Making the Super Crate Box Versus Trailer!

Another Winnitron 1000 Exclusive means another fun trailer! This time around, the wonderful team at Vlambeer created a custom 2-Player version of their hit indie game Super Crate Box. The gameplay in the new version is essentially the same, except both players now race to be the first to collect 25 boxes. It’s pretty intense, and super fun with 2 players at the controls of the Winnitron :)

The idea for this trailer came about pretty quickly, once again from the mind of Marlon Weibe. Marlon came up with the idea for the Canabalt: 2-Player trailer late last year as well. I have to admit, when I first read the concept, I was pretty apprehensive about shooting it for a few reasons. First of all, I had never really done a live action shoot like this before, and secondly, the location we were going to shoot in is very dark. We wanted to shoot the trailer in Lo Pub, so we could showcase where the Winnitron 1000 actually lives. The problem is, is that it’s called Lo Pub for a reason :) It’s bloody dark in there.

So, to get around this problem, we decided to shoot in the mid afternoon when the most light would be pouring in through the windows. We were also lent a wonderful LED panel courtesy of James Swirsky of Blink Works and the creators of Indie Game the Movie. James is a top notch dude!

Super Crate Box Trailer Adobe After Effects Screenshot

So we had enough light, and a plan. I was still a bit concerned because my Panasonic GF1 doesn’t produce the best quality footage in low light situations. I was hoping we could get away with it, and in the end, it wasn’t too bad. I was hoping my new GH2 wold be in to shoot this trailer, but alas, it’s still back-ordered.

Originally when we set out to shoot this trailer, we were under the assumption that the version of Super Crate Box for the Winnitron was going to be basically the same as the version that you can download. The night before the shoot, we received a message that the game was actually a Versus style game! This changed things quite a bit, so we had to rethink the last half of the live action sequence. A little bit of skype chatter later that night, and we had a rough plan on how to alter the trailer to work with this updated concept. Rather than herding the characters from the game into the Winnitron 1000, we would have a clone of our character both running towards the box, and cut to gameplay. All things considered, I think it turned out pretty good!

We shot the next morning for a few hours, and it went off pretty much without a hitch. Here’s a quick timelapse of Alec, Tom, Marlon and myself shooting the trailer.

I didn’t have a chance to look at the footage for a few days, and I was a little apprehensive about how it would all come together. I started hammering away on it Saturday morning, and worked on it for about 5 days in total. Things started coming together very slowly, but we were making good progress over the 5 days.

I used a lot of the same techniques that I used in the Canabalt 2-Player trailer. All of the 2D sprites were 2D tracked into the footage using After Effects. I was able to pull off every shot this way, except for one… The shot where Marlon reaches down to the crate and the gun pops into his hand. This shot needed a 3D track, so I had to jump into the world of PFMatchIT.

PFMatchIT Screenshot

I haven’t ever tried to really use this piece of software on a shot before, so it took a bit longer than I would have hoped. It took me about 6 hours to get a somewhat solid track of that shot (sadly that section is missing from the timelapse below). I was really frustrated by the end and almost gave up on trying to solve the shot. I blame it on my lack of experience with the software, and 3D tracking software in general. In the end, the camera solve I got was totally crap, but I manged to manually smooth out 80% of the keyframes to make the camera usable. It wasn’t pretty (as you can see by the amount of tools and tries it took in the screenshot) but it worked more or less in the shot, so that’s all that really matters.

The last big piece of the puzzle was a last minute shot addition while we were shooting. I think Alec or Marlon came up with the idea of having both “Marlons” play the Winnitron together at the end of the trailer. I loved the idea. The setup was simple enough. Lock down the camera on a tripod, and have them each perform the action pretending the other guy was there. It took a few takes, and Alec acted as a stand-in so Marlon could try and get his eye-line right. It worked out pretty well. The eye-lines are a little off, and the acting isn’t timed perfectly, but it does the job! In order to pull this off, it required a significant amount of rotoscoping to place the yellow Marlon in front of the blue Marlon. It took about 5-6 hours ish of intense roto to pull it off. To do the roto, I used Eyeon Fusion, rather than Adobe After Effects. Fusion’s toolset for doing things like complex roto is much better suited to a node based compositing system like Fusion, rather than AE’s layer based approach. I tracked a few areas of Marlon body like his hands, the beer bottle, and his shirt, and attached my masks to that to make the job a little easier. For things like the hand, it had to be keyed every frame, but for things like the beer bottle and shirt, I could get away with keying it every 5 frames or so. A real time saver!

Eyeon Fusion Roto Screenshot

For final assembly and sound editing and colour grading, I used good ol’ Adobe After Effects. I really think it’s the best tool for this kind of job, and i’ve been using it for years, so it’s just the speediest tool for me to get the job done. The comp is pretty insane, since each shot is basically a precomp. There’s tons of elements going on in each shot, and a few have had some minor paintfixes to fix up a few little things here and there. Here’s a timelapse of me working on this trailer for 5 days. It’s pretty fun to watch.

All this being said, this trailer wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the help and support of a whole bunch of people. First off, we need to thank Rami and Jan from Vlambeer for creating Super Crate Box, and making the special Winnitron version of the game. All of the guys that helped make the Winnitron 1000, Alec Holowka, Tom Rab, Noel Berry, Marlon Weibe, and myself all helped in one way or another to make this happen. I’d also like to thank Jack Jonasson from Lo Pub for letting us shoot in his pub!

More info on the Winnitron 1000!
The group of guys behind this trailer and the Winnitron 1000:
The awesome dudes behind Super Crate Box!

I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, and I can’t wait until we start working on our next project! If you have any questions or comments about anything, please let me know!




  1. Rylaan says:

    Oh man! Why didn’t you tell me when you were shooting this!? I would have loved to help you out!

  2. George says:

    Fantastic stuff Kert, really glad to see you’re keeping busy. Doing it from concept to final rather than adjusting roto edges must be incredibly rewarding as well ;)

  3. Rami says:

    Amazing work, Kert. The trailer is really lovely, and we’re glad our game was treated so expertly. It’s amazing to see how much work this cost, but the final result is so worth it! Thanks again for a job super-well done :)