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Bridging The Film-Game Divide: Ubisoft's Yannis Mallat on the Future of Digital Entertainment
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Bridging The Film-Game Divide: Ubisoft's Yannis Mallat on the Future of Digital Entertainment

June 11, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

How do you define that as being different from branching? You still have to get from point A to point B, but how you get there is different?

YM: No, that's a linear way of envisioning content. Playing with values is more towards what I'm describing here.

I guess I was also thinking from a narrative point of view, where you have text or voice that evolves with story. That kind of malleability would be awesome, but difficult to achieve.

YM: As soon as you touch static content -- prerendered, prerecorded or whatever -- sure, you cannot change that. But as long as you play with values -- and this is what I was talking about in what the player will care for -- then you can have this emotional journey that is not linear.

Will the content almost be generated more by the player than by the designer in that scenario?

YM: That's a very good question. With Web 2.0 and initiatives like that, it definitely goes that way. I think player-generated content is part of the future of the entertainment industry for sure.

It seems difficult to achieve with our current models. You have to know a lot about how to make games. Are you talking about a structure where you can change the game experience through playing it?

YM: Yeah, in a way.

It's very ambitious. How many people do you have working on Ubisoft Digital Arts?

YM: Right now, we are taking the step-by-step approach. We are also learning this medium in a very professional way, more than trailers and cinematics. We're starting with a short about Assassin's Creed, and little by little, we'll have another short, and then we'll get up to 500 people probably within five or ten years.

Do you imagine this house also doing CG feature films?

YM: At Ubisoft, we want to make sure that we learn and master something before going to the next level. For now, we're learning it through shorts. We'll see what will come after.

What kind of people are you hiring into this? Are you hiring from the game space mostly, or are you also hiring film students?

YM: Both. In five years, we don't want people to be saying, "I am an animator for the video game side," and "I am an animator for the CG side." We want people saying, "I am an animator for Ubisoft Montreal."

You want the line between CG animation and real-time animation to blur, so that there is no such thing as uninteractive content, right?

YM: Exactly.

It seems like a good direction to go in some ways, because a lot of the convergence that people are talking about is simply just getting a Hollywood director to give some ideas, or getting a game producer to give some ideas to a movie.

YM: We went through that already, and we're still doing it because in a way, it's good. But one thing we see is some Hollywood directors literally excited about being able to play with tools that we've been using for ages.

Do you mean like pre-visualization tools and things like that? Their stuff is very static and specific, and you can't do as much messing around as you can otherwise.

YM: So that's one way, we've been doing that. But really, convergence is a bottom-up process. Expertise here and there can cross, but we need one product -- one vision -- to ensure that it happens.

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