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Interview with Grant Voegtle, the Creator of The Last of Us: Cinematic Playthrough

When The Last of Us was released almost two years ago, a large majority of the acclaim was directed towards its cinematic feel. The gameplay, the cutscenes, the voiceovers, all of it had a very movie-like quality to it. Gamers were treated to an enhanced version of the game last year when Sony released The Last of Us: Remastered, which greatly upgraded the visuals of the experience.

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Since then, players have been caught up in the post-apocalyptic story, creating an endless variety of art, music, videos, and fiction surrounding the characters of the story. Perhaps the most ambitious of these creators is Grant Voegtle who took it upon himself to compile The Last of Us: Cinematic Playthrough  a multi-hour episode-spanning series on YouTube that showcases the entire story of The Last of Us in a tight cinematic style. After he debuted the first three episodes this month, I reached out to Grant to ask him about his work and what has been inspiring him to continue.

APGNation: What inspired you to create the cinematic playthrough?

Grant Voegtle: The idea for the cinematic playthrough came from a number of things all happening around the same time. It was about a year ago when they announced they were making a Last of Us movie, and a lot of people were against the idea because they felt it couldn’t possibly do the game justice. Around this same time, I was seeing a lot of people criticize the AI in the game, as well as the combat, saying it was super glitchy and didn’t deliver on the cinematic promise of the E3 demo. That hadn’t been my experience with the game though. I had a ton of very cinematic and well-choreographed action scenes play out in my time with the game, and I felt a cool video series could be made of it. Finally in December of last year, I put together a “Proof of Concept” video, demonstrating what the videos would look like and asking for feedback from my viewers about what they liked and what they didn’t. The response from people was way more positive than I thought it’d be, and it was then I decided I’d do the entire game in this format, as opposed to just highlight moments.

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APGN: How difficult has it been to achieve the desired results and angles on the first few tries?

Voegtle: Sometimes it’s not too hard. Other times I want to throw my controller through the roof. Typically, if it’s a quieter moment in the game where not much action is happening, the shots are pretty easy to get. If characters are moving around a lot or fighting though, it’s near impossible sometimes. The problem isn’t that the AI is glitchy (though occasionally it is), but that it’s unpredictable. Trying to craft a shot around a bunch of unpredictable elements interacting can take anywhere from 30 to 100 tries. Good examples are in the prologue when Joel’s carrying Sarah through the panicked streets. Dozens of NPC’s are tripping over each other and running around frantically. Trying to get a playthrough of that where nothing weird looking happened was super hard. Fighting the bloater in Bill’s Town must have taken upwards of 100 tries as well. The first 50 were figuring out how I wanted the fight to play out. The last 50 or so were getting it to happen that way smoothly. It’s a pain, but the end result has been worth the trial and error in my opinion.

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APGN: What has the community reaction been like?

Voegtle: The reaction has been somewhat small, but almost unanimously positive. Many people have told me that their non-gamer friends, parents and partners have gotten really into the story by watching the cinematic playthrough. That was one of the things I had hoped this series would allow people to do, so to hear that fans are getting to share the game now with people close to them is super fulfilling. Longtime fans of the game have said the series allows them to see the game through fresh eyes too, almost like seeing it for the first time again, which is also very cool to hear.

APGN: Do you think/hope Sony or Naughty Dog will take notice of the series?

Voegtle: Naughty Dog and Sony have taken notice of a number of my videos in the past already, so I feel I’m almost asking too much for them to take notice yet again. But it would be absolutely awesome if they did, and especially if they could help get the word out about the series to fans of the Last of Us.

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APGN: Are you looking forward to the forthcoming Last of Us movie?

Voegtle: I feel pretty neutral towards the upcoming movie currently. When I see a trailer I’ll probably get very excited. I’m mostly hopeful the movie shows to non-gamers that video games can take story telling seriously and can do it better than any other medium if done right.

APGN: Is there anything you’d like to say to current or new viewers?

Voegtle: To new viewers, if you’ve ever tried showing The Last of Us to a friend, a family member, or anyone else, and you couldn’t quite get them into watching or playing, try showing them the Cinematic Playthrough series. I’ve designed it to be enjoyable for newcomers by streamlining the story and snipping the fat, as well as to fans of the game by presenting things they’ve already seen from angles they’ve never seen before. To current viewers, your investment and continued interest in the series has been incredibly motivating, and your comments are fantastic reminders of why I’m making this series. Thank you all.

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I’d like to thank Grant for his time and effort in creating this project and answering our questions. If you’d like to reach out to Grant or view his material, you can do so through his Twitter or YouTube channel.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @APGNation.

The screenshots in this article were provided by Grant Voegtle.

About The Author
Garrett Bridges