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[Journal] Cinematic Design, all about Storytelling

[Journal] Cinematic Design, all about Storytelling
Cinematic and Sequencer in Unreal

In 2022 I had the opportunity to work in the Cinematic Design team at Firesprite Playstation, changing also my title inside of the company to help and develop Cinematics for games. That was where I switched from the Art department to Design. I was chasing this opportunity for about 8 months, I wanted to learn more about cinematics since I was a Filmmaker in the past and I worked in a lot of films, shorts and marketing content back in London, mainly as Film Editor and Color grader and as a Camera too, between 2017 and 2021. With this opportunity I could put together both worlds, my film and videogames experience so I saw it as a great chance for me since everything I do is about storytelling.

In case you don't know what a Cinematic Designer does, basically they are charge of the structure of the cinematics of the game, creating and putting everything and everyone in position and adding blockouts animations to previsualize the scenes, mainly using blockouts following the director guidelines so the animators and the camera artist has a base to work after. Depending on the position and the job the guidelines to follow are more or less flexible, if you don't have a high position proposing or using your own ideas rarely is a thing since everything comes from narrative, design and cinematic directors.

This is how Cinematic Designers sees the levels since they start very early in production

My film experience was a great portfolio to demonstrate those skills but I also decided to do a project for myself in Unreal to show up my skills with the engine in terms of design, since previously all my game work where focus on environments. That project was Saga, project that you can see in this web or Artstation if you prefer.

You can also have a look to my previous website where I have some portfolio related to Filmmaking: https://franvergaradev.wixsite.com/my-site

So with that, I started a journey in Cinematic Design, which of course I can't talk about. Frustrating, I know. That's exactly why I decided to do a Cinematic Design Showreel to show some of those skills. Of course it mainly shows the artistic side of the role since most of it it's not visible, so it looks pretty much as a Cinematic Artist showreel. Tasks like technical sequencer administration, organization between teams, breakdowns, tools, workflows, documentation and its integration with other departments, this is something you can talk about during interviews but not show it on you reel. Creating this showreel has been helpful, although I can't replicate a breakdown of an AAA studio on my own. I used some environments from the marketplace and I created other ones, I even did some animations as well.

I did it in a month. It was born from the need to get something done that I can actually show since working for AAA makes you don't have any portfolio at all for a very long time. AAA projects are long and tedious, so it's very difficult to show your current skills or work until the companies release the content years after, or months if you're lucky. Sometimes you are not even allow to show it.

Even if I can't talk about what I'm doing, I wanted to write a bit about my experience as a Cinematic Designer. It could be a tricky position since it varies from one studio to another because the requirements could be different. In smaller studios, probably the animators are in charge of anything related to cinematics and they can do everything. On medium sizes studios you can see how the position splits between Animators and Camera/Cinematic Artists already, which are also in charge of what I'm doing at Playstation. In big studios you also can see how Camera/Cinematic Artist splits again so we have Camera Designers or even Technical Cinematic Designers. Depends on the studio size or depends of the product.

If you want to learn about the role I put here some resources that you can find useful:

The Cinematics of 'Horizon Forbidden West

Game Cinematics: Production, Pipelines and Workflows

The Cinematic Process Behind 'God of War'

The Art Of Cinematic Videogames

Cinematic and Sequencer in Unreal

Thanks for reading!