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27. February 2014

 

Just recently the book Production Pipeline Fundamentals for Film and Game ( Safari Link ) was released and it has been an interesting read.  Here is the thing, I am an ProductPipelineCoverabsolute sucker for post-mortems.  This was my favorite part about Game Developer Magazine every month.  I loved having a peak behind the curtain to see how other people accomplish do what they do, the problems they run into and their solutions to them.  This book is essentially a post mortem, from a number of different people in the industry, for the entire art production pipeline for both movies and games.

 

The book pretty much covers the process that game and movie companies use to develop art.  This starts at the money and concept stage, discusses pre-production, then production, discusses the details of the pipeline, the IT infrastructure each studio uses, gets into nitty-gritty details like software used, managing data and assets, disaster recovery, etc. 

 

The book actually turns into a weird mashup of experiences, and due to the many different contributors, the tone and purpose of the book seems to change all the time.  Sometimes it makes the book truly great, while other times it makes the book confused.  A good example is LIDAR being dropped as a term early on, like the reader is aware of what LIDAR is.  Assuming a certain audience is fine.  However, a few chapters later, a different chapter by a different author actually explains the process of LIDAR.  ( LIDAR coincidentally is the process of scanning an environment into digital form ).  A simply re-ordering of the book would have addressed this, but the disjointed nature of the book made that not happen.  That said, the most interesting segments of the book are when the authors are talking to you like they are talking to peers.  So the transition between lecturing ( this is what X is/does ), to tutoring ( this is how to do X ) to sharing ( this is how we did X ) can be a bit jarring.

 

That’s why I am hesitant to recommend this book straight out.  For the indie developer put frankly, the processes describe are almost entirely beyond your budget.  It’s almost the definition of what makes you an Indie vs a AAA.  On the other hand, if you are in the industry, you will find the tutorial/lecture portions of the book often either simple or patronizing.  That said, if you are wondering how other people do things, or what its like to work in various fields, this book is very unique in its perspective.  Just be prepared to struggle a bit at times.

 

There is a whole lot of knowledge being shared by a number of very talented individuals.  Just be prepared to fight a bit to access it.  If you are an artist or developer and want to see how all the pieces slot together to form a whole, this book illustrates that very well.  If you however are on an indie shoestring budget and looking for a practical book, this probably isn't the one for you.  This isnt a review, as I think this is one of those books you cant really review.  I can see how one person could love it for the exact reason another person hates it.

 

Oh and one last observation… it was funny reading how often I got the impression from (some of) the film guys that they were trying to wow with how uber-impossible their job is, while the game people seemed much more matter of fact.  If you read it, I will be interested to see if you got the same impression.

Art

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