Virtual photography

25 Oct 2011

Much to my surprise, I’m having lots of fun with Forza’s photography mode. They’re not the first video game to put in a way to capture and upload screenshots, but I think two things set it apart. First is the subject – photos of cars in forests etc. are much more tangible than photos of space marines blowing each other up. Its something that people can relate to more readily, so the interest in taking pictures to share is much greater, even if you’re not a car nut. I don’t really know much about cars, but can see the aesthetic in them readily.

But second, and more interesting, is the controls the photo mode in Forza gives you, such as exposure, aperture, camera speed, and so on, giving you a similar creative control over the resulting picture than anything I’ve played with before. Indeed, it gives me the same controls to fiddle with that I do on my Canon DSLR most of the time.

This means you’re not just taking a screen shot, you end up doing actual composition of your photo. It’s not just finding the right moment, but it’s also getting it to look right, both in terms of scene setup and camera setup, and as such tickles the part of my brain that real world photography does. Not that this is particularly new – the machinima community have been making excellent films with video game engines for ages, but this is the first one I’ve used that has these camera options.

I’ve only done a bit of playing with it, but some people have made some incredibly realistic shots with Forza, some of which I’m sure could pass as real at first glance.

Anyway, I’ve been taking lots of pics, trying to see what I can do with it. I suspect they’re a bit like baby photos, and only really of interest to the parent, but I’ve put them up on a Tumblr for Digital Flapjack Racing if anyone wants to see more.