ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Sniper Spree —

And now, a quick interlude.

Some quick ruminations on the meaning of a contest-winning best-of-sniper-shots-in-Halo video I’ve watched a couple times recently. I am sure that for some people, “Jason And Halo” has become that saddest of weblog tropes, the Thing That The Weblogger Keeps Going Back To That We Got The Point Already Thanks. But that said, I’m just using it as a jumping off point for a few observations. I play Halo in off-times to calm down and interact with others in some way, even if it’s somewhat sociopathic, like getting exercise by joining a rioting mob. But still, one has to at least acknowledge the work of this one:

The direct link is here, including a high definition version.

This video wouldn’t begin to be possible without the massive amount of controls and flexibility built into the Halo 3 engine – you can turn the camera around in many different ways, run the shots slow and fast, become the point of view of anyone playing, and generally have all the control a person doing a video production would ever want.  Usually, this is more useful for things like trying to figure out how someone did what appeared to be an amazing move, or to find out why you hit someone with a shotgun but someone else got credit for the kill.

This video, however, is full of all sorts of cinematic tricks that wouldn’t be out of place in a Warren Miller film, and adds a whole range of acrobatic maneuvers cutting between all different games to produce a seamless whole. The theme, as you might guess, is “sniping”, where you can use a gun to make someone’s head explode from across the game’s maps – it’s my favorite weapon by far, just for the surprise feature. Take from that what you will.

Like a lot of these films, it really helps to play the game to understand the complicated things people are doing, or how difficult it is to pull off some of the moves. I watch the X-Games occasionally as well as other let’s-put-teens-in-danger sports programs, and I am positive that my vacuum of experience skateboarding or riding motorcycles makes my understanding of what’s onscreen that much more dulled. It’s a cinematic/instructional problem, and while they make up for it with bright lights and loud music and not sticking around on one shot, I am fascinated at that issue, of making someone who doesn’t have the back-end context understand they’re watching something amazing.

Recently, I was online with a friend’s son, 10 years old, and I was showing him how to set up shots and angles in the Halo 3 theater (the replay mechanism) for maximum dramatic impact. This involved showing an establishing shot, a zoom in, and then framing the action so you saw it all, then felt it happen, and then a tracking shot into the distance, showing the aftereffect. He was in California, and I was in Boston. We did it using commodity hardware in our homes. It was distance-learning film school, damnit! Wow.

I don’t want to say that kids have it easier now, but they certainly have it cooler. With the Quake 3 engine open-source, and games like Halo giving you such amazing control to make movies… there’s no excuse to be doing film school in your house.

Categorised as: computer history | documentary

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  1. «This clip is not available in your country» WTF!?

    Why, why, why? It’s not like a big stupid studio made it, is it? Why do people choose to block Norway?

  2. Valkoinenpulu says:

    What country *is* this available in then? Trying to proxy through some US servers and I get the same result still. (Finland over here).