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Industria / Mercado - Malta

Informe de industria: Realidad virtual

En la Malta Film Week, los expertos hablan sobre la convergencia entre videojuegos y cine

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Durante el debate, los profesionales trataron varios temas, como la producción virtual, los motores de juego y las mutaciones del mercado

En la Malta Film Week, los expertos hablan sobre la convergencia entre videojuegos y cine
(i-d): Matthew Pullicino, Sam Nicholson, Ivan Filetti, Giuseppe Scavo, Olly Nicholson y el moderador

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

On 27 January, Floriana’s Phoenicia Hotel hosted one of the panels of the inaugural edition of the Malta Film Week (24-29 January 2022), a brand-new industry event organised by the local film commission. In detail, the debate explored the intersections between the gaming and film industries.

The first speaker, Unity TechnologiesOlly Nicholson, talked through how gaming has been veering more and more towards storytelling, and has been forced to familiarise itself with and borrow tools from the film industry — these include shots, camera angles, filters, depth of field and, of course, direction. When he joined Unity, the company used to build very expensive games that were hardly profitable, but the real revolution came in when the engine was brought to life and allowed developers to render in real time and apply tweaks directly in-game, after pressing the ‘play’ button, saving time and resources.

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Sam Nicholson of Stargate Studios added that, currently, “games are getting more photo-real by the minute,” whilst “film, on the other hand, is getting faster and becoming real time,” thanks in particular to the new developments brought by virtual production. He also touched upon the challenges actors and directors might face in experiencing and interacting with a “virtual” or “imagined” space, but the benefits still outweigh the struggles.

BAFTA-nominated US animator Kyle Balda (who attended remotely) spoke about the market shift seeing more and more video-game IPs being adapted for the small and big screen, instead of the opposite process. Intersections between gaming and films are also affecting 3D animated productions — specifically, Balda mentioned the example of the DoP being divided into two different roles, namely the head of layout and the head of light. The reason lies in the animation pipeline, wherein the head of layout takes care of aspects such as the mise-en-scene and the camera lens, but doesn’t end up handling lighting. “It’s a shame, the two people composing the picture need to talk more to each other, but their roles are separated,” he said, and explained that, ideally, an animator should animate a scene where the light has already been set up. He also praised Blender, which — similarly to Unity — is a “free software on par with any of the ones used by major studios,” where he can play in real time and watch the animation, though without all the texture and lighting setups.

Giuseppe Scavo, of Draw & Code, spoke about the challenges of VR and AR technologies in storytelling. For example, overloading the user with a lot more visual information makes directing their attention crucial — and not just in terms of “visual cues” but also in terms of sounds and, one day, “haptics, pressure or temperature,” and how these can change the users’ emotions and their level of interactivity. Subsequently, the way movies are shot, rendered and shown is also going to change, including the environment wherein users consume a given piece of content. Among other future challenges Scavo mentioned, he spoke about VR and AR’s problems in rendering high-fidelity content and thus reaching photorealism — a key element for immersion — since these are often accessed through portable devices.

On the topic of virtual production, Matthew Pullicino of Stargate Studios said that what will help productions is to access pre-visualisation tools and prep material allowing actors to rehearse on a stage. He mentioned that, in general, it is tough to introduce similar innovations in European filmmaking, but is confident things will change, even if this might take quite some time.

Finally, Ivan Filetti talked about the role of the Gaming Malta Foundation, set up by the country’s government and the local gaming authority. The body is tasked with the remit of promoting the archipelago as a hub in the remote gaming sector globally and liaising with the local authorities to improve its attractiveness as a jurisdiction, while enhancing the ecosystem surrounding the gaming industry. He also announced the country will host a Unity Centre of Excellence where, over the next two years, 20 lecturers will train 400 certified students.

A Q&A session rounded off the event.

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