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Week 13 Aesthetic Artist Interview: A Deaf Boy
August 29, 2009
When somebody loses one of their senses, the body will make up for that loss in a different sense. Some people can't see, yet their ears practically turn into eyes. Others, like our guest here today, lose some of their hearing and gain an incredible eye for art. This man has seen everything; the rise and fall of legendary screenshot artists, the trends of screenshot effects come and go like seasons, and giant screenshot groups grow and fall like ancient civilizations. We are proud to present, one of the forerunners in screenshots, Velocithon.
You've been in the screenshot business for a long time. How have screenshots changed since you started, if they have at all?
Well, I pretty much started taking screenshots the day Halo 3 came out, and I can safely say that screenshots have come a LONG way since then. The first thing I remember is how people didn't even bother to take the HUD off in theater, so every screenshot they took always had that blasted HUD in the way. I was no better though, see? :P I thought a sniper crouching on a boulder made the coolest screenshot ever! Thankfully, people started to smarten up and began taking the HUD off. Soon after, people began focusing on the explosions that usually killed them in matchmaking since often times there would be a cool lighting effect surrounding the player. It wasn't for a while until people went into Forge mode and began using different equipment and grenades to create effects. After the Legendary map pack came out people used the filters to add on to their effect arsenal. The biggest difference to me is that screenshots taken early on were dimmer and sort of highlighted the more natural colors of the game. Once the filters came out, many screenshots became much more rich and brighter.
I think we all can agree that screenshots have come a long way. Has your style of screenshots changed now that you have been taking screenshot for so long?
Heck yeah! No HUD!!! But really, other then that I don't think so. While I don't take screenshots from matchmaking anymore, I still mostly try and take simple screenshots where I'll combine one or two effects and a unique pose to obtain a cool result. I find that people who try to do too much and use too many filters rarely get anything significant and it always comes out really messy. And although I do set up my screenshots in Forge, I never really stage them. I don't go in there with a plan, nor do I have any specific poses in mind. I just have a certain background in place, a few effect guns (rocket, laser, fuel rod, etc.) and have people randomly throw a few grenades around and fire their guns. You'd be amazed how many times I've gotten a really unique pose or effect simply because I'm not planning on it, such as my Guardian screenshot. Plus, planning things takes the element of surprise away when searching in theater and you hold yourself to a certain effect, whereas being spontaneous means anything can happen and anything is accepted. I also never really use filters too much, although sometimes I'll use juicy and gloomy. But generally I try to stick to the same style as people did when the game came out.
Spontaneous = amazing screenshots. Got it. Since you've been in the business for so long, you've definitely become an inspiration to a lot of other Halo artists out there. Is there anyone in particular that inspired you?
Well, the person who really got me started off in taking screenshots was Halcylon and his Face Off screenshot. That was first screenshot that really stood out back then and was different in the sense that it looked more theatrical rather than a boring stretchy spartan picture! It also made me realize the significance of having a good angle on your screenshots and how lighting can be used. Another person was INFLUENTKILLER, which just about every screenshot he took was spectacular! He used many different weapons in his screenshots and was just a great all-round screenshot photographer.
They were both indeed very influential; 2 of the greatest screenshot legends, many believe. Do you feel your appreciation for screenshots has improved now that you've been in the 'business' for so long?
I would say so. After taking screenshots for almost three years I think I've pretty much seen it all and can tell when a truly unique screenshot gets taken. It's amazing how after so long people are still finding effects and using scenery from the original maps to shape their screenshots. It all started with taking screenshots from matchmaking games, but now there are staged screenshots, screenshots in Forge, screenshots in Campaign, and screenshots of Forge art. It's just amazing how people have taken this to the next level and after three years, you can still see a new screenshot and go "WOW!!!"
It amazes me too. Who knew we would be taking such amazing pictures?! What do you wish to accomplish when taking screenshots?
My goal has always been to capture something that no one else has done. Some people come out with 30-40 screenshots a week, but none of which are any different than screenshots other people are taking. I may take one or two screenshots a month, but I try to make them count as 'fileshare-worthy' immediately. I'll go to theater and even if a screenshot is extremely close to what I want, if there is the slightest error or obstruction, I won't even bother to take it. I see taking screenshots similar to those making a map; you don't make 10 maps a week, nor do you settle for a map with flaws. You'll make maybe one map a month, and when you do, it's gotta be perfect, or else don't bother showing people.
I think it's pretty safe to say that you've accomplished quite a lot so far. Look where you're at now! What would you say was your breakthrough screenshot (the screenshot that got you in the spotlight, so to speak)?
Well, that would have to be my 'Finish!' screenshot. Although I started taking screenshots earlier, I received my first and only Bungie Favorite for that screenshot and got a lot of positive comments on it. That really pushed me into the mindset of "Hey, I'm good at this! Maybe I can do more!" I think my Wicked! screenshot also put my name out there, as I took it around the same time as 'Finish!'. Both of those screenshots were from matchmaking and didn't involve any staging or planning, which is why I tend to stay away from that when taking screenshots. I figure I'm known for a simple screenshot, so let's keep it that way!
Those are both definitely stand-out screenshots. I remember back when you made them! Do you have any favorite screenshot artists?
Beside those who inspired me, I gotta tip my hat off to COL0NEL SANDERS, Dusty Boy T, and TheMoleN. These guys take screenshots that are just so unique that they just cannot be replicated. I also like any artist who takes screenshots for fun, who takes criticism, and who strives to capture the greatest screenshot ever!
Hmm....never heard of 'em. ;) Would you like to explain one of your more famous effects or screenshots to us?
I have never seen anyone replicate my Spartan Eclipse screenshot, so I'll explain that one. First, set your Forge options to 'force color: black:', 'health: invulnerable', and 'grenades: infinite.' I acquired a Blackout map variant which spawned me out of the map on top of the center platform. I then made a bridge float in the middle of the sky. After turning on the juicy and gloomy filter, I got on the edge of the bridge and angled myself directly in front of the moon. While crouching and facing the moon, I threw a spike grenade right at my feet, spun around so my back faced toward the moon, and smiled! It took me about 50 times to get the angle, pose, and lighting correct. Although, if anyone tries to attempt this, I must warn thee. I have tried around 200 times to replicate this to no avail...so good luck!
Well, I'm glad you persisted and came out with an amazing screenshot. Maybe knowing how you did it will inspire more to do the same. What aspect of screenshots do you feel is most important when trying to take a good screenshot (Angle, lighting, armor, location, EXPLOSIONS)?
The first thing that comes to my mind when deciding to take screenshots is the armor, specifically the helmet. While sometimes it can be purely an aesthetic choice, I feel it greatly impacts the final result of a screenshot, the reason for this being the lighting. Often times the lighting will reflect off the visor of the helmet that is often the main focus of a screenshot, and some helmets reflect better than others. For instance, I find the Mark V and Mark VI helmet to be perfect for almost any screenshot, but the Scout and Rouge helmet provide little to no reflection. However, if you want a screenshot that has an evil theme to it, you may want to use the EOD or Hayabusa helmet since they have eyes instead of a visor. After all that, I'd say pose and angle is pretty important. You don't want to be too close as to block out the background, but not so far as to you can't see the detail. And of course, as Michael Bay would say, EXPLOSIONS FTW!!!
Explosions FTW, indeed. Oh, and pretty helmets too. I'm sure there's an interesting story behind that name of yours. Care to share it with us?
You mean my names? Lol. I started off as 'The Diktator', which I intended on keeping forever. However my account came into some personal trouble and Microsoft wasn't able to fix it, so I decided to create a new account. I had the genius idea to have some friends file a complaint on my old account to free up the name. Unfortunately, this meant no one could use the name as it is now deemed inappropriate. Totally distraught and not thinking straight, I came up with a few ridiculous names like M Algae Turtle and I Vigilante V I. Soon I decided enough was enough and wanted to create a more personal identity. So I thought for about a month and realized, I'm a pretty fast runner, and my dad's company began with the prefix 'Veloci-', meaning fast. So I took that prefix and added '-thon', which was the last part of my middle name. I fused them together, input it into my Xbox, lost 800 points, and thus a super-cool dude known as Velocithon was born! :D As for my Bungie.net username, 'A Deaf Boy' came from the simple fact that I am deaf. Although, thanks to modern science, that's not entirely accurate anymore. A few years ago I received a cochlear implant and have since regained 92% of my hearing! I'm also not really a boy anymore, being just one year under the legal drinking age (that's 20 for you slow folk)! :D
Hooray for spending money to change your name! Are there any private groups or forums here on Bungie.net that you like to call home?
Definitely the Bungie.net group Aberrant Designs, a group that focuses on Halo 3 screenshots, photoshops, and everyday life. Although it has less than 100 members, many of the 'elite' screenshot-takers reside there; Dusty Boy T, jEEborz, and TheMoleN to name a few. Despite it's small size, each member is extremely active and there's always something happening there! I also visit the ever growing Mythic Photographers group as well, where people go there to discuss screenshots and give other users feedback. I am also a Master Mod in FOTO, and because I'm blue, I visit the Mythic Members group. :D As for the actual Bungie.net forums, I usually hang out in the Community forums, while occasionally posting in the Flood, Optimatch, and Halo 3 Forum.
It seems as though "Aberrant Designs" has come up a few times before in our interviews. Want to make any last-minute shout-outs before we wrap this up?
I want to shout-out to Aberrant Designs for being the greatest group ever! Also to BlackWaterOps for their wonderful community and jaw-dropping website! To CAUS7IC for being the greatest photoshopper ever and inspiring me to learn photoshop! To Ultimatum VI for all the wonderful customs and squad battle moments! To everyone on my friend list and everyone who plays infection with me! I know my screaming can be hard to deal with! To Team Pepto for giving me this opportunity, I love you guys! And last but not least, to all fellow screenshot-takers out there, keep up the good work!
Oh, and Bungie. You guys are pretty cool ;)
And with that, Mr. Velocithon, I think it's time for Pepto to make a few shout-outs of our own. As always, thanks to Louis for everything he does. You're the man! And of course to you, Velocithon, for taking the time to do this interview. It was a blast. And let's not forget about Urk! Thanks to you as well.