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Week 9 Aesthetic Artist Interview: PaperThinWalls
June 5, 2009
There's certainly more to this Aesthetic Artist than paper-thin walls. Find out what's behind them in this week's AAI!
PaperThinWalls was the Charlie Chaplin of Halo screenshots. He's revised his views since then, but this avant-garde of screenshots is still out there taking incredible shots of the scenery and beauty of Halo 3 and building upon his legacy. Read on to learn more about this virtuoso of Halotography!
What got you started in the Screenshot industry? Were there any prominent figures that got your juices flowin'?
When I heard about this new screenshot feature that was going to be featured in Halo 3, I knew I wanted to test it out, unfortunately though, my 360 was at the repair center at the time, so I wasn't able to until October, sadly.
Don't really have any particular prominent figures to name, it's mainly the work that people were doing back then that inspired me, but not in the way you would think. They inspired me to take more photos, but instead of inspiring to take photos similar to theirs, I wanted do the opposite, which was to take photos without any effects. You see, I was opposed to effects during that time. All it was back then was throwing a grenade of some kind (maybe throw some equipment in there, too) and go into the explosion and see what you get. Very random, unimaginative, and I just plainly did not like how the effect looked. So for some time early on in my, what I suppose you can call "career", was taking photos with no effects at all. I felt like Charlie Chaplin when Talkies were becoming big. I absolutely did not want to budge and do what was new and popular at the time.
Around February 2008, though, I began to experiment with that very idea of randomly throwing a grenade and going in it and see what you get---except at this point, it was more than that. Around this time the Black Room and other rooms were being discovered which allowed more creativity due to the rooms' odd affect on grenades and such. So I experimented in these different rooms and I liked the results I was getting. At this point, I realized that screenshots with effects can be just as appealing as those without effects, you just need to know what you want to accomplish.
Darn Microsoft and their faulty consoles... You have proved that screenshots with effects can be just as appealing as those without effects time and time again with numerous shots - keep on going! How many total screenshots have you taken?
Not many compared to other screenshot photographers. Maybe 100? Dunno... maybe it's even last than that. I know that I've had around forty screenshots in my file share, though.
See, here's the thing. It usually takes me weeks or even months to come out with another screenshot. It's not like I don't have any ideas, because I do most of the time, but I'm sort of a perfectionist, I need to make sure I get the best possible shot I can get, so it takes me many times to take a shot. My recent photo, "Fall Breaks and Back to Winter" took me almost a month to take; for weeks it was me shooting myself with a Tank and Wraith. And yes, when I mean myself, I mean it was just myself. *Laughs* I prefer to take my photos alone. Plus, just the way I typically shoot, I only need myself, really.
You undoubtedly have an eye for choosing just the right filter and/or effect that fits the mood of each individual shot. Have you been doing this from the start of your career, did this happen over time or did you just get it right one day and continued on since then?
Like I said earlier, I didn't use any kind of an effect early on, but once I realized I could capture different moods and emotions by using effects to my advantage, it came pretty easily and didn't take time at all to perfect. To me it's all about knowing what you want and once you discover what you want, it comes naturally.
That's a brilliant perspective, and quite apparently why you've had such great success. Do you have any views or opinions about Halo Screenshot Art that you'd like to convey to the community?
I feel there's a lack of imagination and originality for a lot of the people involved within the screenshot community. I feel some people have the need to post screenshots as quickly as possible so they can be noticed and get undeserved praise. I also dislike when people post a photo in many groups at a time. I mean, come on; I don't want to see your 'Super Spectacular Shot' on every group's first page. It's unneeded, really.
I strongly oppose of taking photos in bulk (taking multiple photos in one session). I feel that when people do that, their photos tend to become sloppy and a little stale. I mean, in a way, they (the photos) lose their importance, they don't become as special or valuable as they should be because it's just another photo to you, you know? I really dislike that. You know, every screenshot that I have taken thus far has some kind of importance to me. Each and every one of them has a meaning to me. I am proud to say that I have never sold out. I have never went ahead and done a screenshot because someone told me to. Lately what I've been seeing is people entering these little "Take a photo and Tag" contests or whatever you want to call them that Bungie has been doing the past month to get a chance to win Recon. Now I understand that most people see this differently than I do, but I essentially see it as selling out. If you don't usually takes photos in Matchmaking or Campaign, but suddenly do (usually just for a day or two, mind you) because Bungie is dangling Recon above your head, then I see that as selling out.
You're very cynical, aren't you? Lucky for you I like that. :) How have you incorporated the filters on both the Legendary maps and the Mythic maps into your screenshots? Do you believe that they have greatly enhanced the feel and emotion of your work as a whole?
Yes, greatly. I think mostly everyone in the screenshot community would agree that filters are such an improvement to screenshot taking. I'm conveying different emotions and styles in the Legendary maps and the Mythic maps that I could never do with the original maps and Heroic maps.
I agree; the filters have been an invaluable asset to Halotography. If you could add or change anything about Screenshooting, what would you add/change?
I wish Bungie could add more characters to the title area (you know, the place where your screenshot's main title is). As some of you may know, my titles are a bit long, so I need to continue a said title in the subtitle area. I think it creates confusion with people outside the screenshot community if they see a screenshot of mine and just see the main title. Their first thought would probably be "Why did this guy name his screenshot "Is There." Other than that, perhaps more filters.
Darn your amazing and imaginative titles! I think we could handle a few more filters as well, though. What is your favorite screenshot of both by your own hands and of another artist? Why?
Don't really have a favorite of my own, I like all of them in their own way, but for the interview's sake, "Aldhils Arboretum" since it's so extraordinary.
As for another artist, I quite like the photo "Crypt Tube" by UreticAssassin. I saw it posted on Forge Hub one day and fell in love with it. It's a stunning photo.
Wow, that is extraordinary. How do you come up with each individual title? Do you always have some sort of inspiration?
The way I come up with the titles for my photos is pretty unique. Most of my photos are actually titles of songs from bands and musicians that I like. A few bands and musicians I've used song titles from include: The Beach Boys, Daniel Johnston, Modest Mouse, and of Montreal. The only exceptions are "Tender Is the Night" (name of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel), "Aldhils Arboretum" (name of a Montreal album), and "Metropolis" (name of 1927 silent science fiction film).
Ah, yes. Songs and such seem to be fairly popular for naming screenshots. What are your thoughts on the different styles scenery that are offered in the Mythic Map Pack?
Well thus far my favorite map from the Mythic Map Pack to take scenery photos is Sandbox. I mean, for one, look at the sky; it's magnificent. You've got the sun, that planet (yes, it's a planet, folks), and those clouds. Other than the sky, I really like those huge dunes in the background and the waves of sand.
Orbital and Assembly, I have not done anything scenery wise. I have few ideas for Orbital. Assembly, on the other hand, doesn't appeal to me (at least scenery wise).
So far I've only taken one scenery photo ("Lofty Skies") on the Mythic Map Pack, but don't worry, more is to come in the coming months.
Sounds great! I'll definitely keep my eyes peeled. Have you ever been featured on Bungie Favorites or had any of your screenshots published on the site or in any of urk's 'Tag and Release' articles?
Never been on Bungie Favorites. Never been featured on Tag and Release. Though, I should mention that my screenshot, "Lost For Words", was made into an avatar for Bungie.net, but most people don't know it's actually a screenshot. And I don't expect them to know, anyway. I actually like it when people realize that a photo and its effect was all made in Halo 3, I think it says a lot about the capabilities of what one can do with Halo 3 screenshots.
Well hopefully we can change that. ;) Wait a tick, that avatar came strait from Halo?! You sir, rock. Who is your favorite current or emerging artist in the community?
Tough one, but I'll say Leeumm. With the rate he takes photos, I'm surprised that he has stayed pretty consistent. Don't know if he knows this, but I truly enjoy most of his work. I hope he evolves and continues to take great looking screenshots.
Indeed, he is emerging as a wonderful artist. Would you like to add anything about yourself?
Hmm, let's see. If you were wondering, my name did indeed come from the song "Paper Thin Walls" by Modest Mouse. I suppose you can consider myself a Cinephile. I'm active on many other forums and websites that are non-Halo related, so if you see someone named, PaperThinWalls---it may be me. I have a twin brother. My Conan O'brien avatar was featured on gamesradar.com. I have the autographs of Don Gibb and Windell Middlebrooks. And I pretty much stink at playing Halo 3.
Would you like to make any shout-outs?
Well first off, I would like to give a name drop to my cousin who goes by the Gamertag/Username, Invalid Player. He has supported my screenshots since the start. He was once pretty active in the Forging Community, so if you come upon a map of his and are a fan of Mini Game Maps, then I suggest you download his maps. I would also like to give a shout-out to Aberrant Designs. I'm very proud to be a part of that group since the beginning. I would also like to give the following shout-outs to bs angel and her fabulous websites, halo3screenshots.com and hawtymcbloggy.com, the Forgehub Screenshot Community, and most importantly, my parents for conceiving me. Oh, and also, Chicago and Rich Koz.
Cinephile + Conan O'Brien + autographs + terrible Halo 3 player = PaperThinWalls. Sweet. Thanks for coming in. I'd like to make a shout-out to Louis Wu and bs angel this week for putting up with me along with Dusty and Sanders of Team Pepto. Thanks so much, the four of you! Also, if you're looking for a gallery a bit more native to Bungie.net and of more familiarity, you can click here. Watch out next week for a tenth anniversary special! Jdars out.