Screenshot deluxe: Midhras

471Screenshot deluxe  ist eine wöchentliche Serie zum Thema In-Game-Fotografie - man könnte das vielleicht auch Videogame-Tourismus nennen.  Diese Woche, frisch aus dem Flickr-Pool: Midhras.

Das vorliegende Bild ist eines der Experimente, die neben Midhras' anderen, weniger experimentellen aber ebenso beeindruckenden Bildern ihren Platz haben, und ist "a downsampled crop of a stereographic projection of a stitched panorama composed of 56 2560x1440 in-game screenshots @ FOV 90, taken with ultra SMAA-injection for anti-aliasing, Midhrastic ENB for Fallout v1.1, with SSAO, IL and LOD=-0.5, edited fog values, and uGrids=7." 

Wow. 56 Bilder aus Fallout, hochgetrickst und durch ein von Midhras selbst getweaktes Mod auf Hochglanz gebracht, elegant zu einem Panorama zusammengefügt und dann per Softwarezauberei zum Planetoiden gemacht - die Kunst liegt nicht nur im Moment des Abdrückens, sondern auch in der Bearbeitung des Materials. Die Idee dazu kommt übrigens von Luca Biada. Neben seinen Bildern auf Flickr hat Midhras auch ein narratives Skyrim-Tumblr-Blog und er hat auch Interessantes zu sagen. Bitte Weiterlesen.

 ... why do I relish taking in-game screenshots? I'm not sure really. As a kid I've had this fascination with pausing our old VHS player at certain points in a movie scene that I found particularly interesting. I'd then sketch out pieces of the scene. I had a nice collection of sketched stills from movies like Ben Hur, Alien, The Neverending Story, Star Wars, The Goonies, Charlie Chaplin and many others. They were never any good, but I liked doing them. Looking back this had nothing to do with fandom, but with being amazed at the visual qualities of some shots. I think those hours spent lying on my belly pencilling out ugly renditions of gorgeous imagery may have been my first forays into studying composition. I like film, I do, but I really, really love still images because they draw me in and allow me to imagine what happens at either temporal side of the stilled motion. When I got older, during my teens, I fell in love with mainland European comics, and soon bumped into the works of Régis Loisel, Moebius, Andreas, the Schuiten brothers, Mézières, Philippe Druillet, Jacques Tardi, Grzegorz Rosinski, and many, many others. ... 

There's just too many to list. In art.. well, lets not mention art. If I had to choose one particular artist whose work I find to resonate particularly with what I like in screenshots, it must be Caspar David Friedrich's work. Both his well-known classics 'Wanderer above the Sea of Fog' and his 'The Sea of Ice' (OH!) are images that I long to be able to approach in snapping screenshots in a virtual world.

I've always been a gamer, and I think the main thing that a game has to accomplish is draw me in. A good story or game mechanic are often enough, but in recent years I've become drawn to the visual splendour some games have to offer. The realization of full blown 3D-worldspaces has me in awe easily, and wandering around them can be pure joy. I've ever tried to play the games that were apt to blow up my hardware, and have tried to push them to the limits, in doing so sacrificing gameplay to wring out that next little drop of visual candy. Mods allow you to push the limits of a game even further, and I've spent a lot of time trying to find various ways to up the ante: I've used texture mods; I've pushed a game to its maximum resolution and used shared and original hacks and repurposed software to force it even further; I've tried all kinds of anti-aliasing solutions. All in order to render imagery that approaches ever so much more the point where it could very well be used as illustration in itself. Book cover quality. Graphical novel quality. Painting quality. I'm not gunning for photorealism, because I think that as soon as games hit that spot, I'll end up finding myself shooting horrible vacation shots again.

The reason that I don't meddle with my images after shooting (except when I go for something like a tilt-shift effect, or when I do a planetesimal) is not because of some snobby distinction I want to draw between 'pure' screenshots and the work of graphical designers and image editing artists. I want to be able to point to one of my shots and say: that's a game! Remember Pong and Pac-man? That's from a freaking game and you can play it! I can't describe it any better. I think the biggest part of it is cultured amazement, really. Of course I modify, but I like to be able to say that the snapshot you see is how it can look while you're actually in-game.

Like a gravitational vortex sucking me to it ever faster, I feel it has always been only a matter of time before I would encounter mods like ENB. Its post-processing powers and tweakability allow the modder to bring even the most powerful graphical processors to their knees. And of course, some might argue, the layer of change ENB and other mods add to a game are a violation of the original authors' vision or design. That may very well be the case, but it is nothing that withholds me as from the moment I buy a game, my work on it is not damaging to anyone else. It's not like I'm trying to enhance a centuries old fresco! It could also be argued that a really good screenshooter would be able to work his way around the limitations of a certain game and shoot shots with a flourish nonetheless. My inability to do so may have been the impetus to delve into modding and patching together some ENB's with borrowed and tweaked code. I encourage everyone that is similarly challenged to do the same. It feels like taking apart a couple old radios, a tv, and a toaster, and building something new with the parts. The end result plays music, but it does other things as well... unexpected things.