Final Fantasy VII Remake: Lighting Designer Hiroyasu Shoji Analyses Shinra Headquarters, Figures Out The Whole Game
World-renowned lighting designer Hiroyasu Shoji explained the good and the bad of the Shinra HQ interior design in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Final Fantasy and Hiroyasu Shoji, two names I never expected to see together. It’s been four months since Final Fantasy VII Remake launched on PS4 now. Unless you’re an extremely busy person, you’ve probably finished the game now. I’m sure even the most implicated health workers or anti-racism activists, quite busy for obvious reasons for a few months now, must have at least tried the game by now. Most of them are definitely gamers and into Japanese games, seeing these are full of political themes developing your empathy and critical thinking of society.
As you played FF7R, you might have been in awe with some of the interior design when exploring buildings. The Shinra Headquarters in particular. You might have wondered what an actual specialist in this field would think about it. Well, now you can get an idea of it. (And a full analysis assuming you understand Japanese).
Japanese news site Livedoor recently published a video featuring internationally popular Japanese Lighting Designer Hiroyasu Shoji, analyzing Final Fantasy VII Remake. The video, for around 20 minutes, goes through some of the biggest environments in Shinra HQ, starting from the underground parking lot.
Overall, Hiroyasu Shoji mentioned that the lighting is done realistically well, and that the designers at Square Enix did their homework.
Elevators and Automatic Doors
One thing Hiroyasu Shoji pointed out multiple times are Welcome Mats. These are floor oriented lighting which gives off a friendly atmosphere, placed in front of elevators and automatic doors. They’re everywhere in places such as shopping malls or hotels IRL. He most notably explained it’s also in order to make the female customers’ jewelry sparkle.
He also pointed out the light which goes all the way of the elevator is a recent thing you see everywhere. “Recent” as in in the last ten years, and it wasn’t the case when he was younger. Basically, Hiroyasu Shoji explained Square Enix properly made 2010s stylized elevators for the Shinra HQ in Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Shell-like Lighting, Misalignment
Hiroyasu Shoji didn’t only have words of praise though, and mentioned this part in particular, seen in the screenshot above, was done sloppily. The shell shaped like lighting there near the ceiling, it’s considered lame. He also mentioned that by taking a look at the marks pointing to the center of each concrete block of the wall, you can see that the blocks are misaligned with the lights. He added that in a sense this could be considered “2020-like” though, as nowadays making everything look clean and fitting in perfectly is considered old-school.
Shinra-Developed Vehicles Expo
Another segment focuses on the vehicles expo floor. In a nutshell, Hiroyasu Shoji explained that to make vehicles look cool, you need to avoid lighting them directly, but reflect a lot of light, and Final Fantasy VII Remake doesn’t follow that rule well. All the cars have light directly shining on them.
Midgar at Night
Another segment has a view of Midgar at night. Hiroyasu Shoji explained Midgar in Final Fantasy VII Remake looks more like Tokyo than New York, because there are a lot of white and green-like lights, and few orange-like lights. Most highly developed cities nowadays are fully switching to LED, which increases the amount of white light. In the past, we mainly used natrium lamp, which looks orange instead.
Shoji explained the cheapest way to illuminate a city as much as possible these days are white LED. He added Tokyo uses a lot because Japan used lights such as mercury lamps a lot in the past, and always had a preference for white looking lighting rather than natrium lamps. It’s also because white makes the atmosphere look less hot during summer nights. I’m also guessing Tokyo has more LED because it has a much higher building turnover rate than New York.
Hiroyasu Shoji: Final Fantasy VII Remake Barely Has Any Lights Coming From Above
One of the most interesting points Hiroyasu Shoji brought up is the overall abundant use of light from the floor instead of light from the ceiling emulating the sun. He explained why that’s important using the classic SF movie 2001: A Space Odyseey as a reference. During the scenes in the space station, there’s light coming from the side, and when they get to Mars, there’s light coming from bottom. It’s like it’s symbolizing they’re getting further from earth, and further from our “normal” relationship with sunlight.
Hiroyasu Shoji explained Shinra HQ in Final Fantasy VII Remake using light coming from the floor always give us this feeling that Shinra is doing something unnatural and should be stopped. This was both hilarious and amazing to see because Hiroyasu Shoji pretty much managed to guess everything Final Fantasy VII is about only from the lighting. When the Livedoor News journalists pointed that out, he explained he never played the Remake nor the original game.
Shoji added you can also feel this with how there are few shadows reflected on the floor, since there’s no light coming from above. No shadows diminishes the presence of living beings. Everything feels lifeless.
Lastly, he also praised the lighting in the room showing President Shinra’s statue.
Livedoor News: Hiroyasu Shoji Analyses Shinra HQ in Final Fantasy VII Remake
Livedoor News regularly does these kind of videos with highly popular AAA games. A similar one happened months ago with a Japanese castle architecture specialist analyzing the castles in Sekiro. I’d have written about it too if time permitted. I’m not paid enough for this.
Final Fantasy 7 Remake is currently a PlayStation exclusive, but will loose that exclusivity in April 2021. The game will most notably get a new cool guidebook in Japan later this year. You can read more on the game with our past coverage, most notably our review.