Cinematics, or cutscenes, are the segments of animated storytelling that are intertwined throughout a video game to further the characterization and plot (as in Halo, Final Fantasy, and StarCraft). These elements have become integral to the way studios develop games, and the production of cinematic scenes requires a designer with the necessary combination of both technical and artistic skills.
The cinematics designer works under the supervision of the creative director and producer to plan and integrate cinematic elements into regular gameplay. He or she works closely with the game writers to identify characters, objects, and environments that must be created by the art staff, and collaborates with animators to ensure that all necessary animations are built. The cinematics designer is responsible for porting scenes to the game engine and will perform in-game scripting for cinematics using the tools provided by the programmers. This person must ensure that the conversation tools are in place and functioning properly, and will conduct preliminary quality assurance testing on all integrated cut scenes. Together with the audio lead and recording engineer, the designer is tasked with seeing that recorded dialogue and sound effects are collected and imported on schedule. When necessary, he or she will determine the need for additional custom animations for cutscenes and discuss script changes with the writing staff.
Skills & Education
A college degree in computer science or game design or equivalent professional experience is required. The cinematics designer should have an in-depth knowledge of game engines and cinematic tools, as well as an understanding of game toolsets. Courses in computer programming and software engineering are beneficial, as is some background in graphic design, animation, and creative writing. Because this designer deals primarily in animated scenes, not gameplay, he or she should understand the techniques of storytelling and characterization.
What to Expect
Much of the cinematics designer’s day is spent checking in with other staff members to monitor the progress of asset creation and to participate in creative meetings. Inevitably, changes to the story line, characters, or plot sequence will pop up during production, and the cinematics designer must stay on top of the pipeline and stay involved in every step of the development process. Collaboration is crucial; in this position, you simply cannot meet your responsibilities without the efforts of animators, artists, writers, and programmers. This position is best suited to an individual who prefers to work in teams and is passionate about cooperating to develop innovative and creative concepts. As it is a senior-level role, prior experience in game design, animation, programming, or another area of game development is necessary. Where possible, look for opportunities for work in the cinematics department as a lead-in to this gig, or take entry-level positions where you may have a chance to participate in asset or tool creation for the cinematics designer.
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