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Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Art Direction

An art director is the person who is in charge of the overall look of the game. They have the vision of the whole games atmosphere. They work closely with the game designer in bringing the vision of the game to life. The look of the world is very important; therefore the Art director’s role is a very big responsibility. They must work with a diverse team of other artists, overseeing their work and communicating closely with them so that the game may be developed in the atmosphere the game is to be set.

Art direction for games is an extremely crucial part of their development. Everything from the environment to the characters must be thought and planned out; they must be designed to fit in with the game in specific ways, to enhance the world and atmosphere in general. Certain levels have to have certain moods, and these can be created by carefully deciding on things like colours, lighting, sounds, textures etc. Will it be a scary moment in the game? What can we do to make the player feel scared? Make it dark; make odd shapes and colours stand out in specific ways to lead their attention. Everything must be thought of and carefully tweaked to get the desired effect.

Art direction in games and films are quite similar. For example, the environments can be designed for a specific purpose, for enhancing the story or setting the stage for a particular event. One difference though is the amount of control the art directors have on the audience/gamers point of view. In films, you can control everything, if you want them to look at a certain building, and make the building look important by changing the camera angle, you can do this in a film. You lead the audience where ever you want, and they have only to watch. Also, there is technically less thinking involved when watching a film. In games however, the art director has to think about how the world is viewed from almost every angle. Of course, some games can have fixed camera angles; let’s not forget Resident Evil and Alone in the Dark! They were very much like films, fixing the camera in clever ways that make rooms look bigger, and corridors more imposing.  But the main difference is that the player has a little more freedom to see what they want to see. Therefore, the art director has to make sure that the mood and settings within the world stay the same no matter where the viewer is looking. Obviously in different areas, it can change for effect.

To be an art director, I think the key skills are communication, leadership, organisational skills. Also, the ability to evaluate others’ work, and give constructive criticism. I think they would be important since as the art director, you will be leading the other artists, communicating and collaborating with them to achieve the overall goal. I think you would have to have these skills, and have a strong team like approach to the project, respecting each of those on the team, and working together in an organised manner. For me, I think my communication skills may need to be developed a little further. I do have good organisational skills, and I think I would be confident in setting up goals for each person and organising things that way.

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