Behind the scenes with the people of PlayStation
This week, we speak to Nigal Raymond, Motion Graphic Creative Director in the Worldwide Studios Creative Services Group. If you’ve ever watched a PlayStation press conference montage reel or a trailer for any of our first party games, chances are you’ve enjoyed the work of him and his team…
When and why did you join PlayStation?
I first joined PlayStation almost ten years ago, way back in September 2004. After finishing university I’d been working in the music industry as a designer and motion graphics artist for just under three years when I saw the opportunity to work at Sony on a music-based video game.
My previous job involved designing album covers, creating websites and animating music videos so I felt there would be a lot of overlap between the required skills and design sensibilities of my old job and this interesting new role.
After submitting my portfolio and showreel, I had two short interviews and was invited to join the (then) small and super-talented SingStar team working on their next game in the series. As the SingStar team grew in both size and success, my role and responsibilities evolved and I began creating video content for other games and exciting projects within the studio.
What exactly do you do at SCEE?
I’m now part of Sony’s Worldwide Studios Creative Services Group (CSG) where I help manage the Motion Graphics Department. I look after a small but amazingly talented team of video editors and motion graphic designers that create animated content for the WWS development teams and wider SCE marketing groups. We can work on anything and everything, ranging from game trailers and cut-scenes, to user interface designs and even the huge cinematic projections that open our press events.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Variety. My group gets to work on a lot of different projects and titles where we get to see them evolve from their earliest prototypes to final polished games.
This is actually a double edged sword – when you are working on a trailer you often have to see lots of cut-scenes or gameplay capture that gives away vital plot twists or spoils the ending of a game you are really looking forward to playing!
What’s been your proudest/most enjoyable moment at SCEE?
I have two stand-out memories, the first of which was seeing our opening video montage for GamesCom 2012 sat in the middle of the live audience in Cologne. It was great to see the culmination of weeks of hard work played out on a massive screen, and to witness first-hand the resulting crowd reaction was truly amazing.
Another notable achievement was my team being selected to create the very first video that would tease the upcoming announcement of the new PlayStation 4 console. It was initially a very difficult brief as we knew that we wouldn’t be able to reveal any real images or information about the new console before the event but we still had to generate interest in the upcoming announcement.
With this in mind we focused on what we knew so far and what we could hint at or imply. We knew the new machine would be sleek, extremely powerful and highly connected. We designed a short and evocative piece using the PlayStation brand icons to hint at the shape of things to come. It begins with the spark of an idea then the energy and tension builds throughout the piece as the iconic Triangle, Circle, Cross and Square are revealed and the final date and venue of the upcoming announcement is revealed.
The video generated over a million views within the first few hours as wild speculation began, and by the end of the first weekend we’d accumulated around six million views and our video has been re-shown on news sites and video channels around the world.
What was the last game you played, and what will be the next one?
I’m currently addicted to Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag on PS4. I was initially reluctant to play it as I’d much preferred the franchises earlier adventures around renaissance Italy but Ubisoft really nailed the naval aspect and sense of adventure in this one.
I’m also eagerly awaiting their next big release Watch_Dogs. I like the look of its contemporary setting and the fact that it deals with some of the more interesting and potentially dangerous aspects of our globally networked society.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to break into the industry?
I’d say there are a lot of preconceptions about what kind of jobs actually exist in the games industry that would probably dissuade some people from even looking into this industry in the first place.
There is obviously a huge amount of recruitment focused around the developers, producers and coders (and rightly so – they are essential to the process) but I know when I graduated from my graphic design degree that none of my course mates (myself included) had even thought that they might have a future in the video games industry.
However there are also a surprising number of other creative roles and skills required in making games and a lot of this is done in-house, rather than being out-sourced.
As part of PlayStation’s Creative Service Group, I’m lucky enough to work with some exceptionally talented illustrators, graphic designers, music licensors, sound designers, song writers and musicians on a day to day basis. All of these people work extremely closely with the development teams to really help bring these big ideas and experiences to life.
Like other areas of the entertainment or design industry, most applications come down to the strength of their design portfolios, video showreels or audio compositions. Maintaining a strong portfolio is the main thing that will help you stand out when applying and really break into working in games.
Of course some people will still insist that all we do is sit around play games all day, no matter what you tell them!
More people of PlayStation:
Ben Andac, Producer, Strategic Content