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A closer look at Control's reality-bending VFX

October 7, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon

October 7, 2019 | By Alissa McAloon
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More: Console/PC, Art, Video

“We really adamantly make our visual effects part of the world, so they fit in and they blend and they get married to the scene.”

- Game director Mikael Kasurinen explains how VFX help sell the supernatural story of Control.

A recent Polygon video talks to VFX artists at developers like Avalanche Studios and Remedy Entertainment to dig into how developers create convincing explosions, realistic or otherwise.

The video as a whole offers an interesting look at how different studios approach laying out explosions and how different effects are used to sell concepts to players, and in the process offers an interesting look at Control’s unique take on both concepts.

As outlined in the video, taking down an enemy in Control causes a distortion-like explosion that’s difficult to describe. According to the VFX team at Remedy, that otherworldly appearance is exactly the goal and aims to sell the idea that the game’s spectral antagonist is shattering reality.

“So we take, for example, an enemy and we take information from the previous frame. We reproject it from the position of the camera enemy in the next frame, and we kind of draw this trail of the enemy," explains Control lead VFX artist Elmeri Raitanen. "But that would be boring to look at so then it gets advected with the fluid simulation and then, after that, it gets broken into the colors of dispersion.”

All put together, that creates an effect that shows a small, isolated distortion of the level with every enemy taken down, though the visual breakdown in the latter half of the video embedded above offers a more practical look at how each of those layers come together to create the effect.

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