Sunday, March 4, 2012

Games, Film, 3D Environments: Where Aesthetics Meet and Diverge

Games, Film, 3D Environments: Where Aesthetics Meet and Diverge

From film techniques in games, as so eloquently illustrated by Chris Solis in his analysis of Super Mario 64 to the very different kinds of camera angles and spectatorship that can occur in games, it is instructive to explore these two cultural forms in relationship to each other, and to consider how they have been mutually informing, first with film's influence on games, and now with games' influence on film. We also can include the human-computer interface.

Opening shot of Welles's Touch of Evil that Solis discusses in his blog post:

Solis writes, "So why do we introduce the camera before we introduce the main character? Simply the camera is more important then Mario in this title." Does Welles's film also introduce the camera before the character?

How has this evolved in games? In film? Why?

What does it mean to be able to navigate 3D space?  To be able to control the camera?  To split camera point of view and the character that you control?

In this frame from my film, Avatar with a Kino-Eye, made with machinima--animation captured in real time in a virtual world or other 3D game environment--the top and bottom shots show the two characters' points of view, with the scripted eye moving around to show where one of them is looking.

It is a visualization, a dramatization, of visionary Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov's 1923 ideas about the "kino-eye" (cinema-eye):

The kino-eye lives and moves in time and space; it gathers and records impression in a manner wholly different from that of the human eye.  The position of our bodies while observing our perception of a certain number of features of a visual phenomenon in a given instant are by no means obligatory limitations for the camera, which, since it is perfected, perceives more and better.

As the camera has become ubiquitous in everyday life, we've seen people using the "kino-eye" more and more as another way they can see (and remember, and communicate).  With the advent of the virtual camera in 3D environments, the filmmaker or the player has unprecedented control, and the camera can go even farther afield than Vertov ever imagined as he exulted in the possibilities in the early 1920s:

In this image, the scripted "eye" object is the plane, and I used it as a prop in a keynote presentation ( starting at 17:00) I gave at the New Media Constortium Symposium on New Media and Learning, March 2009.

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