Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bridging Cinematography and Videogame Aesthetics

Last night, I watched a talk with Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut who was the Director of Photography for the movie "Act of Valor." This feature was shot almost exclusively on the Canon 5D mkii when it first came out. In fact, in his talk he mentioned times when bringing out their film camera attracted way more attention than they needed from passersby. With such a compact camera, Shane accomplished getting shots that he described as more "immersive" than anything we've ever seen before, which is what made the movie so unique. The camera team literally strapped 14 pound helmets on these Navy Seals with the 5D attached and ended up with really intimate and energetic shots. Some of them even reminded me of the first person shooter POV you see in Call of Duty and Halo. This was just an observation that connected in my mind. It was interesting to gauge my reaction when watching the same angle in a feature within a different context that is also used interactively within video games. I felt an even more heightened sense of excitement because I was literally in the middle of this group of Seals. I also experiences heightened tension and suspense from these POV shots as well because I was not the one in control of what the Navy Seals were doing whereas I would be pretending I was Rambo in Call of Duty. I think it's cool how similar visual language in two different mediums can achieve the same "immersiveness"and yet create two very different experiences.

Here's a link to some photos from set and you can see how they rigged this camera to get some crazy shots.


  1. I guess that brings up the debate of whether better experience equals better interactivity through graphics. I personally think it can, but I think the narrative and gameplay is also important.

    The gameplay in call of duty builds suspense and requires you to work in teams, which adds to the overall interactivity on top of the graphics.

  2. Blog #10: A Response to "Bridging Cinematography and Videogame Aesthetics"

    I actually think that this link between cinematography and gameplay is part of a growing trend in film. Your description of feeling more immersed because the camera acted as the Seals' POV reminds me of the film "Children of Men" by Alfonso Cuarón. While not intentional (at least, I don't think), the use of extremely long takes during elaborate action sequences reminds me of the way in which good action gameplay can immerse the player into the world of a game. In addition, the film "Inception" owes very much to video game aesthetics. The various dream levels are largely reminiscent of the way in which levels function in video games. Furthermore, the entire last sequence in which DiCaprio's team assaults the base in the snow is entirely taken from Modern Warfare 2. I think it is only a matter of time until the film industry begins openly acknowledging this reciprocal relationship between games and film.

  3. I think it's already starting, especially with commercials like these.