So I recently played ‘The Order: 1886’. When I first saw the trailer for this game, I was really excited. The graphics looked amazing, and it had a cinematic quality to it that I love. When we take photos, even if they’re just headshots, we try and give them a cinematic feel. However, when the game hit the shelves it was generally panned by critics and gamers alike. One of the reviews said “If you want to make a movie, make a movie, not a video game.” Others complained that the game was far to short to justify a $60 price tag. The review scores were so polarizing that I held off on buying it for awhile, and eventually I bought it for $20.
I thought the game was awesome. It definitely had a movie vibe to it. It’s apparent they tried to combine game elements into a movie style of storytelling, and it really worked. BUT, I think I would have been angry if I’d paid $60 for the game because I beat it in just 7 hours. I feel for the developer Ready at Dawn though, you can tell they spent so much time on storytelling, graphical details, and making the game flow that the overall length of the game was sacrificed. Also, since the game is so linear, the replay value is very low. I don’t feel like I’d get anything else out of another play-through. They also made the arrogant decision to end the game on a cliffhanger, like “Of course we’re going to make another one, this game is so good, how could we not?”. Well the game didn’t sell that well due to its poor reception, and now a sequel is up in the air. This could be another promising new IP with no real conclusion due to mediocre sales. I think it would be a different story if the game had debuted at $40, but it didn’t.
I’m really happy that games are going in this direction though. My favorite games, like Metal Gear and Tomb Raider, have always tried to be cinematic in some way, and I love it when a game makes me feel like I’m playing a movie. It’s tough to find the right balance though, because if there’s to many weak mechanics and quick time events, the games feel unpolished. I only got hints of that while playing through The Order, sometimes a mechanic was introduced and I didn’t even use it again at any point in the game. I have my fingers crossed that developers like Ready at Dawn can find that sweet spot in the future, and make more cinematic games that I love.
So Rich and I are ramping up our social Media efforts. Over the post couple of years our updates have been strong in some places, but pathetic in others. I mean, we’ve posted to our Facebook page twice in the last three months, and that’s not good. The thing is that its been hard getting around to it in the beginning months of us opening our new studio, but now we’re focusing on making the time. Starting next week we’ll be posting pics almost daily across all of our social media platforms and a new blog will come out every week. I’m sure that the MILLIONS that read our blog will be thrilled! Haha. I don’t know what pic I should post on this, so here’s the intro to Silicon Valley. All posts need a visual.
A lot of people ask us how we light our photos, almost like we hold some sort of secret technique that pulls our photos into that high-quality, commercial territory. Want to know the secret? Make it up. That’s all there is to it. Of course we know the basics, like three point lighting set-ups and all that, but to get something truly unique you have to play with the lights. Standard lighting set-ups will give you photos that are clean and even, but saying, “Hey, what happens if we move this light over here and, uh, put a blue scrim over it?” is what actually keeps our images looking fresh. Also, it’s very helpful to keep track of how you light your photos. We had to start writing down how we lit our projects because customers would ask us to recreate a mood from one of our previous photos, and we’d have no idea how we did it.
Personally, I get bored pretty easily with natural light photos, so it’s nice that a lot of Spectacle’s projects use HyperSync. HyperSync is a process that lets us shoot at very high shutter speeds, while also still allowing us to capture very cool lighting effects. When we’re shooting outside we can overpower the sun and substitute it with our own lighting. I don’t like ambient light determining the looks our photos; I’m a fan of building it from the ground up. This, of course, wouldn’t make sense for a lot of projects we do like Lifestyle and culture shots, because those demand mostly natural light, but it’s great for those projects that demand a different look. Photos taken with HyperSync tend to have a very imaginative feel to them, and give our photos that should look normal a creative edge. We also surprise ourselves the most with this process. Since HyperSync involves blasting light everywhere, we come up with all kinds of crazy ways to make our photos stand out. For example, we did a fitness shoot awhile ago, and we took one of our lights, turned it all the way up, laid it on the ground behind and to the left of the subject, and aimed it at our camera. We then put up a fill light and began shooting it. We had no idea what it was going to look like, but we ended up with the image below on the very first shot.
Don’t be afraid to test new lighting set-ups! When Rich and I do a shoot we get the work that we’ve been paid for done and out of the way, and then we ask the model or customer if they wouldn’t mind sticking around to try out some different lighting styles. This way you already have a subject to photograph, and if they turn out awesome you’ll have new pics for your portfolio instead of photos just of yourself. So go put your lights everywhere and have fun!
Two weeks ago Richard Johnson and I signed a lease to our new studio. This is a big thing for us, and has been a long time coming. Rich and I met 8 years ago at a networking event for weddings, and as we handed each other our wedding portfolios we announced our hatred of being wedding photographers and videographers, and we’ve been thick as thieves ever since. A lot has changed since then, and all for the better. I left my wedding videography company to do combat photography shortly after I met Rich, and he stopped doing weddings and became a full-blown Creative Director for a multi-million dollar corporation. Some years went by like this as we honed our craft, and during that time Rich kept Spectacle safe and sound on the back burner. However, a year ago I returned from far away lands and Rich and I decided it was time for a big change of pace. We rebranded Spectacle, committed to it full time, and created some awesome works. Over the last year we’ve gained an unbelievable amount of momentum, one of Rich’s projects even ended up being showcased in Washington D.C. by UNAIDS. We soon realized that our momentum wasn’t fading, and that it was becoming more difficult to co-op with other photographers and studios due to the amount of work we were doing. It was time, time to bite that bullet and run our own studio, complete with a brick and mortar location. This is the first time we’ve had our very own studio, exclusive to us, and it’s already proven to be everything we’ve hoped for. So here’s to Spectacle, may it live long and prosper!