|Kabushiki gaisha Vijuaru W?kusu|
|Industry||CGI animation for film, CGI animation for video games, Visual effects|
Number of locations
|Kazuyuki Ikumori (director)|
|Products||Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children|
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
|Parent||Square Enix Holdings|
Visual Works (Japanese: Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Vijuaru W?kusu) is a Japan-based CGI animation studio dedicated towards creating video game cut scenes and full-length feature films for Square Enix. Visual Works was founded as the CGI department for Square and was responsible for creating the pre-rendered CG openings for the company, starting with Final Fantasy VII in 1997.
Beginning with Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2005) the company began to work on stand-alone CGI films, continuing with Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV (2016). After the acquisition of Taito and Eidos Interactive by Square Enix, Visual Works branched out their functionality to create cinematic scenes for Square Enix's acquired publishing brands, whilst continuing to primarily work on Square Enix's in-house properties. Visual Works are assisting Square Enix with the lighting and cinematic direction of the Kingdom Hearts franchise for the high definition entries.
Visual Works was founded as a subsidiary CGI production company for Japanese video game developer and publisher Square around 1997. The company's first project was the 1997 Final Fantasy VII. They have continued to produce video game scenes for the company, remaining a subsidiary after the merger of Square and Enix into Square Enix in 2003, and expanding to more video game franchises and genres after the acquisitions by Square Enix of Taito and Eidos Interactive.
In 2005, Visual Works produced their first stand-alone project, the feature-length CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. They produced a second stand-alone film, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, in 2016.
The studio's creative freedom in creating cutscenes varies from project to project. Director Kazuyuki Ikumori explained in 2015 that some projects allow them complete freedom to decide the direction of the scenes and where they best fit, while others more narrowly define for the studio the length and location of the scene and how it begins and ends. Some projects also consult with the studio on which scenes work better as interactive scenes than passive cutscenes. Visual Works does not try to have different styles based on if a game originates in Japan or Western countries, such as for former Eidos properties, but instead try to match the style of the game series or development studio. Ikumori noted that that for some series, such as those by Crystal Dynamics or IO Interactive, they receive a lot of detail about the feeling of the scenes, which they take as a starting point, but for others such as Final Fantasy they know the series so well that they can easily match the developers' intent. Ikumori credits this last to his previous work as a map and character designer for the Final Fantasy series.
Visual Works uses motion capture to design the movements of their CGI characters; Ikumori has described the process as being "really about the center of balance and that transition of balance" than about the exact motions. Especially for more fantasy-oriented series, they use the motion capture data as a basis to overlay with more exaggerated, "flashy" movements that still reflect the way the characters normally move.