Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Art of Screen Shots – Angles and Distance

I mentioned in the last post that all you really have control of when taking a screen shot is what direction you face, how high up you are and how close you are to the subject.

This post is going to tackle that. 

There are two halves involved in the creation of a fantastic screen shot.  Firstly, giving yourself something to work with.  Secondly, bringing out what you are looking for.

In order to give yourself something to work with, it is not simply a case of finding something you think looks cool and pressing the PrtScr button.  Taking a little bit of time to explore the shot can make all the difference.

What direction you face and how high up you are (thank God for flying in the old world!) combine to give you the ability to control angle.  When you see a subject on your screen you think will make a great shot, try to remember that in WoW most objects are represented in 3d space.  This means you can fly around it, over it and sometimes under it.  The straight on at eye level shot is not always best.  In fact, moving your character around a bit can open up some very interesting and unique angles you may not have seen before.

This shot of the Stormwind dwarven quarter illustrates the concept of having to think in 3d space.  The black arrow represents the approximate spot I’m going to stand for the second shot.

Stormwind Dwarven Quarter

I chose this spot because the cranes provide a useful tool to illustrate the 3d aspect of the shot.  So this perspective shows the area, but doesn’t really provide the viewer any sort of immersion.
By shifting the viewpoint to here: 


Just Craning Around 

There are things happening, well sort of.  From one corner descends a claw and from a side comes some logs! That’s right, some logs! Ahem.  What it does is give the viewer a perspective of moving through the area, not just viewing it.  The angle of the shot makes all the difference. 

Take this example as an even better illustration of how shifting the angle of your shot can make it so much more interesting and dynamic.

1st Angle – Elwynn Forest Barracks
2nd Angle – The Lion

The second element of a shot that we can control is distance.  By this I mean how far from your initial subject you are.  By moving your perspective backwards or forwards, you can drastically change the type of shot you get.  This element is fairly straight forward (hehe) but can can make a huge difference to the outcome.  Shifting backwards could bring a part of the shot into view that adds something different and it can also give you more to play with when you get to some post-shot work.  Take these two shots of the waterfall near Stormwind that everyone has flown over a trillion times on the gryphon route.



I wish that was my house

This in itself is not a bad shot, plenty to catch the eye. Look what happens when I move the viewpoint back though, the shot completely changes:

Rivers Wide, Canyons Deep

Moving backwards, in this case a long way, provides a totally different shot, albeit of the same thing.  What I’m really trying to get across here is that it pays to take a little bit of time and shift your perspective.  Fly up and down, back and forth and over and under.  Look for the angle that you think shows off a viewpoint that is interesting.  It is amazing what you can find!

Next post I’ll start having a look at post-shot techniques.

V


The Art of Screen Shots

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In the next few posts, I am going to run through a few of the techniques and mindsets that I employ when I am taking photos screen shots.
Taking a screen shot of something like WoW is used for so many different purposes that I am not going to try and cover them all.  What I am going to focus on is the type of screenshot that doesn’t involve a UI or dead/sleeping characters arranged in a phallic symbol.  In other words, serious screen shots of in-game locations, encounters and characters.  Taking a screen shot is pretty similar to taking a photo, just with less complexity.  You don’t need to worry about light meters, exposure and shutter speeds, but you do need to think about composition and subject. 
For me, the biggest thing about taking a great screen shot is being able to see the end product before you take it.  This is the same when taking a photo, and I think divides the good photographers from the great ones.  What I mean by this is that some people look at a building and just see the building, others look at the same building and see angles from which they could take a photo to capture that pattern in the windows, or the old fire escape stairs around the back or any number of potential shots.
The same principle applies in-game.  You need to look for the final product on your screen.  Sometimes this can be the entire screen, or sometimes just a small portion of it.  What may just be a waterfall could in fact be a great shot if you take the time to look at it from different angles, put different objects in the foreground or check it out from different distances.  All you really have control of when taking a screen shot is what direction you face, how high up you are and how close you are to the subject.
Here is an example of what I mean.  The shot below of the Stormwind Cathedral is just that, a shot of the Cathedral.  I did however make sure I took it from an angle which gave me a view of the stairs out front as well as the mountains and setting sun in the background.  Notice also the angle of the Cathedral itself – front on is not always best!
Before – Original shot of SW Cathedral
However, with a few modifications, the Cathedral is suddenly a lot more interesting:
After – Modified version
You may not agree that the shot is any more interesting, it is after all just the Cathedral.  Something I’m sure has been shot to death already. If that’s the case, treat it more as an example of what you can do.  A screen shot is not just what you see on your monitor in front of you; it has the potential to be so much more.
I will outline in the next few posts what I do and run you through how to look for a shot on your screen and the benefits of height, distance and angle.  I’ll touch on some modifications I use like cropping and adjustment of colour, clarity and the use of lens correction.  Don’t worry, I don’t use Photoshop.
Here is another example of adding what I see as more atmosphere to the screen shot for you:
Before – BWD Central Chamber Ceiling

 

After – The Gallows
Look out for the upcoming posts and feel free to post comments below or even some screen shot requests!
Disclaimer: If any requests require me to be in a raid like ICC, I give no guarantees.
V

Atramedes as Melee

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In between dodging sonic circles, sonic bombs, sonic fire on the ground and in the air and some sort of death laser ability, Atramedes is actually (I think) a fun fight.  The best thing is, the fight only needs one tank so I can spec frost and get my dps on!
The fight itself is another Cataclysm encounter that moves away from the stand on X, do Y and Z will happen mantra and more to a mindset of making sure you are keeping yourself alive and raid aware to eventually kill the boss (like Omnotron).
The fight employs a mechanic somewhat like the insanity meter in the Ulduar Yogg-Saron fight.  Basically, if you take any sort of damage from the boss, you gain sound.  The more sound you have, the greater the amount of damage you take from the boss – so it’s a circular arrangement.  If you reach 100 sound, the boss will kill you.  TLDR: sound bad.

As a melee dps, what you need to do is very similar to the tank so I will cover both roles here.  There are a few abilities that you must stay on top of to survive this fight.  There are two phases to the fight, both of which I will go through.


In the first phase, in which the boss is on the ground being tanked near the stairs, the following abilities are in play:
Sonar Pulse:  This sends out concentric circles (about 4 per cast) that must be avoided.  Essentially you need to strafe to one side and find a gap in between two circles, trying not to let one touch you.  The trick to avoiding these as melee is to anticipate them.  First, try and stay at max melee range.  Atramedes has quite a large hit box so you can stand a fair way back.  Second, as soon as you see the circles appear underneath the boss, start to move in a direction.  This is because the rings are targeting a player and will move in a straight line towards the position the player was in at the time of targeting.  If you are on the move early you can find a gap earlier.  This is the same for both melee dps and tanks.
Sonic Breath:  Atramedes casts a flame breath at a player who must move to one side and “kite” the flame around.  The tank shouldn’t get targeted for this, so no need to worry!  For melee, just run to one side, away from where the ranged are standing, in a tight circle around the boss.  He will follow you, but if you reacted fast enough you should be fine.  See one of my earlier screen shots for this ability in action.
In this phase the boss also does some unavoidable aoe, but this must simply be healed through.
In the second phase, Atramedes is in the air and the tank simply becomes another target.

The only ability you need to be concerned about is Roaring Flame Breath.  The other abilities constitute crap on the ground that you shouldn’t stand in.   The Breath however, is a pain.  It will target the player with the highest sound and follow them.  If it hits them it both increases their sound and does some nasty damage.  Best way to avoid it is to always be on the move.  That way if it targets you, you already have a start on it.  It will speed up the longer it chases you so this is where the shields around the edge of the room come in.

In the ground phase, the shields should have been controlled by a ranged as they are closer to them.  During the ground phase they are used to stop Atramedes casting Searing Flame.  Too many ticks of that and it’s a wipe.  The shields should be hit as soon as he starts casting it, preferably even before it ticks.  When a shield is hit in any phase, all players sound is reset to zero.
In the air phase, the shields fulfil a slightly different role.  When one is hit, it causes the Roaring Flame Breath to stop following its current target and switch the player that hit the shield.  For this reason its best a player with some form of sprint does this.  We use a rogue.  They hit the shield and start running, popping sprint when the Breath gets close.  If you time this right, that’s all the kiting you should need to do.  The boss is in the air for 40 seconds, most of which the Breath must be kited.
Ideally you are looking at using only 1 shield per phase.  The problem is there are only 10 shields and each can only be used once.  This acts as the soft enrage.  If all the shields have been used and subsequently melted, you will wipe shortly because you are no longer able to reset sound levels.  My guild tends to go through 4 air phases leaving us with 2 emergency shields if things get a little hairy.
In the end, the fight is a rinse repeat of the ground/air phase.  It can take a little while for everyone to get the avoidance down pat, but once you do the fight should be fine.
Loved the fact he dropped my dps chest as well!
As always I leave you with this:
Lord Victor Nefarius: Leave now, pathetic alchemist. I anxiously await your next failure.
V

Some Magmaw shots

>Here are a few shots from our Guild Magmaw run tonight, was on my hunter for this one, which was a nice change from my DK.  We sent in a second team which consisted of people who hadnt really been on a raid with us before and some alts, including mine.  Was a good positive run.

The Worm’s Lair!

What exactly is worm spew made of?

Angelic!

Atramedes Kill

>Here are some nice screen shots of our Atramedes kill tonight 🙂

Coming in to land from Phase 2
Sonic Breath

The money shot!

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