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Pre-rendered background technical question

Oct 27, 2017
1,480
#52
It's a combination of a few things:
  • The unique framing of the shots from angles that you rarely see anymore since the standardization of third-person, freely controllable cameras that center around the character.
  • That distinctive 90's CGI look that evokes nostalgia
  • The fact that these CG renders were lovingly painted over for the final product that you see in the game. That finishing touch adds so much more detail and lends everything a very warm, handcrafted feel.
The unique framing certainly helps as there have been fixed or isometric camera experiments by modders in more modern games(Resident Evil 2 and Fallout 4 come most immediately to mind) and to me they still have much of the vibe intact even without 90s CGI. As does an actual modern game that uses them, Pillars of Eternity.
 
Oct 28, 2017
45
#55
As someone who likes recreating old-school 90's RE-style backgrounds as a hobby, I think the "look" has a lot to do with the limitations they had at the time. The blend of low-poly objects, low-res textures and simplistic lighting is what gives the backgrounds that 90's look. Also, at least with the PSX-era RE games, the backgrounds were rendered in a measly 320x240 resolution and had color dithering and compression artifacts, so I guess that also plays a part in giving them their characteristic look. You can get pretty close to emulating the look with current 3D modelling software:

 
Last edited:
Oct 25, 2017
9,022
France
#58
Was any painting or other touching up done for most 7 backgrounds? A lot of those look rather plainly 3D
I don't know if they had any painting for FFVII, but the FFIX art team had Hollywood-grade international artists from the US and from Europe, who also worked on The Spirits Within and who continue to have a career in American films to this day. The FFVII art team on the other hand were "simply" Japanese video game artists.
 
OP
OP
signal
Oct 28, 2017
14,509
#59
I don't know if they had any painting for FFVII, but the FFIX art team had Hollywood-grade international artists from the US and from Europe, who also worked on The Spirits Within and who continue to have a career in American films to this day. The FFVII art team on the other hand were "simply" Japanese video game artists.
Purity of 3D ruined by gaijin smh.
 
Oct 28, 2017
664
#60
As people have mentioned, the "look" mainly comes from the quality of CG rendering avaible during the 90's/early 2000s, generally from basic scanline renderers or Pixar's REYES-based Renderman engine at the high end. Lots of basic phong shading, low res textures and lighting with ultra sharp shadows and no indirect illumination. In a way, it wasn't too dissimilar from the sort of techniques games were using in the 2000's, just with the rendering being a lot sharper and the models smoothed out with Nurbs or subdivision.

Look at some CG animated films at the time and you can see they share much the same look:


(Toy Story)



(A Bugs Life)



(Antz)

And these are some of the highest end examples from that period - most games back then would be working with considerably smaller budgets, which is obviously going to have huge knock-on effect to the CG.
 
Last edited:
Jun 24, 2018
789
#62
Early to late 90s CG in general was lacking general rendering features that we have today.

For example....

  • No ambient occulusion
  • Phong shading
  • Ambient lighting is a solid value
  • No reflections, only specular highlights
  • Over reliance on subdivision modelling and smoothing
  • Use of bump maps instead of normal maps
That's pretty much it. You could achieve this look in real-time now but it definitely would have been a feat back then.
I'm pretty sure it's the opposite. 90s 3D models are mostly done with NURBS which doesn't handle creases very well. Not to mention NURBS is designed for CAD, it's hard to model anything complex. SubD modeling really started to become a thing since 2000s.
 
OP
OP
signal
Oct 28, 2017
14,509
#63
As people have mentioned, the "look" mainly comes from the quality of CG rendering avaible during the 90's/early 2000s, generally from basic scanline renderers or Pixar's REYES-based Renderman engine at the high end. Lots of basic phong shading, low res textures and lighting with ultra sharp shadows and no indirect illumination. In a way, it wasn't too dissimilar from the sort of techniques games were using in the 2000's, just with the rendering being a lot sharper and the models smoothed out with Nurbs or subdivision.

Look at some CG animated films at the time and you can see they share much the same look:


(Toy Story)



(A Bugs Life)



(Antz)

And these are some of the highest end examples from that period - most games back then would be working with considerably smaller budgets, which is obviously going to have huge knock-on effect to the CG.
Might be the considerably more realistic lighting, but these look way different to me.