December 01, 2012

Shirogumi CG wizardry for Death by Degrees - Nina Williams

Tekken Bikini Swimsuit Costume CGI
In an effort to highlight the beauty of Shirogumi's masterful CG wizardry I put some of my direct-feed screen captures of Death by Degrees' stunning FMV cinematics through a very extensive (and in 2 cases several-hours-long) 'Photoshop remastering process'. Now that sounds pretentious doesn't it :-D Check out the results and a little history lesson on Shirogumi Inc. after the jump...

Tekken Nina Bikini Costume Render
白組 Shirogumi CG Bikini Nina Tekken
Tekken CG Artwork CGI
CG Render Opening Tekken Nina
Shirogumi CG Render Movie CGI
Shirogumi CGI Pre-Rendered Movie
Nina Williams Death by Degrees
Tekken Anna CG Render Costume
Tekken CGI Anna Battle Suit
白組 Shirogumi CGI Render CG
Shirogumi Tekken Namco CG
Tekken Namco CGI Nina Game
Project Nina Namco Tekken
Death by Degrees CG Movie
Death by Degrees Tekken CG
CG CGI Movie Tekken
Tekken CGI Render Shirogumi
Shirogumi CG Art Design CGI
Tekken Nina CG Art
白組 Shirogumi Nina Williams CG
Nina Williams CG Rendered Movie
I was stoked when in early 2004 Namco announced that they had signed up Shirogumi Inc. to create pre-rendered CG movie sequences for their then upcoming Nina Williams vehicle Death by Degrees. This was at a time when real-time rendering wasn't advanced enough to attain the greater level of visual detail game developers were looking for in their story telling and games used to have lengthy full motion video intros, endings and/or interludes. Shirogumi arguably was the one studio that even people outside the industry had already heard of. Responsible for pre-rendered cinematics in games such as the Onimusha series and Resident Evil Zero, Shirogumi had earned a reputation as one of the best in their branch and quickly became the top go-to studio for industry heavyweights such as Capcom, Namco and Square-Enix. 
In the case of Death by Degrees Shirogumi did, once again, deliver! The opening cinematic that sees Nina wrestling 6 muscle bound hunks in a giant wire cage before taking a swim in a Roman ruins inspired pool is a whopping 5.40 minutes long. 

With their Soul Edge opening movie still to this day regarded by many as one of the best pre-rendered video game intros of all time and the many state-of-the-art Tekken opening movies that amazed players, critics and industry veterans around the world on both the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2, Namco has always been known for their high quality CG work, but not only was Death by Degrees' opening cinematic longer than any of these, it was also much more complexly animated and more lavishly detailed than all of Namco's prior forays into pre-rendered movie extravaganza. Even the critics caught on and, despite largely panning the game, praised its beautifully crafted CG cinematics. 

This is one HD re-release that unfortunately will never be. It's such a shame that BluRay is about 10 years late and the 1 hour of pre-rendered footage had to be greatly compressed to fit on a PS2 game DVD. My only hope left is that either Namco or Shirogumi Inc. have these CG movie sequences stored away somewhere in their digital library for me to one day see them in all their uncompressed glory.
Established in 1974, the Shibuya-based group Shirogumi was formed by ex-Toei Animation studio members and worked for the better part of its existence in the field of animated pictures. For the last fifteen years, the company presided by Tatsuo Shimamura turned to the area of special visual effects and computer graphics, actively participating in the creation of celebrated Japanese TV series' and movies such as Returner, Always Sanchome no Yuhi or the award-winning anime Piano No Mori.
Their liaison with the industry of videogames has also been essential to their development, counting with dozens of participations not only in the production of pre-rendered movie sequences but also in the creation of character models, props, lighting and even animation. With clients ranging from large enterprises (such as NAMCO, CAPCOM, Square-Enix) to smaller and independent ensembles (Grasshopper, Punchline, etc), Shirogumi has earned a unyielding reputation as one of the most reliable and professional studios in their branch, accounting for their ever increasing demand. Apart from the projects where Shirogumi plays a central role in the development course, the employment of specialists from this provenance as a part of the support and consulting staff is also very frequent. In this advantageous environment, susceptible to exponential growth, names like Akira Iwamoto and Takashi Yamazaki from the Shirogumi workforce soon became a reference of CGI directing.
(Visit to read more about Shirogumi and the conundrum of pre-rendered VS real-time) 

Notable video game projects Shirogumi has worked on include Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Tales of Hearts, SoulCalibur III and Armored Core V for Namco; Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, Onimusha II and Onimusha III for Capcom; Parasite Eve II, Final Fantasy VIII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and other Final Fantasy titles for Square-Enix.

You can follow Shirogumi Inc. on Twitter and see pictures and videos of some of their work on their official site.
All images are either screenshots or collages of multiple screenshots that I have taken of Death by Degrees. (This game is a beast to take screenshots of, let me tell you.)

1 comment:

  1. Gah, I thought you'd disappeared. I was worried! :(

    Anyways, yeah, however many issues I had with DbD (although I liked it far more than most for at least TRYING to do something original in the 3rd-person action genre), the FMVs were and still are beautiful to behold. Interesting also that despite the glamourous settings the game often used, the art style of these videos always seemed more gritty and 'dark' than anything from the core Tekken games; I'd like to think this was a conscious decision, to better illustrate how Nina sees the world she lives in.

    Oh, btw, I got my Wii U and TTT2 for it, so hopefully I'll be sending some amateurish screenshots your way soon.