Uncharted 4 Could Look Better, Says Photographer

Uncharted 4 Could Look Better, Says Photographer

Most people probably looked at the first footage of Nathan Drake's next adventure and were impressed by how Uncharted 4 looked. Not photographer Adam Myhill. He thinks the lighting in A Thief's End could be improved. And went ahead and showed how it could happen.

Myhill's a guy who's worked as a lighter, photographer and director of photography on a plethora of live-action and digital projects. He's also a fan of the Uncharted games. When he saw the premiere of Nathan Drake's upcoming PS4 debut, Myhill thought something was "off":

When the latest trailer for Uncharted 4 which recently came out, I was impressed with the gameplay and graphics but something was off.. The colour grading was perplexing… blacks weren't black, whites weren't white — and I doubt the talented people at Naughty Dog were going for an Instagram filter effect, so I threw the trailer up on my colour grading studio to have a closer look.

There's a bit of jargon to wade through — daunting if you're not involved in lighting or film professions. But, as I understand it, the gist is that there's a whole philosophy of lighting and colour manipulation that can make so-called photorealistic games look even more like reality.

Uncharted 4 Could Look Better, Says Photographer
Uncharted 4 Could Look Better, Says Photographer

Even if you don't understand the technical language, the results are plain to see. It's important to note that Myhuill isn't critiquing the unfinished state of a work-in-progress and that he's working off of a compressed-to-all-heck YouTube video:

I must say I'm not wanting to come across as critical towards the talented Uncharted art team. I love the stuff you guys make, your games are absolutely amazing, and I know this game isn't out for a while yet so I'm not trying to be negative whatsoever. This post is about exploring how film-grade colour grading techniques and tools can apply to games. I believe there's room for improvement with game engine colour tools, and with bringing film techniques and the role of 'Colorist' to video game production.

Rather, he seems to be interested in how the tools and knowledge from one, older visual entertainment medium can improve the creations in another. Not a bad way to look things.


    Which one is his? I presume the second time one and it looks so uncanny Valley it's not funny

      it would likely improve in motion but yeh, getting dangerously close to uncanny valley, but I think some of the design choice might be exactly to avoid the effect. When pixar were making Finding Nemo they went through a similar issue with the water, they were more than capable of making photorealistic water with the light doing all the right things but decided against it for artistic reasoning.

      The one that doesn't have an orangeish tint over everything is his.

        Yeah, which looks uncanny, photorealism is not always the answer

      The GIF at the top before and after look the same to me...

      I'd also be interested to know which is which for the other two pics, coz I agree the second one is off.

      That's fascinating - I think the second one looks miles better, and I don't think it's gone anywhere near the Valley.

      His grading really focussed on the environment more than the faces. While his grading on the faces is technically correct it exposes the problems of photorealism and CGI. Not always a good mix, especially in stills.

      My main problem is his assumption that Naughty Dog didn't know what they were doing. The 'instagram' filter benefits CGI by softening the edges and harsh highlights that expose the technicality. Also, instagram is so popular right now - muted tones and neutrals are much more popular than solid whites.

    Uncharted could look better? You mean by putting it on PC and not making it a port?

    Sounds like he's really just interested in getting a job there. There are worse ways to apply, I suppose. Good luck, buddy.

      Yeah but coming across like a know-it-all and then publicly uploading photoshopped enhanced still shots from a compressed youtube video of a work-in-progress game is not going to get many peoples attention for the right reasons

      I'd be more insulted than anything else

      He won't get a job with this, anyone who has any experience with video or photo editing software could replicate these results.

      Sounds like he already has a pretty niche job, I wouldn't be ditching that for games development. Niche jobs usually pay quite well.

    That's true :-). He could have done it privately. Don't think he'll make any friends with a 'Look what I can do to your work' stunt.

    Last edited 17/12/14 4:28 pm

      Worst case scenario: people are mean on the internet.
      Best case scenario: game comes out looking way better.

      Seems worthwhile releasing to me.

    It looks like an output issue. PS4s are set, by default, to a limited RGB output. You can go into the settings and change it to full, and suddenly all of your games have true blacks and whites.

      You're supposed to use Limited-RBG on home TV's, Full-RGB is for use with computer monitors because they don't have the range of colours that a normal TV has.

    I have not had a chance to play any uncharted game yet. But, as a photographer myself, I would say that that the crushed black and highlights as well as the dis-colouration are deliberate design choices to make the game distinctive.

    Last edited 19/12/14 12:28 pm

    Did anybody tell this guy that this game is currently *in-development*?

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