Why do video game cutscenes look better than the actual game?

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Why do video game cutscenes look better than the actual game?

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12 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The game maker can spend hours to days rendering cutscenes they record and play back. The actual game has to render a scene 60 times every second or I throw it in the trash.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Any graphics have to be rendered before they can be shown on screen. That’s the process of doing all the calculations for what shows up from your camera angle, the lighting, etc. and turning that data into a 2D image.

Your video game has to do this in real-time, every frame, according to your inputs. To accomplish this, the game has limits on how nice the graphics look, to cut down the number of calculations needed. But for a cutscene, this can be done in advance by the game creator, and since it doesn’t need to be done in real-time, the graphics can look really nice. Only the final rendered video ships with the game, none of the rendering is done on the console. So cutscenes end up looking better than the console graphics usually look

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you’re playing a video game, every frame has to be rendered in real time with the decisions you’re making in game. The level of detail is limited to how quickly it can pump out frames. But cutscenes are largely static and can be prerendered. The game developer can use a giant server farm to render high quality cutscenes that wouldn’t be possible in the game engine.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Computer graphics turn information about a scene into an image of that scene. For example, you might tell the computer that a character who looks like [some model an artist made] is situated in a scene with a bunch of other models around it, moving in a certain direction, with light coming from a source overhead and to the left.

If you can give the computer a lot of time to draw that image, it will produce something that looks better. It can use more detailed models and more sophisticated simulations of complicated things like light, hair, and water. This is challenging in a video game because the player is constantly giving commands, which you can’t predict, that change the scene the computer is supposed to be drawing.

On the other hand, a cutscene always looks the same – it’s essentially a short CGI movie – so you can give the computer much more time to draw it. Such a scene would be called “pre-rendered,” and it using it can be as simple as shipping whatever video clip the computer spits out with the rest of the game, then pausing everything to play that little movie when the time comes.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If the cut scene is pre rendered, then its because its pre rendered.

If the cut scene is “in game” then its often because its a close up shot, so you can show more detail on the character models.

Games often use what is called LOD (Level of Detail) to scale down the detail of models the farther away from the camera they are, or depending on the needs of computational power.

Other things can include how much control you have. Its quite hard to make a character move correctly when they can move in any direction, at any time, in any order. Feet slide, animations get clobbered, etc. During a cut scene there is no player input, the developer can tweak everything perfectly for the cut scene. Your mind will subconsciously notice the difference and the polish.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Cutscenes are pre rendered. Meaning they are essentially just videos on playback.

When you’re playing a game the computer has to generate the entire scene from scratch. 60 times every second (or 30 or 144 etc depending on your monitor and display cables).

This is why back when e3 was a thing still having live engine footage was the only way to really “prove” your game looks THIS good and RUNS this fast.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The graphics on a video game are normally created as you are playing the game. The machine you’re playing on has to take in the position of your character, the “camera”, the non-playable characters, and objects within the environment to create a visual to display on your monitor multiple times per second, often 60 times per second. A cutscene, because most or all of these elements are predetermined, the cutscene can be prerendered. Instead of making calculations as you are playing the game to determine the visuals, that can be done ahead of time. This rendering can happen before you even receive the game and can be done at a slower rate to give the computer time to process more detail. Then the visuals can be saved in a simpler form when you download the game so when you reach that cutscene your machine doesn’t have to figure out how to make the visuals, the visuals are already made and it just has to read the video data that already exists.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are two types of cutscenes. Pre-rendered cutscenes and real time cutscenes. Real time cutscenes are performed real time using the game’s engine. Control is removed from the player and the camera moves to predetermined positions while the characters perform predetermined animations, however it’s being recreated in real time, using the game’s engine to run a “script” essentially. The benefit of this is that it allows for seamless transition to custcenes from gameplay, it allows things like a character’s clothes or gear to reflect those that the player is using (you might have noticed in some games how the character in cutscenes is dressed with their default clothing rather the one you’re using) but the drawbacks of realtime cutscenes are that they’re limited by the game’s engine and they may also be susceptible to bugs. Another benefit is that they are able to be modified in case there are player actions or choices affect how the story unfolds. They’re versatile.

Pre-rendered cutscenes are just video files that the game plays for you. They’ve been created beforehand and stored in the game’s files as videos. The benefits of pre rendered cutscenes are that they’re not limited by the game’s engine so they can show whatever they want, so for example they can show a massive battle unfolding that would not be possible with a realtime cutscene because the game’s engine can’t actually support hundreds of characters on screen, or even if the engine can, most people’s PCs can’t. They were especially common in previous years when game graphics were not as good so that they could make the story presentation more cinematic and the visuals more appealing. It’s the case of such cutscenes where games can suddenly look a lot better, since they’re not being produced in real time.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Then there’s Crysis

But really, it depends. Quite a few games render the cutscene outside of the game allowing for better control over special effects, and then there’s other games that render the actual scene in-game. You can usually distinct the two since one feels more like a video than in-game.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Pre-rendered cut scenes are just movies being played back, and have likely been rendered slower than real-time by more powerful systems than what players are playing the game on. So they can use better quality assets/techniques/etc. to do that render that wouldn’t be feasible for real-time performance.

But even if the cut scene is rendered in real-time, there’s often going to be opportunity to use higher quality assets than the gameplay assets, because during the cutscene the developer has full control of the camera and the viewpoint.

Imagine a FPS level where you’re in a warehouse. While the player is controlling the game, they can turn around and look in pretty much any direction whenever they want, they can move around the level in arbitrary ways, and one of the results of this is that the game needs to be ready to render almost every part of the level at a moments notice. Depending on the gameplay, the game might have to be tracking the actions of various NPCs in the level, even if they player can’t see them, and so on. There’s just a bunch of stuff the game is keeping track of in case it needs it quickly due to player actions.

But with a cut scene, the developer knows exactly what the player is going to be seeing, and so can cut out anything extra. If the cutscene takes place near one end of the warehouse and only looks at that end wall, you might be able to cut out 80% of the warehouse that you’d normally have to have loaded because you don’t have to worry about the camera turning around. You don’t have to track enemies/NPCs etc in the background because they’re not relevant to the cut scene. And maybe with this extra memory you’ve now freed up, you can use higher quality models for the player character and some of the props that are important to the cut scene.