Saturday, 4 August 2012

Simon Says: Creativity is Imagination

"A lot of the time people don't know what they want until you show it to them" - Steve Jobs

That quote entered my world when Simon Wood, production designer on the computer game L.A. Noire, spoke at a BAFTA event earlier this week. More on that here

Simon had a lot of things to say about Creativity and Design, so I thought I would share some of those insights with you.

Simon Says:

  • The primary requirement for creativity is Imagination.
  • Generic Art appeals to no one, Specific Art gets opinions (even if those are negative opinions)
  • Art Direction is about creating emotions, eg. comfort, familiarity, discomfort, fear.
  • Justify everything. Things you see are there for a reason - they have been placed, dropped, they have fallen or crumbled...
  • Always as Why Why Why. Simon used the example of a Spoon - if someone tells you to build a spoon, you should come up with at least 21 questions immediately such as "is it a metal or a wooden spoon? old or new? a clue? engraved or plain? has it got food on it and if so what food?" etc
  • "People look but they don't see". Simon showed us a few photographs - one flipped, one with the "no entry" street sign facing the wrong way - and pointed out how it's important to see the details.
  • If you want a job from Simon, you have a whole 15 seconds to grab his attention with your portfolio. And apparently this can be done by "thinking differently". Do something unusual. Add a twist to familiar design. Draw a straight line in the air with your finger (do it, now) - did you draw vertical or horizontal? Lines can go any direction.
  • You can do whatever you want as long as a) it fills the brief, b) it's justified, c) it works.
  • Be wary when people tell you your work is good - be your own harshest critic.
Simon ended his entertaining and insightful talk with an inspirational quote from Joan of Arc - 

"I am not afraid, I was born to do this."

You can see a video of Simon answering BIG QUESTIONS here on the BAFTA Guru Website.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

LA Noire & Production Design

"Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will get you everywhere" - Albert Einstein

A quote L.A. Noire production designer Simon Wood likes to use around programmers. Simon hosted a BAFTA masterclass at The Hospital Club last night and walked an enthralled audience through the process of creating a digital world that would take the players of Rockstar's acclaimed game back in time to the classic Los Angeles of Film Noir.

Simon's team created an impeccably detailed and highly filmic World using hundreds of reference images sourced from Hollywood studios, Archives and some crazy guy who took aerial photography of millionaire's homes in order to sell it to them!

Did you know that images from the game hold up equally beautifully in Black & White? This was intentional. Simon believes that images get their quality from light and if you get that right then the picture will work - colour is the second thought.

Aside from this L.A. Noire was considered revolutionary in its use of motion capture for facial animation. Have a look at this behind the scenes video: