Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Useful videos for game creation class

The DVD of the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) has some videos that can be instructive to game creation students. This was the first major movie to be made almost entirely with CG but with live actors. It was shot on a set in the UK using green and blue screens and few props, then CG was wrapped around the actors to show locations as diverse as Shangri-La and out-of-doors in a major city being attacked by giant robots.

What makes it especially applicable is that the writer-director had worked for years to create the movie, including four years to make a 6 minute short (starting with an Apple II, later with a better machine). That short is one of the videos, and can be seen as a particularly successful portfolio/demo. (It's also instructive that he could get a producer to look at it because his brother's wife knew the producer socially from having been to college together.) It is remarkable for the technology of the time, and imaginatively stylish to boot.

There are also two videos (Chapter 1 and Chapter 2) about the making of the movie. The second is particularly good because, I think, it shows the kind of mentality that often exists when a company is making a AAA game, right down to working hours past midnite and everyone pulling together in difficult circumstances.

This is a prime example of how, on rare occasions, a person conceives something that comes to fruition despite major obstacles and the sheer unliklihood that it will get done. My students (most of them high school age this term, though in college classes) watched with great attention, which is VERY unusual.

(The movie nearly made its budget in the US, but was not widely regarded as successful, so the writer-director has not yet had another movie credit. Unfortunately, the plot gets exceptionally dumb at some points, and the acting occasionally wanders despite presence of three Academy Award winners. But it is amazing technically. It's 1:46 long, I showed much of it on the day before Thanksgiving when many of the students were thinking about anything but school, after the videos (I'd showed the remarkable 6 minute short the day before).)

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