Interview with Mandalorian Captures
Game photographer Mandalorian Captures reveals how they created their 332nd Battalion trooper screenshots
Shortly after Dave Filoni dropped the bombshell announcement that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be back for another tour of duty, amazing screenshots of 332nd Battalion clone troopers started showing up on my Twitter timeline. The 332nd Battalion’s Ahsoka-themed armour is only available (as a mod) to gamers playing Star Wars: Battlefront II on PC but thanks to the efforts of modders and gaming photographers, we’re finally able to see shots of Ahsoka’s soldiers in action.
Some of these stunning in-game photographs were taken by Mandalorian Captures, a game photography enthusiast from the United Kingdom. I caught up with them to learn more about the mods, techniques, and tools they used to create their breathtaking shots and find out what they thought about the Clone Wars revival.
Hello there! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am from the UK and live in London. Central London is pretty attractive and a tourist hub but I can tell you that it is very expensive living here!
When did you start Mandalorian Captures and what inspired you to pursue in-game photography as a hobby?
I’ve always had an interest in photography in general, but I’m also a long-time gamer. I felt that capturing in-game photography was more of a hobby that I would enjoy in the long-term… and it’s cheaper than travelling! Despite having little to no experience in photography, I initially started taking in-game photographs when I was gifted the game Horizon Zero Dawn on PS4.
At first, I was just casually playing through the game and I thought to myself “What a wonderfully created environment!” only to realise a few days later that it has an in-game photo mode – which, in my opinion, is one of the best in-game photo modes around. So I started fiddling with the photo mode and captured some photos that I thought at the time were so brilliant (they were, in fact, very basic). I felt like sharing them but I didn’t know how to.
Then, I had an idea: I could post some of them on Instagram, which is profoundly known for being a great site for posting photographs. This was my initial inspiration for gaming photography as a hobby and I’ve continued to post my work there ever since.
Long story short, after some time and after saving up some money, I decided to buy myself a PC. And as a huge Star Wars fan, I’d always wanted to capture photos from EA DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront (2015). However, I ended up waiting until Star Wars: Battlefront II because the first instalment was coming to an end and I felt that it would be better to start fresh… which I did and that is how Mandalorian Captures was born.
I started the Instagram account in December 2017 and gradually expanded by posting my captures on Twitter and Flickr. My inspiration for Star Wars: Battlefront photography mostly came from seeing the wonderful images created by Battlefront Captures & Berduu and then seeing Battlefront Captures and UndeadPathfinder’s amazing cinematics.
In fact, I had started seeing Battlefront Captures’ photos long before I’d even thought of creating my own content; I thought they were mesmerising. I’d also like to add that once I started following the community more closely, I was inspired by others such as K-2SO Captures, Inferno Captures, Warbow Captures, and The Gamers Zone (the last two and Battlefront Captures also helped me with my PC setup). All of these people have posted fantastic photos from Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) and because of them, I plan on visiting Battlefront (2015) on PC one day in order to capture my own photos from that game.
Can you tell us a little about the tools you use to create your shots? For instance how did you create those amazing shots of clone troopers in 332nd armor?
The photo mode tools that I use and highly recommend for anyone who wants to capture photos from either Battlefront game is Cinetools by Matti Hietanen. There is another in-built software called Nvidia Ansel, but without Cinetools, there wouldn’t be any Battlefront photos or quality Battlefront II photos. Cinetools is much more advanced and useful than Nvidia Ansel; you have more control over what you do and there are more settings to choose from. For example, it offers custom lighting, depth of field (DoF), exposure, and field of view (FoV). These are the key options that I configure to create my shots. Learning the right combination of settings is essential for any style of photo you want to take, whether it’s portrait or landscape.
For the 332nd trooper captures, I used a high FoV and a DoF in between 1-4 and added several custom lights. In my opinion, FoV and DoF are essential for capturing a cinematic-looking photo. Sometimes, if the settings are too high, they can hinder the image and make it look like a blur fest; too low (or no DoF) and you’ll make your shot look less cinematic.
Then again, it’s all about perception and how you see your image; there can never be a right or wrong image. I just think that learning how to use the features mentioned above will help someone go a long way if they ever want to get into virtual/gaming photography (or photography in general).
Note: The mod that allows you to play as a 332nd Battalion trooper in the PC version of Battlefront II was created by Orthohex and Photino and can be downloaded from NexusMods.Com.
I see that you’ve taken a lot of shots of Battlefront II’s campaign and multiplayer modes. Has the game lived up to your expectations? And which characters would you like to see in the game or in future BF games?
Battlefront II showed a lot of promise and potential in its lead up to release. Then the whole micro-transaction and progression debacle occurred just a few days before its release, which changed the complexion of the game’s future. The campaign was decent in terms of the way it presented new locations and hero missions, especially Pillio and Vardos. But I never felt that the story was gripping enough or thrilling since it used the generic villain-turns-hero concept yet again. If Iden had stayed on the Empire’s side and formed a shadow or rogue specialist division, that would’ve been more thrilling to me.
In terms of multiplayer, the gameplay definitely met my expectations and the heroes feel so much smoother to use, especially in lightsaber combat, compared to Battlefront (2015). It’s more balanced, fair, and the Battle Points system works like a charm.
Contentwise, however, I’d say no. A few months after the TLJ season, the game became increasingly mishandled and the Clone Wars content was pushed back to a much later date due to the fixing of the progression system and the Han Solo season being forced upon the developers at DICE. It is pretty evident that the developers at DICE have limited control on what they can produce despite wanting what the same things the community wants. Many decisions require approval from Lucasfilm and Disney, which doesn’t help. It’s actually quite sad that one last-minute decision to include a pay-to-win feature changed the entire future of the game. I could go on about this for days but it’s just an unfortunate series of events.
Whilst content hasn’t been as free flowing as it could be, we are still getting “quality of life” updates alongside content and changes that the community has asked for. It’s not like DICE isn’t listening; they’re aware of our concerns, loud and clear. It’s just that they have not been allowed to provide solutions to our concerns in a way that they would have liked.
As for characters, there is only one that’d I’d absolutely love to see in the game and that’s Ahsoka Tano! I wish they would include both her Clone Wars and Fulcrum versions. Just imagine hearing her lightsabers from Rebels in the Frostbite engine. OOF!
I would also like to see Captain Rex, Jango Fett, Padmé, Qui-Gon, Commander Cody, and a ton of other prequel characters (maybe even Jar-Jar). Battlefront II STILL has a lot of Original Trilogy content despite the fact that Battlefront (2015) was based almost entirely on the OT and desperately lacked content from other eras. So what better place to get Clone Wars-era content than from Battlefront II?!
Finally, no doubt you’ve heard that The Clone Wars is coming back next year. What do you hope to see in those final 12 episodes?
Thank you for reminding me. I just got hyped thinking about it again!
That’s a hard question but I would like to see everything tie in with Star Wars Rebels (I’m sure mastermind Dave Filoni can do just that). I want to see the Siege of Mandalore in full and see Order 66 happen to the other Jedi not already seen in Revenge of the Sith and those who escaped it, like Ahsoka (with Rex’s help). Not to mention getting to see Darth Maul fight Ahsoka. I can imagine that being in the final episodes, which would be a massive send-off for the series.
Also would love to see Anakin’s further downfall to the Dark Side and maybe even the addition of Kanan Jarrus (Caleb Dume) and Han as children. The humour of the battle droids, droids acting oblivious, and clones sometimes doing crazy things…
There’s so much that I would love to see, too many for me to list here! It’s going to be one hell of a roller-coaster ride, one that will definitely play with our emotions, especially those last few episodes (it’s a bit sad thinking about it already). Imagine if there would be more than one new season…
I’d like to thank Mandalorian Captures for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing his thoughts and hobby with us. If you would like to see more of his in-game photography or follow him on social media, you can find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr.
All of the screenshots featured in this article are property of Mandalorian Captures and have been republished here with their permission.
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