The Convergence of Games & Movies

This huge presentation, titled The Convergence of Games & Movies, was brought to Mundos Digitales 2019 by Treehouse Ninjas and presented by Mauro Frau, the studio's creative director and co-founder.

The talk focuses on the way videogames are more and more incorporating the cinematic elements from movies' visuals, while movies are more and more incorporating real-time and game tech into their creative workflows.

It also features a behind-the-scenes look at The Heretic short movie by Unity (which Treehouse Ninjas created the environments of, back in 2018) as an example of a realistic movie created with game technology.

With today's saturation of both movie and game contents - aka new movies and games that just carry on exploiting the same old ideas and franchises, the two industries coming together might spark a new generation of hybrid products that will give more freedom to the creators and more fun to players and audiences out there. This presentation is packed with valuable thoughts and inputs as a result of 20+ years of Mauro's experience in and out of both the vfx and the game industry.

It's mainly addressed to professionals and people with either game or movie industry experience, but overall the gains from watching it are:

  • If you're a student: to get a better understanding of where games and movies are going as industries, apply for jobs more consciously of what could be your industry value and, most importantly, validate how futurable vs expendable the role you're aiming for is, considering the years to come.
  • If you're a professional: to get a proper organic view over a lot of current changes that affect your work, like the advent of realtime in movies, emergent/procedural storytelling and game design, AI, universalization of tools, formats, scene descriptions, workflows and more. These things all affect each other, so this presentation orchestrates what's going on with our industries to create a gestalt that is more than the sum of its parts.
  • If you're an entrepreneur: to gain a vantage point and anticipation elements on which trajectory the two industries are taking. Don't expect any sure-fire formula, but an expert view over some layered facts that are changing both industries, and the way they are interconnected might not be that immediate. This presentation will help formulate a clearer industry 'weather forecast'.

PART I

Story-Driven & Story-Driving Environments

The first chapter is an introduction to the contents of the talk. It presents in a glance how the game and the movie industries have evolved in the last two decades by comparing how it changed the way people learn the craft, apply for work and start their first job.

Then it elaborates on the fundamental concept of Marshall McLuhan's warm & cold media, which sets the background for the following chapters, but before, it showcases Mauro's professional journey in the industry from the nomadic vfx life to co-founding his independent studio Treehouse Ninjas.

The second chapter is packed with behind the scenes and making-of contents from The Heretic short movie, first released by Unity as a teaser at GDC 2019, which Treehouse Ninjas developed the environment art of in 2018. It's a deep case study on one of the first high-end attempts at creating a fully realistic movie entirely inside of game tech. Full of interesting insights and parallelisms between the reality of gamedev and moviemaking.

PART II

Games & Movies: Blurring The Lines

Here is a look at the compared history of movies and games. A side-by-side timeline of how the two industries evolved through the stages of the young industry, growing industry, mature industry, and saturating the industry. The focus is then mainly on the current times we're living in and how to deal with the generational change by comparing the transitional versus the timeless ingredients of good entertainment.

Then you'll get a quick view over the most up-and-coming techs that might affect the entertainment industry, followed by a comparison of the current venues we go to, the devices we use at home, we carry or wear to experience story-driven entertainment and their characteristics.

The last chapter is about storytelling and the compared grammar of games vs movies. How a story gets structured based on acts versus quests, building story arcs when the contents are linear versus when they are interactive, procedural storytelling, emergent storytelling, and more. This is where the juice of Part II is.

PART III

Games & Movies: Approaches For Their Shared Future

This is where things start getting a bit more veteran-oriented. The first chapter of the third part is all about the workflows and project management thoughts: how productions are organized in games and in movies, and what the two industries can gain by merging the best of both worlds.

The chapter closes with a view over where both industries are going, through the universalization of formulas and formats, tools, standards, and approaches are lining up more and more, from studio to studio, and how AI is assisting.

The next chapter touches on a few more industry insights: how vfx artists and game artists today can take advantage of their skills if they want to change ship, the problem of sustainability of big studios versus independent small ones, managing remote workers, and the supposed menace of AI threatening humans' jobs.

The final chapter closes with some thoughts about potential future developments, especially in the field of hybrid products, such as interactive movies, more story-driven immersive games, VR experiences, emergent moviemaking, and a few more brave but grounded speculations about what the upcoming future might hold.

Treehouse Ninjas is an independent studio mainly focusing on environment art and lighting for high-end games and movies, currently working on Cyberpunk 2077 building and lighting Night City together with CD PROJEKT RED. Visit www.treehouseninjas.com for more info, or follow them on Artstation.

For more info about Unity's The Heretic and Unity Demo Team, please visit https://unity.com/the-heretic 

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Comments 1

  • Anonymous user

    "more story-driven immersive games"
    I really hope not. Story-driven means it is not player-driven, which means less actual choice and freedom given to the player. It means a reliance on scripts rather than systems, which is a lazy crutch for AAA studios who can't be bothered to work on good game design.
    Speaking for myself and many of my friends, I don't want to play a movie and I don't want to watch a game. Let movies be movies and games be games. The industry would be much better off with less Uncharted and more Prey.

    0

    Anonymous user

    ·9 days ago·

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