| ||Streamline Studios: Studio Profile|
13 September 2006
“With these new game engines we’re getting pretty close to photorealism!” says Renier Banninga, as he is reviewing the latest next-gen models created with his team at Streamline Studios. “With all these models it’s like raising a whole city with the click of a button.”
It’s a typical rainy morning in Amsterdam; much like it was five years ago when he teamed up with his three buddies to found the studio.
Supplying game developers with everything they need to build and populate their games, Renier and his peers have grown the company from a garage operation with four guys to a full-fledged business with over 50 people.
Having worked with game studios since 2001, they cater to developers who are facing tight deadlines, are understaffed, or simply want to focus on game design while having someone else manage most of the graphics production. “It works both ways, says Renier. “We get to do all the cool stuff and our clients get to focus on making the game fun while we make it look gorgeous.” They must be onto something, having worked with household names such like Epic Games, THQ, DICE, Codemasters, Electronic Arts, AMD, Lionhead, and others.
Some of their project highlights include the CG commercial and intro for Ghost Recon 2, hundreds of buildings for THQ’s Saint’s Row for Xbox 360, the acclaimed ONS-Torlan and intro cinematic for Epic Games’ UT2004, space stations for X3 Reunion, and the cinematics for James Bond 007: Nightfire for Gearbox/EA.
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|“Most of our projects are six to 12 months long. So by now, all of our artists have some sort of Attention Deficit Disorder,” Renier adds jokingly. “They love to get on with new challenges and jump into new projects.”|
Unlike a game developer, Streamline Studios rarely works on just one project at the studio, instead getting heavily involved with several projects in a year. “We love it all, CG movies or real-time models, and the CG commercial for Ghost Recon 2 was a big step for our studio,” Renier says. “However in the last few years there has been a clear shift towards supporting AAA game titles with high-end real-time engines.”
Outsourcing for games has skyrocketed over the last five years, with most game developers utilizing outsourcing already or planning to do so in the near future. Although competition on the market is fierce, Renier and his colleagues remain unshaken. Stefan Baier, Executive Producer at the studio, explains, “There are a lot of different types of outsourcing companies catering to the game studios. Unlike a pure production house, we work together with our clients to develop solutions and take over a whole branch of their development.”
Stefan explains that the high fidelity of work required by their clients often mandates pre production and concepting phases, which help to get many of the characteristics of the model approved before actual production begins. “It’s of course important from a production point of view, but artistically it’s the best of both worlds for our art team,” Stefan adds. “Our partners know what they will get early on and we get to be involved in the actual design stages of development.”
Going back to the inception of the studio, Stefan recalls the studio’s multi-cultural origins. “Our original group joined together from South Africa, Germany, the US, and South America, so we have always had a very international spirit. We have continued to bring international talent to join us in Amsterdam. In the end we simply look for people who share our vision and that’s how all of us relate.”
“After all this time, we’re still all game fanatics,” says Renier.
“Maybe this is because of our roots in the mod community back to the late 90’s,” he adds, referring to the fact that the founders of Streamline originally got started in 1997 designing the mod-gone-retail game Gunman Chronicles, which was powered by the Half-Life engine. “At the end of the day what we look forward to most is not the paycheck but the day we can start playing the game that has our artwork and assets in it.”
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