The main focus for a video game cinematic artist is to design, create and edit the video game background scenes, essentially creating the game’s “world.” Just as in movie cinematography, video game cinematic artists need to make the scenes of the game flow smoothly, continuously engaging the user. Many levels in modern video games are lapsed with short but important clips where characters tell stories or offer guidance to progress the game.
Successful video game cinematic artists have a very strong sense of composition. They’re in-tune to the pace, timing, dialogue, camera movements, and overall “flow” of the game. It’s also important for video game cinematic artists to have experience in managing and directing actors, as they’re often used to evaluate or replicate facial expressing and body movements mimicked in the game. This process is called motion capture, also known as mocap, and requires knowledge of shooting techniques including scene lighting and camera angles. Common software tools used by video game cinematic artists include Maya and Motion Builder.
The visual effects produced in modern video games are becoming increasingly more impressive and highly regarded, as are those people who create them. The VES Awards, an annual ceremony hosted by the Visual Effects Society honoring cinematic artists and visual effects practitioners, is one of the highest complements you can receive as a video game cinematographer alongside the VGA Awards. Last year’s recipients included the Halo: Reach team for Outstanding Real-Tim Visual Effects in a Video Game, and the StarCraft II – Sarah Kerrigan team for Outstanding Animated Character in a Video Game.
Video Game Cinematic Artist Salary*
Video game cinematic artists with little experience earn on average $65,000 per year. As experience on multiple projects is gained, their salary can increase to over six figures. Senior cinematic artists make on average $96,000 per year.
*According to Indeed.com
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