Industry Industry Insight – Episode #2 : Robert Stoneman

Who are you and what do you do in the video games industry?

My name is Robert Stoneman, I’m a Senior Cinematic Designer/Artist – I’m basically a “Virtual Cinematographer” I control all creative cinematic aspects inside of marketing trailers & in-game cutscenes (you know the ones you skip!!) – from the way the camera moves and looks to the mood of the lighting. I work very closely with a director of cinematics to achieve their vision. I work both in motion capture studios and also on real sets depending on what is required.

What is you favorite game, or, what game has influenced you personally the most?

The Last of Us! wow what an experience! As a cinematic guy the game screamed it! From the gameplay to their cutscenes. It really showed emotion, it’s rare to get this inside of games. We’re always told “We’re making a game not a movie” and I hate that because we’re making a story and cinematics push that experience. Asking for extra assets to achieve emotion through a cut scene can be hard, especially if you’re going to take away control from the player, it’s got to push story and emotion that cannot be done in game play. The Last of Us really shows that with the extra detailed effort and fantastic talent, emotional cut scenes work. This really has influenced me to raise that quality bar in my work today.

What kind of project(s) are you working with at the moment?

I’m working on a few high profile games & trailers at the moment! They’ve not been announced yet. Sorry! My latest work is within the recently released game Total War: Warhammer.

Checkout his Chaos Trailer:

What is the best thing about your job(s)? What is the worst?

There is so much I love about what I do, from working on all aspects of cinematics like editing, camera and direction to the talent I work with. But the top brass of it is the growing technology aspect of it all. There is 125 years of film experience, so on the cinematic side of the game industry we’ve now just started to learn from that. When you watch a film or TV series you expect the same quality in our cut scenes and trailers.

When I was at Crytek I got to play around with virtual cameras and performance capture, real state of the art technology. This is where we can have say 7 actors, all with facial capture, body capture, audio guy and a camera operator in a virtual set. Allowing the director to give better direction and scene control, it’s fantastic technology! It also showed that game companies are investing into cinematics. The worst part of my job?.. Well I get paid to do what I love so I really can’t complain, there are ups and downs but nothing I can pin point… Sometimes when i’m really into my work I drink all of my tea and that can be the worst because there is no more tea for me to drink…

What kind of projects are you going to be working with in the future? What would you like to do or work on if you could choose; do you have any dream projects?

I’m looking into advanced virtual cinematography projects at the moment, something where I can really get my teeth into when it comes to interactive storytelling and digital acting. I would love to get more into the advanced character animation side of cut scenes, I feel roles for cinematic design in the industry are merging so knowing your cinematography and character animation is a huge advantage.

What can video games offer that no other medium/art/tools can?

The pure Interactive storytelling aspect of games, allowing you to be the character. When you watch a film or series you are there as the audience, just being told a story. Where as games put you in the experience. You are making the situations happen, or the situations are happening to you. It’s not easy to pull off, but when it’s done right there is no experience like it.

Thank you Robert for your interview!

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