Jon Landau at the Austin Game Conference

Elizabeth Harper
E. Harper|09.07.06

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Jon Landau at the Austin Game Conference
Elizabeth Harper is covering the MMO-heavy Austin Game Conference for Joystiq and our WoW-obsessed friends at WoW Insider.

What's well-known film producer Jon Landau doing at a game conference? I'm glad you asked, because I have the answers -- or at least, Landau did during his keynote today. Gaming, Landau explained, is an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry. And there's a lot in common with a good game and a good film -- they're both about creating compelling characters and stories, told in an equally compelling setting. The difference is that a film tells a single story, while a game (specifically an MMO) can tell countless stories. So read on for more on his morning keynote.

Okay -- I imagine you're probably still asking what Jon Landau is doing at a game conference. So, more specifically, he's talking about technology used in movies and games, as well as how we might see further integration between the cinematics on the big screen and the games we play at home.

In film, technological innovation has always been key. As an example, Landau cites James Cameron's Terminator movies. When Cameron was preparing to write the script for Terminator, he realized the technology did not exist in 1984 to tell the story he wanted to tell. Thus, he broke the story in two parts -- an original that was doable with the existing technology, and a sequel that would be produced later, hopefully when the technology had caught up. (And by 1991 the capabilities existed to create the T2 the way Cameron envisioned it.)

In the future, Landau is looking towards more technological advancement, and particularly speaks of a virtual production environment that blurs the line between pre-production, production, and post production. Performance capture (not motion capture -- because the goal is to capture all the subtleties of an actor's movements, rather than simply the gross motion) will bring all of the players into a film environment that the director can view on a screen, rendered in a fashion not unlike today's games. (As opposed to full quality cenematics that will be created for the final feature release.)

And if the filmmaker already has the 3d data on all of its characters and locations? That only makes it easier for a game developer to hook in to the existing intellectual property and build on it. The visuals the filmmaker uses to shoot a movie can literally be in the game. And the game can provide an in-depth and sustaining experience that the film cannot -- the filmmaker can present his own story in film, while the game developers can tell myriad stories and provide players with new characters to interact with and locations to explore. Together, they complement each other.
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