×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘God of War’ Offers Fantasy World of 100 Unbroken Takes

The long take — a sequence shot in one unbroken camera move — isn’t easy to pull off. Many films are remembered for such virtuosity. Think Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope,” which appears as one continuous take; the Battle of Dunkirk shot in the middle of Joe Wright’s “Atonement”; and the 17-minute unbroken visual at the beginning of Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity.”

This year we can add a video game to that pantheon: The latest iteration of “God of War,” directed by Corly Barlog and shot by cinematographer Dori Arazi. The Sony Interactive Entertainment game, developed by Santa Monica Studio and released for the Playstation 4 console, is the eighth chapter of the action-adventure franchise that debuted in 2005.

God of War” is made up of 100 long takes, totaling 25 to 35 hours of game play. “I had the strong instinct that not having a cut, especially as the game was played over time, would create a sense of immediacy,” says Borlog, whose initial inspiration was the late-’80s, early-’90s immersive theater event “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” in which audience members interact with the cast.

When shopping the idea of a game made up of long takes, Borlog referred potential producers to John Woo’s “Hard Boiled,” which featured a long-take fight scene and a mix of action and drama. Ultimately, Sony Interactive took the leap.

Barlog sought out a cinematographer who could shoot the game like a film. “I needed someone who wouldn’t just move the camera with no motivation,” he says. Producer Tim Morton recommended Arazi, who teaches camera work for games at Global Cinematography Institute; the two met and clicked.

The target emotion for “God of War,” says Arazi, is empathy. Inspiration came from World War II found footage and from Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” He also studied Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman” and “The Revenant,” both of which feature long takes by DP Emmanuel Lubezki.

After careful previsualization and rehearsal, Arazi wielded a computer monitor in a metal frame, with markers that allow the system to capture the actors’ motion. “It functions similarly to a live-action camera, so it helps to bridge the gap of shooting an animated sequence as you would a live-action one,” he says.

Most challenging, he says, was finding the right balance between film and game: “What might work well for a proper movie would be too distracting in a combat scene [in the game].”

Arazi also had to figure out the right way to exit a scene — and thus hide the cuts. “We found spots to put the camera down so it could be picked up by the game play or another scene, as if we’d never paused,” he explains.

Having sold 3.1 million units in its first three days on the market, “God of War 9” is on its way to another blockbuster success for the franchise. “It was an expensive, risky, crazy idea and extremely exhausting to do,” says Borlog. But, adds Arazi, “the game medium is becoming a really mature and viable way to tell a story.”

More Gaming

  • Schell Games' 'Until You Fall' Is

    Schell Games' 'Until You Fall' Is VR Sword Fighting Game

    Schell Games revealed its latest project, a “magic-infused” VR sword fighting game known as “Until You Fall.” The upcoming title will find players mastering their own combat style as they take on humanoid creatures, monsters, and a variety of other threats. Roguelike elements ensure that they’ll still make progress, however, even if they happen to [...]

  • Red Hook Studios Is Working on

    Red Hook Studios Is Working on a 'Darkest Dungeon' Sequel

    Lovecraftian role-playing game “Darkest Dungeon” is officially getting a sequel, developer Red Hook Studios revealed on Tuesday. “In the howling darkness of the end, men will become monsters,” the reveal trailer states. “But hope will ride with those courageous enough to carry the flame.” The video shows a snowy, mountainous landscape and six characters from [...]

  • Tim Schafer14th British Academy Games Awards,

    Double Fine Next Game After 'Psychonauts 2' Likely a 'Not Sequel'

    Tim Schafer isn’t yet talking about what game will come next for Double Fine Productions following the release of “Psychonauts 2,” but he has some general ideas. “We’re doing a sequel right now and I have an urge to make a not sequel,” he told Variety during a recent interview. The problem, he went on, [...]

  • Paradox Interactive Had Its 'Best Year

    Paradox Interactive Had Its 'Best Year to Date' in 2018

    Video game publisher Paradox Interactive just had its “best year to date,” CEO Ebba Ljungerud said during a financial results report on Tuesday. The company had its best income quarter in Q4 2018, despite not releasing any new games during that time. Revenues increased 51% to 336.9 million SEK (about $36 million USD) compared to [...]

  • 'PUBG Mobile' x 'Resident Evil 2'

    'PUBG Mobile' x 'Resident Evil 2' Debut 'Zombie: Survive Till Dawn' Crossover Event

    “Resident Evil 2” meets “PUBG Mobile” with the portable battle royale’s new gameplay mode “Zombie: Survive Till Dawn,” available now. The new collaboration between the mobile iteration of “PUBG” and the survival horror hit “Resident Evil 2” launched on Tuesday, featuring three days and two nights of in-game time all rolled up into one 30-minute [...]

  • ELeague - street-fighter-v

    'Street Fighter V's' Next Opponent Is … 'Puzzle & Dragons'

    “Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition” has a new opponent — the popular match-3 puzzle game “Puzzle & Dragons,” developer GungHo Online Entertainment announced on Monday. The Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Collab is already underway and ends on March 3. During this time, players can make their way through three brand new “Puzzle & Dragons” [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    Epic Games Suing Organizers of Disastrous 'Fortnite' Festival

    Epic Games is suing the organizers behind a U.K. “Fortnite” festival that happened over the weekend, according to Epic Games. Fortnite Live Norwich was billed as the “Fortnite” event of the year. The two-day festival advertised outdoor laser tag, a climbing wall, archery, and more. Tickets started at £12, with wristbands for unlimited access going [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content