Even when rendered real-time, cutscenes tend to look better than gameplay. Is this just the magic of framing and lighting? Or are there more tricks and optimizations happening, ‘hidden’ before our very eyes?

There’s a lot of elements that go into making the viewer of a scene feel a certain way. Lighting, framing, field of view, depth of field, shot composition, camera motion, the use of color, and many more elements are taken into consideration when crafting cinematics. There is an entire academic field (cinematography) dedicated to this. You might not notice these elements at work consciously, but your subconscious brain does. Just watch this video of Street Fighter 4’s Ultra combos without cinematic cameras and observe how different it feels:

Many of these don’t feel anywhere near as strong or as cool without the cinematic camera movements and angles. The hits often lack impact and the characters feel much smaller. Compare that to this video that includes the cinematic cameras. It’s a pretty major difference!

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