Greetings, readers of the PlayStation blog! My name is Johan Vinet, and I am the creator of Lunark, a pixel-art sci-fi action game that pays homage to the 2D cinematic platformers of the 1990s.
Cinematic platformers sought to immerse players by depicting realistic, methodical character mobility governed by the laws of physics. Classics like Jordan Mechner’s Prince of Persia, Eric Chahi’s Out of this World, and Paul Cuisset’s Flashback achieved this realism through detailed and lifelike animations, as well as rotoscoped cutscenes that rewarded players by punctuating key gameplay moments while also creating a unique and recognizable visual style.
Rotoscoping is a technique that was used to create realistic animations before motion capture, which traditionally involved painstakingly tracing film footage frame-by-frame. Fortunately, modern technology has made rotoscoping much more accessible. With a touch of creativity and the aid of a smartphone and graphics tablet, I was able to use this “lost art” to help bring Lunark to life.
Here is a breakdown of my workflow for producing the cutscenes of Lunark.
Step 1: Storyboarding
Creating a storyboard is the first step. This determines the overall look and feel of the cutscene, including characters, camera angles, and key actions.
Step 2: Planning
After storyboarding, I move on to the planning stage, where I choose filming locations (most of them being my home), props, and determine whether 3D modeling is necessary. In one scene, for instance, I found that it was quicker and yielded better results to make a “crystal” out of cardboard (and covering it with transparent adhesive to make it reflective) rather than modeling it in 3D!