Triptych Ultrawide Storytelling in Combat Flight Sims

Can we make more out of the ultrawide 3840x1080 format in combat flight sims? We can show more simultaneously, contextually, in a three-column format that can be turned on and off.

A Complex Problem, A Simple Solution

Playing back a complex flight sim mission through video risks missing a lot of detail. You’re viewing from a single perspective - whether that’s a pilot, an external view of aircraft/ground units, or “god’s eye” views like maps or overviews.

You have a couple of choices. You can pause, rewind to try to capture different details and angles. But you lose the immediacy of the moment. The film doesn’t keep rolling. You can cut often, but visual links between the cuts aren’t guaranteed, so context can be lost.

I had an idea for a third solution - interpolation of multiple videos into a single ultrawide format. It can be “turned off” when not needed, and the action keeps flowing with no pauses or rewinding.

Here’s a video of the first attempt at this storytelling style - consider playing in fullscreen!

Some Thoughts on Improvements

There’s plenty this first video didn’t play with - external views, maps, kneeboard data. To show off the dynamism of a living battlefield, we can use either or both of the supplemental tiles to play much more about the world events in-game, rather than the tactical replay or real-world sim ride-along this first video does. Showing external views of bombs hitting targets, SAMs launching at the player, or the airplane landing from the runway’s perspective, can increase the sense of drama and make for better storytelling.

Another thing missing is communication between the tiles. For instance - there’s implied communication when firing the guns or missiles. The zoom-in to the left tile implies to the viewer - look here! Then, naturally, the eye drifts to the center tile as the missile comes off the rail. But, could it be more deliberate? We could use text cues at the bottom - taking a page from comic books - to shout “FOX THREE!” in the left hand pane, then “GET ‘EM” in the center pane as the missile tracks, making the eye track from left to right more explicit to ensure the viewer feels they’re capturing the story.

Finally, all tiles were synced up in time and were either in one-tile mode (no wing tiles) or three-tile mode (both wing tiles), there was never just one wing tile active. By offsetting the tiles in time and giving some visual cues to indicate the offset (slow-motion, black and white), we can distort time and be temporally in more than one place, not just proxemically. And, we could use just one or the other wing to designate an “interesting but not urgent” situation, whereas when both tiles slide in, the viewer knows it’s a serious, “all-in” situation like combat.

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