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Monolith Soft Discusses Process



At this year's Tokyo International Computer Graphics Festival(TIGRAF), representatives from three major game companies came to comment on the use of CG in games today. Each company gave hour-long individual presentations before coming together for a group discussion to close out the evening.

Monolith Soft started the day's events with the three-man team of CEO Hirohide Sugiura, art director Norihiro Takami, and effects artist Taizo Inukai. The trio gave some insight into the process behind the CG used in their games. Pointing to the increasing expense of utilizing CG in a game, the panel revealed a well-defined development process. Initially a storyboard and soundtrack are created to get an overall sense of where the scene is heading. With those two preliminary elements out of the way, a short animated version of the scene is used as a rough draft. The example presented was a simple monochrome line art animation. Animators then take the rough draft and decide on camera angles and placement of the motion capture actors. While the characters and actors do not have to share gender or age with the subjects they are portraying, it is important that they have the same stature and body language. It was also pointed out that this process encompasses the majority of the CG development of human forms. The only exception is unnatural movement such as flight, which is still done by hand.

Following the conclusion of the first video, Taizo Inukai began speaking about the effects used in CG. He divided each of the effects into three categories: nature, which is comprised of wind, rain, and clouds; man-made, which includes machinery, lighting effects, and beam weapons; and the supernatural, which involves magic and ghosts. To demonstrate these ideas the effects artist showed a video of two sorcerers with their auras glowing, battling. Commenting that "[T]his scene would have much less tension without these elements," Inukai finished his segment of the presentation.

The hour concluded with a question and answer session with all three representatives. A member of the audience asked if there would be any difference in the CG of the next installment of Xenosaga as compared to the first because of technological advances. The art director Norihiro Takami replied, "Actually, advances in technology aren't as important as our own increasing know-how," and pointed out that CG is a tool that takes practice to master.

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