Cinematography in Video Games

Yuri Neyman Asc

New member
Hello All,

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Yuri Neyman, ASC and I am a founding partner of the Global Cinematography Institute in Los Angeles.

I recently wrote an article for our weekly newsletter about the role of a traditional cinematographer in the field of video games. If you want to read more here is a link to our newsletter:

Or if you would like to apply for our upcoming two week Level 1 session see the link below:

At Global Cinematography Institute, we combine teaching the aesthetics of Cinematography with the latest developments in craft and technology, to create our unique and world-known Expanded Cinematography® Courses. A key component of Expanded Cinematography® is enlightening Cinematographers on the new horizons of image creation possible in the realms of VFX, Virtual Production, Previs, Digital Lighting and more. An exciting new field of opportunity for Cinematographers is in the rapidly growing field of Video Games. With the popularity of "e-sports" gaining and the rising demand for cinematic imagery, both rendered and in real-time gaming - GCI believes that Cinematographers with a background in Expanded Cinematography® are in a unique position to bring a traditional photographic background into the visual storytelling arena of video games.

Under the guidance of Dori Arazi, former GCI Graduate and Cinematics Director for Studios such as Midway Games, THQ, Electronic Arts, and Sega - now working as the Cinematography Lead at Sony Santa Monica on the new "God of War" title - this class as part of July Level 1 Session will address the definition, responsibilities and challenges of becoming a cinematographer in the video game industry. The class will explore the differences in cinematic approach between film and video games, and discuss the tools and techniques needed to be a successful cinematographer in today's game industry.

Video games is the fastest growing multi-billion dollar industry and in the modern society it is approaching a level of the influence of other forms of art, such as films and literature. Video game plots and the demand for visual sophistication and design already requires the image creating experience from professionals who are equally knowledgeable in traditional and virtual cinematography.

Cinematography is an art, which requires mastering of a constantly evolving craft. The goal of the Global Cinematography Institute is to prepare cinematographers like postgraduate students and veteran filmmakers to take advantage of on-going advances in digital and virtual cinematography technologies.

The industry, directors, cinematographers, VFX experts, game-players – all are talking about the relations between video games and cinema, and more.

The Time magazine article - "The Hollywood Cinematographer Has a New Job Path: Video Games" moved the debate into the new field: the role of cinematographers and cinematography in the current and future of games production.

Games are now part of modern “pop” culture like film, comics, TV series & animation. Franchises like Call of Duty, Halo, God of War, Assassin’s Creed have reached a modern myth status like their film or TV counterparts, Star Wars or Star Trek - or being adapted into films themselves, such as the upcoming Assassin's Creed movie shot by Adam Arkapaw. Today, with the next generations of consoles, games are evolving toward a similar high-end imagery, finally very close to film imagery.

“Games Cinematography” has become an important part of our Expanded Cinematography® course where the traditional cinematographer’s “toolkit” such as light, color, camera, and composition are used to create an emotional interactive experience in games.

The narrative and interactive components of a video game, “game play” and “cinematics” (real time or “pre” or “post rendered”), have their own constraints, running complex imagery at 30 or 60fps on various “game engines” and hardware. The game genres: first-person shooter, adventure games, and MMO (massively multi-player online) games have a deeper impact on the visuals, presentation and cinematography than in more traditional narrative media (Film, TV, Comics, Animation).

The state of the art techniques used for high end VFX & virtual productions like the film Tin-Tin or such (performance motion capture), are more or less used daily in the game industry to create a significant larger amount of content. A game is much closer to a full TV season in terms of the amount of content produced, rather than a 90 min feature film.

It’s very interesting to see the converging trend toward the “virtual” stage, with full capture, virtual camera, real time lighting. High end games & VFX blockbusters are and will be more or less “captured” the same way. Games are now color corrected like film. Game cinematography is rapidly evolving and is re-inventing, in a similar way, what film has gone though in the first part of the 20th century. Games are closer to film and TV than animation.

While Game Cinematography is a relatively new concept within the game studios, there’s now a real need for experts in imagery to push further the visual boundaries of that fast moving industry, and to start actively use achievements of the new Expanded Cinematography®.

Many traditional film companies like Technicolor have announced that it has established a new high-end game art and animation team dedicated to working with Rockstar Games. “This partnership reinforces Technicolor’s strong commitment and strategy to growing its art and animation business for the video game industry and we are proud to work with cutting edge industry leaders like Rockstar Games,” said Tim Sarnoff, President of Technicolor Digital Productions.

For Cinematographers, it means that video games will use more and more phrases and words from the “Language of Cinematographer” and an increased use of the cinematographic language in video games.

"As cinema builds universes and stories, video games seize these and use them as canvas to create on", explains Gérard Delorme, one of the leading researchers in the field video games. "The links between cinema and video games is close to the one between literature and cinema. The latter feeds on the former. Even though video gaming might overthrow cinema's position as the most thriving entertainment industry, it will always need cinema, just like cinema needs novels to adapt".

Maura B.

The Last Black Unicorn
Staff member
Hello Yuri and welcome to the forums!

Video games is indeed one of the fastest growing industries and with the emergence of VR, there will be more cinematography in video games than just 3D animations and CGI. A good example is how Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was made, using a real life model

Regardless, I am eager to see how this industry will develop in the following years.