• Art Director Yusuke Naora held a lecture for Final Fantasy Fans

    At Southern Methodist University in Texas, Final Fantasy Type-0's Art Director Yusuke Naora held a lecture about his work on the Final Fantasy series, including Final Fantasy XV. Speaking to the crowd, Yusuke Naora explained his beginnings at Square Enix and describes the difficulties adapting to the newer technology each time it changed:

    "Being able to draw wasn't really a requirement," Naora said to a laughing crowd about his initial work at Square Enix. It was challenging working on Final Fantasy VI pixel art because there were only CRT monitors and limited memory for art assets. He went on to explain that many of the staff members would compete over their work that appears in that game because of that limitation. They had to work with the restrictions that they had in a more technical matter than an art driven matter. When Square Enix moved on to the Playstation 1 and 2 it became less of being able to make pixel art and relied more on being able to draw well.

    Naora had proposed that they had to create an art division specifically that would focus on the art assets. They had to do this due to the increasing size of the development teams. Having a 3D camera was allowing them to have a whole new level of expression. Even though they had this new camera they were still limited to 2D backgrounds, during the Playstation 1 era, which required more advanced art skills than were needed in the SNES era. The explosion in Final Fantasy VII had the art team hand drawing the flames frame by frame. "We were only able to do that because we were young back then," Naora said with another laugh from the crowd.

    It was important to work on sketches and concept art to give the whole team a unified outlook for each game. Often times when they were working on the art they would get ideas and emotional concepts for the story as a whole, such as Tidus's promotional art in Final Fantasy X. Logos were also very important to link to the game. They would try to make them correlate with the games each time Yoshitaka Amano would create one for them. The green color in the Final Fantasy VII logo was heavily featured in the game after it had been added to the logo. When making Final Fantasy VIII though, they had given Amano a screenshot from one of the CGI and asked him to incorporate it into the logo instead of the other way around.

    Now in reference to the present Final Fantasy game development Naora said, "Being able to draw was no longer enough." Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy XV had a whole new difficulty of artwork with the newer systems capabilities. By transferring Type-0 from Playstation Vita to Playstation 4 they had to change their art approach when remastering it thanks to those system capabilities. They had to deal with different physic based rendering and the higher amount of graphic quality which made the transition difficult. Naora went on to explain how real life experiences affected his imagination when creating artwork for Type-0. He went on a trip to an island, which served as the inspiration for the island the Rubrum Akademia is on in Type-0. Not only locations but incidents helped shape his imagination. After having seen a cat hit by a car, and all the other cats gathered around which seemed as if they were mourning it, he used that to convey imagery in an artwork with Bahamut and Class Zero.

    When they were working Final Fantasy XV they had to think of all the varying factors that determined resources for all the new locations within Crown City. The locations are inspired by places in Shinjuku, even near the Square Enix offices. They even tried to get inspiration from other experiences - such as when they took the staff on a mountain climbing trip to build their own personal experiences. Tomohiro Hasegawa, resident monster creator, created the behemoth using 3D scanning and mock models, the sculpture was worked into the game. For Leviathan, Hasegawa bought fish from the market and dissected them to learn about scales. (Don't worry they cooked them afterward) By taking examples from their own experiences and references from the real world they were creating a new look that would show off the quality of what the Playstation 4 is capable of.

    Not only did they create new personal experiences to pull from they also changed how their staff even worked on the art. They switched from section-based work to task-based work. Previously they had too many people that were specialized with individual sections, but now having it based off of tasks instead, they have more teamwork involved with the staff. One of the biggest difficulties for the art department was dealing with was physic based rendering. They had to work with the CGI team for how lighting would work on things like windows, lighting from lamps, and how weather patterns altered light when the physics system was applied. Naora even painted over existing pictures to make sure he got the correct feel for lighting details to work with the environment team.

    Naora went on to work on a piece of art for the lecture but didn't finish his work. He promised he would when he would get back to Japan though. Square Enix will be having another lecture at the University of Southern California with Kazuyuki Ikumori in the second part of their lecture series.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: SMU Lecture started by Freya View original post
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Shauna's Avatar
      Shauna -
      That sounds super interesting.

      If I have a spare two hours I may give it a watch!
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