as a film director, just none of the credit that goes along with being a film director. Art directors are responsible for making sure the game has a standard visual style across the board to make for a more believable and immersive game. Characters, buildings and props are just some of the objects they will scrutinise. Even a little brick on the ground would go through the art director to make ensure its up to scratch with the rest of the environment. Is it the right size for the structure? Does the material match the time frame? Would it really crumble into those pieces if a tank went over it? These are just some question an art director will ask himself. If that is some of the questions they’ll ask over a brick imagine what they’ll do to the protagonist or the main level. They go through all of this effort to make all these assets, like foliage, buildings, props and characters as believable to the story and spirit of the game too enhance the overall experience for the player.

Uncharted 3 : Drake's Deception has some of the best art direction i have seen to date in a game

Art direction in games isn’t too different from films, different medium but same principle. Directors in each field both do the same, making sure the visual style is standard across the film/game, be it characters or buildings. As films generally have bigger budgets then games, art directors can go to more lengths to nail down that visual style they're aiming for, like location scouting. Having the ability to go to a real locations to get the correct visual vibe for a scene does wonders for the immersion and believability of the film. But as games are becoming more and more popular, budgets are increasing, which means the art directors from AAA studios can do the same research as their film counterparts, such as location scouting. Art directors and a team of artist will visit a location and take many photographs and videos of the environment (For example) to get the best quality 3d assests. Motorstorm developer “Evolution Studios” went to these length to get life like environments for their race tracks. Taking thousands of hi res pictures and hours upon hours of full HD video. If you want to hear more about this, take a look at this link:

Art directors are really at the top of the artistic food chain. So if anyone wants to peruse that godly like role then they have to do one thing: work, work hard, work so hard on art that they shit art after eating an art sandwich. 

Most art directors, have a somewhat relative art skill and have worked their way up the food chain from a 3D artist to an art director in 10 or so years because of that magic word, work. They need to be on top of their game technically and artistically. If a new piece of software comes out, they are the first ones to get hold of it. A conference is coming up, they’ll be there. They're worst enemy just released a AAA game, they’ll play it. All of these things help art directors become the best at the role. Having strong drawing skills is a most too, as this is how the art director will communicated his ideas to the set team for example.

Being able to quickly get your idea across by drawing is a lot more cost and time effective way of exploring ideas rather than just jumping straight into creating the environment,character etc.. As they might relise half way through building a set and saying 'oh wait, this doesnt actually work, tear it down and start again'.

The role of an art director isn’t just insuring every bit of art flows the same, but its also to manage people and time. Key skills they’ll demonstrate is leadership, they want to lead their team to success, the can only do this if they are good leaders. This is complimented by great communication skills.