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Yusuke Naora’s SMU Lecture

February 26th, 2015 by Tony Garsow

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You can watch the entirety of the presentation on Twitch by clicking here.

This evening Final Fantasy Type-0 HD art director Yusuke Naora held a lecture at Southern Methodist University in Texas. During his presentation, he talked about his long career at Square Enix as an artist and shared concept artwork of old and new games alike — including Final Fantasy XV. We’ve got the summary of the presentation below, so take a look:

• Before Square Enix, Naora had a stint as a musician with part time jobs. Broke, he found for a job with a good art dpt. and good benefits.
• Challenges for Final Fantasy VI pixel art were CRT monitors and limited memory for art assets.
• There were passionate staff that would compete over their work appearing in the game because of that limitation.
• Naora says that moving on to the PS1 and PS2, being able to draw well became bigger requirement.

• Naora proposed the establishment of an art division that would focus on creating art assets in this new era. This was due to the size of development teams becoming much larger.
• Games with a camera and 3D allowed for a new level of expression.
• The explosion seen below from Final Fantasy VII is on a 2D background and the team hand drew the flames frame-by-frame.
• In the process of creating keyart, projecting the image and feeling of the game’s universe is important.

• Yoshitaka Amano was asked to make the Final Fantasy VIII logo based off this image of Squall and Rinoa.
• A concept art of Zanarkand shown includes a sketch plus color, visual, and emotional concepts.
• Onto the new era like Type-0 and FFXV, the level of expression increased drastically again, which required a new approach with physics-based rendering.
• Going from PSP to PS4, the team thought gold would be a better key color to express Final Fantasy Type-0.

• Naora talked about how real life experiences informed his imagination — he went on a trip to an island, which eventually served as inspiration for the island the Rubrum Akademia is on. Naora relates a story about seeing a cat that had been struck by a car, and using that to convey imagery in an artwork with Bahamut and Class Zero.

• Concept artwork of different locations within the Crown City in FFXV. Varying factors determine resources.
• The locations in this artwork are inspired by places in Shinjuku, even near the Square Enix offices. The staff went on mountain climbing trips to build personal experiences.
• In this current environment, the staff has switched from section-based work to task-based work with a wide variety of staff. Previously there were many specialized staff with individual tasks, but now there is a teamwork aspect with regard to ideas.
• Tomohiro Hasegawa (Kingdom Hearts series) is the enemy art director. He created this scupt of a behemoth. Using 3D scanning and mock models, the sculpt was worked into the game. For Leviathan, Hasegawa bought fish from a market and dissected it to learn about scales, etc. (They cooked and ate it after.)

• After the intermission, Naora creates a piece of concept art live based on a kabuto. While he doesn’t finish the work, he says he will take it back to Japan and finish there.

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