yU+co. Stays On Winning Streak With Visual Design For ''Gamer''

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Studio Designs and Executes Over 568 Shots and Elements For Sci-Fi Thriller

Last Updated: September 17, 2009 6:28 pm GMT
(Hollywood, California--September 17, 2009) For Lakeshore Entertainment/Lionsgate’s new sci-fi thriller, ''Gamer,'' yU+co. accomplished the task of visualizing a futuristic world using motion graphics applied as visual effects.

Designing and executing over 568 shots and elements, this ambitious undertaking became one of the most elaborate motion graphics projects committed to film.

Set in a dystopian future where the worlds of entertainment and gaming have merged, humans play other humans to inflict pain or to experience pleasure. In the mutli-player online game ''Slayers,'' players control death-row inmates, manipulating them as living avatars in deadly combat. There’s also the game ''Society,'' the non-lethal but no less de-humanizing game world where real people are controlled in gameplay filled with hedonistic scenarios limited only by the gamers’ imagination.

For a futuristic film that revolved around videogames, motion graphics became an extremely important narrative device. '''Gamer' provided a perfect opportunity for us to incorporate our skills using motion graphics to help the filmmaker tell the story,'' says Creative Director Garson Yu.

To enhance the storytelling, yU+co. created a visual look where none existed before, designing environments, billboards, commercials, logos, and graphic user interfaces that characters use to play games and interact with each other.

Both the film’s directors, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, have a spontaneous and impulsive shooting style, so only minimal green screen and live special effects shots were created during the filming. After shooting was completed, James McQuaide, Lakeshore Entertainment’s Sr. VP of Production and Executive Producer/VFX Supervisor of ''Gamer,'' brought the project to Garson Yu who he had worked with in the past on several other films.

''With ''Gamer,'' it became apparent from page one of the script that motion graphics were going to be an enormously important component for both telling the story and explaining the world,'' says McQuaide. ''They certainly needed to look great, but they had to be absolutely believable. Having worked with Garson many times over the years, there is a brilliant simplicity and, most importantly, an absolute authenticity to everything he does.''

Continues McQuaide, ''Even though yU+co had never done anything quite like this before, we were confident that they could provide the same for the mountain of motion graphics ''Gamer'' would require. Needless to say, Garson and his team hit it out of the park.''

yU+co. pre-visualized ideas using the existing footage that the filmmakers had just shot and created original motion graphics to fully realize the directors’ vision of the future. Within the film, computer graphics and interfaces are integral to the story and carry important story information. Additional graphics serve as set-design, painting a more complete futuristic picture than what the raw footage portrays.

'Although ''Gamer'' takes place in the future, we didn’t want to make the film too dramatically removed from the context of contemporary life,'' says Yu. ''We began with current popular culture and through our graphics, envisioned the future by building on existing technology.''


Slayers and Society
For the game ''Slayers,'' in which death row inmates are played as avatars, yU+co. created in-game graphics that provide context to the onscreen action. ''We wanted the basic look to be recognizable to the audience so we adopted a familiar game structure seen in the top videogames of today,'' says yU+co. producer Carey Michaels Keeney. ''Because it also needed to reflect gaming in the future, we had to imagine just what that would look like.''

The other gaming world featured heavily in Gamer is ''Society,'' a life-simulation game similar to ''Second Life'' or ''The Sims.'' Where ''Slayers'' embodies a grim, violent world, ''Society'' is a virtual world filled with bright, vibrant colors displaying avatar tags, signage and advertising.

'The idea was to create an environment in which people indulge in their excesses, protected by the anonymity of using an avatar,'' says Art Director Synderela Peng. ''Conceptually we were drawing from the early 90’s underground rave scene. Projecting into the future, those excesses are amplified and paraded in broad daylight by advertising pleasure-inducing products on signage and billboards.''

The Gina Parker Smith Show
For the TV talk show set of The Gina Parker Smith Show, yU+co. created the content for a giant video wall with constantly changing images, all without the aid of any green screen shots. The video wall is used to illustrate the controversial game ''Slayers'' and later a motion graphics sequence to show how nano-technology turns humans into playable avatars. yU+co. also created the graphics package and logo for this fictitious TV show.

The other major design undertaking was creating a computer operating system for Simon’s room that encompasses the entire room from floor to ceiling. It is from here that the teenager Simon, the super star gamer of ''Slayers,'' controls all the gameplay with the prison inmate Kable. yU+co. created all the content and applications for this enclave that is in itself a depiction of future technology.

''Our prediction is that the interface is not limited to the desktop but is a virtual world that surrounds the user,'' says Johnny Ellsworth, yU+co’s resident game guru. ''The interface is a fully immersive environment with graphics spread out in 3D space. The 360º walls house games, music, photos, video, chats, everything a teenager would access from his computer -- like a giant 3D iPhone except it’s an iRoom.''

For yU+co., ''Gamer'' provided a great opportunity to envision what the future will look like if we continue with current technology and cultural trends. ''In the future the lines will be blurred between games, films, television, and the internet. The four platforms will merge into one,'' says Yu. ''Motion graphics is a storytelling medium that works for any digital platform and it will not be limited to just one. Whether it’s for commercials, films, television or gaming, we have been and will continue to design digital content that can be applied across all of them.''

yU+co. also recently designed and directed 60 minutes of game cinematics for Capcom’s Resident Evil 5 . Other upcoming work includes the graphics package for the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards being produced by Don Mischer Productions for a live broadcast on September 20th.


About yU+co:
Recognized as an industry leader in visual design and motion graphics with offices in Hollywood, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, yU+co. ( http://www.yuco.com ) specializes in digital content for all media platforms as well as title design for film and television, visual effects and animation, theatrical logos, game cinematics and commercials

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