by Donna Bulford
Another great year of E3 in downtown at the Staples Convention Center. Lots of interesting announcements and events this year. The art exhibition “Into the Pixel” continues to chronicle the ascent of console game graphics from popular culture and street cred to the rare refined air of original paintings inspired by well-known games. It’s a national sentiment, even the National Endowment of the Arts and the Smithsonian have gotten into the act with shows centered around “the art of video games” (http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/archive/2012/games/).
E3’s “Into the Pixel” is organized by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (http://www.interactive.org). Seventeen works of video game art are selected for this prestigious collection, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a game artist. It is the only juried art exhibition that brings together experts from the traditional fine art world and the interactive entertainment industry to display and discuss the art of the video game. This honor was bestowed upon "Legends of Norrath," a Sony Online Entertainment title. Director of Artistic Development at SOE Joe Shoopack knows that it takes “interesting composition” for a piece to get noticed by the Into The Pixel jury. I had a chance to speak with Joe at the SOE booth and he is a great advocate for the “motion picture as art” and “video game as art” concepts. He observes that the more the Art Department on a game or title can look at their work as an artistic vision, the more likely that a unified vision can be accomplished, and ultimately an immersive experience for the gamer.
Following in the tradition of good gaming experiences and equal great movie experiences, Frima Studios is launching a new division. I had a chance to catch up with FrimaStudio CEO Steve Couture and VP of Business Development Jeff Trembly. How does a world known casual gaming studio get into the VFX business? Naturally, with a commitment to visual excellence and original IP a VFX arm of the studio seemed like a next step. They already have a stereoscopic 3D project about Mammoth lined up and are looking for people. If you or anyone you know are interested, please go to their website and follow up: http://www.frimastudio.com. They are looking for all types of artists including texture and 3D modeling.
I also caught up with texture artist trained by Gnomon School of Visual Arts (http://www.gnomonschool.com), Melissa Altibello (http://melissaaltibello.com). Melissa’s story is another interesting example of video game, online, and cinematic worlds employing like skill sets and aesthetics. Melissa is a texture artist at game developer Naughty Dog (www.naughtydog.com). During her training at Gnomon, she assumed that she would go to work at a visual effects shop servicing film, maybe broadcast. The Gnomon alumni and teaching network was so strong she felt very in tune with the marketplace and opportunities that were available as her time approached. While she had not considered gaming, as she prepared to graduate, Naughty Dog was looking and it turned out the texture artist skill set that the gaming studio wanted matched her training as a texture artist for visual effects in film.