The director of a film is always one of the highest roles during the film production and is perhaps only second to the producer. The same applies to the role of direction within game development and is therefore equally important.
Within the art studio the art director is in control and responsible for the visual style and quality of art in a game. The main clue is in the name f the job role, and so, the art director is responsible for defining the visual 'direction' of a game, this will include everything a player can see in the game as well as colour, mood, tone, texture details, and will cover all aspects of the game, character, environment, assets etc. The art director works closely with the games designer and carries the burden of communicating the vision of the game to the art team and therefore one of the most important aspects of any directors job is to pre-visualise the end product to ensure there is a consistency of style throughout the project.
Art direction is an extremely important role, particularly now when games companies are under huge amounts of pressure to deliver first class game titles with virtually no margin for error and project budgets reaching into multiple millions of pounds.
The art director should work closely with the lead artists of a project team to ensure that the game designers vision and the artistic vision for the game are carried out and achieved in the final product. Also, with an art director and lead artist working closely together they can take on certain jobs together meaning aspects of the project are completed more efficiently and again retains, or should retain consistency within the game's final visual outcome.
It is the job of the art director to have an open line of communication with all of the team. Again this will ensure that consistency throughout the project is achieved, but will also ensure that the game designer's vision is achieved within the final product.
From watching the special features of 'Black Hawk Down' I made a few notes on important aspects within the art direction of the film that I think can be applied to art direction in any field;
-To gather as much reference material as you can, they referred to this as 'pin-ups'.
-Photograph own stuff (scouting).
-Storyboard, this is to ensure exploration before doing something final and includes information within sketches and drawings
-A response to the visual imagery.
-To pre-visualise the end product.
Its all about the art!