LET’S MEET: MARC T

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LET’S MEET: MARC T

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:07 pm

LET’S MEET: MARC T



Though a large portion of Warframe’s allure comes from being able to shoot and slice apart droves of enemies, we find there’s an incredibly vocal appreciation from our community when it comes to the other aspects of Warframe’s design. This is doubly true in our events, which tie players into the lore of the game more closely than a normal mission would. New tilesets, unique enemies and character interaction are all a part of the update; but the most noticeable change can often come in the form of the mission’s atmosphere.

In our event "Breeding Grounds", players were introduced to a new mode called Hive Infestation, and a new tileset that set Tenno on board a space station literally twisted and broken with Infested influence. Danger swarmed around every dark corner, and the mood was pretty tense from the first moment you stepped on board. Much of that was due to the pretty gross blobs of Infested goo that pulsed unnaturally, but it was our Senior Lighting Artist Marc T that was responsible for making the Infested ships feel so oppressive.


Since this is our first time meeting you why not tell us a little bit about yourself?

Marc T: I’m going on a year and a half to two years here at Digital Extremes. I come from the film background. I started out in ‘93 over at Boss Film, and then from there started bouncing around. I’ve been freelancing for most of my career and worked at a lot of the major studios, on a lot of major films (I have 25 film credits to my name) but the way games and gaming technology has been advancing I thought I’d give that a try.

Mostly because of the way narrative and storylines have been advancing, to the point where they almost become movies themselves.

And what exactly do you work on?

My job is a lighter with a little bit of ‘look development’ thrown in. The lighter’s job is to light the scene, but to also establish mood and drama and kinda highlight play points, paths, goals and achievements. But also make it look really, really cool in the process.

In a nutshell, I make pretty pictures.



What tilesets have you helped light up?

I wasn’t working on Warframe for the original launch, but I believe my first tileset was the Grineer Galleon set. I’ve mostly worked Grineer, but I have also worked on a lot of the expansions for Corpus, a couple of the Asteroids, all of the Dojo stuff, most of the Orokin, the Derelict, and the Jungle which I was really happy about. I developed the day-to-night look on that, which was kind of a fluke thing. I said ‘hey, this would be really good if this had a timestamp on it’ and they let me run with that.

My two favorite sets were the Jungle set and the latest Infested set for Breeding Grounds. On those I had a lot more input and freedom to be a lot more creative with them.

Do you have a particular methodology when it comes to illumination?

It’s always broad strokes to the finer strokes. So taking a look at the Jungle tileset, your broad stroke would be the daylight. I would establish the sun position so you know all the angles of the shadows from the forest growth or Grineer machinery. Then start looking for your secondary light sources, what would be happening in tunnels, machines, accentuating goals and paths...things like that. Finally beauty accents, like dappled light from the canopy, rim lighting objects for depth and of course, emissive lighting like computer terminals or panels.

Broad strokes to small strokes. You hear it a thousand times but you never really think it’s true. Eventually it becomes second nature.

(video here: https://gfycat.com/FragrantPowerfulAkitainu)

There are a lot of subtle things involved in lighting a level beyond just creating a light. I think a lot of us take for granted how heavily lighting can change our perspective.

It also establishes a look too. Like the Grineer is heavy industrial feel. Oranges, yellows, dirty factory colors. The Corpus are the opposite, a really clean futuristic light. Light blues or a cyan.

Have you ever gone back to make changes to an existing tileset?

A few times, and it’s not even so much bug fixes. Steve has been upgrading our lighting tools themselves, so we’re actually getting up to a lighting system. So with these changes that Steve has made every time we have an Update we try to sneak into some of the older sets with the updated lighting.

Some players may notice with the older sets like Mercury, hey this looks different! Well that’s because we have new tools and a new way of lighting things. We just can’t do everything at once because...well there’s only so much that you really want to download in an update.



A lot of players were really happy with what they saw in our Infested Tileset, was it tough to capture the mood?

Some sets are really hard, some are really easy. I really enjoyed this one because I had a clear vision. Even with the art direction and the concept art I had a really clear vision of what it all should look like. Thankfully it hit all the markers that the art director wanted, and so the Breeding Ground tileset was really easy to do.

The first thing that popped into my head were those H.P. Lovecraft book covers. If you’ve seen the covers, with the grey and the red eyes and the tree with all the eyeballs on it. That’s the concept that I started the pallet from. That kind of bright red and dark crimsons for the Infested work. In order to keep it in a really hard contrast were the bright clean Corpus lighting, and the bright blue moonlighting.

You would always have this hard contrast so that wherever it was bright you wouldn’t see any red at all. But the further you got into the ship and the more it was infested, that’s when you would start to see those deep reds. To keep the contrast there would be little pools of white light here and there, just to guide the path.



Is there anything you keep in mind when doing a level for the various factions?

Try to stay true to the look of each faction. That’s kind of the trick, because you still have to make everything look interesting and dramatic but you’re kind of limited to a certain palette. Certain fixtures on Corpus, you just can’t use that color temperature on Grineer. It just doesn't look right.

But that’s actually the challenge to games, I think. You’re kind of restricted. In film I could use 500 lights, and who cares? As long as it looks good on film it looks good. But in games you have a limited amount. You have to get the same kind of detail but you can only do it with ten lights as well as it has to look good from 360 degrees. For me, that’s the challenge to it!

Do you have a favorite Warframe?

I like playing Rhino and Vauban. Vauban a little more. Actually...-laughs- I like playing Vauban because I can get those little energy balls and stick em to people’s faces. Just to mess with people.



Any advice for a graphic designer trying to play with lighting?

Learn some photography and cinematography. Originally I started out as an animator, but I’m a hardcore movie buff who is into film noir. So when it came to lighting and compositing I was just faster and better at it. Specifically lighting, I was very fast at lighting. I remember the first day at Boss Film, the first thing my visual effects supervisor Jim Rygiel did was he gave everybody "Painting With Light". He said ‘this is the bible, this is what you need to learn.’

For people wanting to learn lighting, I would say read cinematography books. I would highly recommend the "Five C’s Of Cinematography". "Painting With Light" is just a great reference book, it shows you old school lighting. How you would light on set, which is basically what you’re doing in games. You’re given a set and you have to light it. "The Five C’s" is more about placement and angles. It will help you develop your eyes, which is the same thing for any photography book that emphasizes composition.

We hope you enjoyed our look at lighting, from creating the horrors of Infested darkness to the soothing glow of a Corpus hall. A warm thank you goes out to Marc T for spending a bit of time shining a little light on his contribution here at Digital Extremes, and be sure to keep an eye out for the latest Infested Tileset in our special game mode Hive Infestation.


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