Virtual photography expands the worlds of the video game

Virtual photography expands the worlds of the video game

London, like other continental capitals, is trying to carve out a niche for itself as a hub for the video game industry. Along these lines, in which the existence of a category Game Awards Within the prestigious BAFTA awards, the London Games Festival, held at the beginning of April. And, without a doubt, one of the most refreshing proposals of its seventh edition was the Virtual Photo Challengewhich aims to "celebrate the new artistic medium of virtual photography, where creators can breathe new life into the design of video games and virtual worlds."

Among the many spectacular images, the one that deserved the award according to the jury it was the work of Joe Menzies, an image captured in the Rockstar Games classic Red Dead Redemption II. It is a work that for Sindy JB, one of the most recognized figures in the community, "captured the spirit of the game perfectly". The virtual photographer, who accumulates more than thirty thousand followers among her profiles on Instagram Y Twitterconsiders that "these types of events are good for the community", since they "provide much deserved attention" to this new and thriving avenue of artistic expression.

Kathrine Hvolby, better known as Voldsby In their public profiles, they also consider these challenges to be "a great way" to showcase the work they do, especially since virtual photography is still "pretty new to the general public, even though the photo mode has been around for many years." in different games. He also defends that it is "an art form that goes far beyond the simple act of taking screenshots." Among other reasons, because what is known as virtual photography or VP is not limited exclusively to action shots, and may include intimate portraits or abstract images.

How does a casual hobby become a time and skill demanding hobby? "I started to take it seriously when I discovered the community around it," says Sindy JB. Has been publicly recognized by Rockstar Games itself, but their "great motivation" was "positive feedback from talented people," a "very supportive" community that is cited on forums like VPEclipse either TheFourthFocus and it is read in hashtags like #PhotoMode #VirtualPhotography or #VPGUnite. Voldsby goes further, emphasizing "the practically free promotion" that the constant publication of "magnificent and very creative photos" on social networks means for the games.

Petri Levälathti, who uses the alias Berduu in Twitter and Instagram, thinks that Sony "has realized that the better 'photo mode' you release, the better images the community will capture." That is the reason why, although "they are still far from perfect, often weighed down by the short distance of the camera", those that appear in some games of PlayStation They make the job quite easy. In fact, creators as renowned as Hideo Kojimaresponsible for Death Stranding or the Metal Gear saga, or Neil Druckmanco-chair of naughty dog and director of The Last of Us Part II, regularly show their sympathies towards the scene.

But where the fruits of this sense of community are most noticeable is not on consoles, where touching code is complex. The PC gives "the freedom to pretty much do whatever you want," says Berduu, "especially to people like Frans Bouma". To that same modder (modifier) thanks you for your work Sindy JB, since a game like Elden Ring, for example, "it does not have its own photo mode and thanks to its camera mod you can capture images". In addition, his tools "have some of the best features, like unlimited camera range."

"I'd say Horizon Forbidden West is one of the best games to start with in VP," reasons Sindy JB, as "it has important features that we always like to see in a photomode." Apart from the aforementioned modifications for PC, for Berduu probably the most interesting options are found "in Sony titles, with Spiderman and Ratchet & Clank in the lead". The Ubisoft company, known for such successful sagas as Far Cry or Assassin's Creed, also "has some great ones", although it does not believe that "they have surpassed the one they used in Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands, where all the basic things were but no extras silly, like facial expressions."

Voldsby has been impressed by "Horizon Zero Dawn, Death Stranding, and Ghost of Tsushima, in particular." However, even though there are "more and more cool features" in them, he still prefers "the simplicity of The Last of Us photo mode", which Part II is the one he tends to focus on the most, because he loves its atmosphere "at the same time gloomy and beautiful, with overgrown and abandoned areas," "stunning lighting," and an environment "that allows for near-realistic shots." This commitment to simplicity allows you to "emphasize your own skills and be more creative with your shots."

"I've always been interested in photography," Voldsby reveals before adding that "having basic knowledge definitely gives you an advantage" in the VP. Although there is "obviously a big difference" between the two disciplines, real and virtual, "there are many techniques that can be transferred, such as knowing how to compose, correctly using depth of field or experimenting with different light sources." For Sindy JB, "photography has been a hobby" since childhood, but although she has not practiced it professionally, she assumes that this "traditional knowledge" has helped her "become a better virtual photographer."

"I didn't buy my first camera until two years ago, so definitely not in my case," replies Berduu, who was hooked in 2014 upon seeing "fantastic Battlefield 4 footage taken by the legendary jim2point0". Yes, he alludes to the benefits of a vast cultural knowledge of the audiovisual medium, thanks for example to "digesting thousands of films over decades", which has helped him develop "a good eye and knowing what looks good" He acknowledges that "learning about focal lengths, exposure and aperture" and "mimicking certain styles of photography" can improve the skills of a good virtual photographer.

His case is interesting because this "hobby" has ended up becoming a profession. After looking at their screenshots of the Battlefield, the Swedish developer EA SAYS He proposed in 2017 "a full-time contract". That yes, for Berduu the work "is very different from what people assume". Requests come to him from the marketing department, being "sometimes very vague, sometimes more specific," and with those instructions he begins to "build the scene in the engine, using game resources and levels, often in a very unfinished". Screenshots of him end up illustrating menus, loading screens, and even advertisements for those games.

You can even go beyond photo mode and code modifications to turning your VP into a personal art project. That's how it shows Diego Speroni, a specialist in digital retouching that has many awards in the sector. This Buenos Aires resident, who lives in Madrid, approaches the discipline in an unusual way: photographing the screen with his camera and then adding processes on the computer with which he translates his usual tasks, in which he normally seeks "to obtain a more photographic result, pictorial and less digital", to another abstract language and "one hundred percent digital".

It is a "totally free" approach since it has "little technical knowledge of photography". His idea was to get "a real shot" of the game and from there, "treat it like when you go out to photograph something on the street." As inspiration, the similarity he found between "walking through game maps", those almost endless and photorealistic worlds, and "going for a walk with a camera"; processes that share the search for "something that attracts attention, like a singular light". To obtain the desired result, first use the photo mode "to adjust the frame" and then calibrate "exposure and depth of field", but without touching "color and filter, as in traditional photography".

At the moment he has albums on Behance of games like Death Stranding either Uncharted 4, but has other titles in development. From Red Dead Redemption II, for example, he is surprised by "the care that its developers put into every detail, throughout such a large map" and a light management that he defines as "admirable". Today, in addition to the Rockstar Games game, he is also photographing others like Ghost of Tsushima or The Last of Us Part II. He has titled this personal project The TenthArt to reinforce "the idea that video games are the tenth art".

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