Making the Nidhogg Trailer

Earlier this year, myself and the rest of the Winnitron 1000 crew took a trip to the annual Game Developer’s Conference in Sanfrancisco. It was a pretty awesome trip, filled with good times, random encounters, and meeting a ton of really awesome people. One of the guys I met, literally in the last few minutes of GDC, was Mark Essen, the creator of an awesome game called Nidhogg. Since first seeing this game earlier this year, I was just itching to give it a try! But every time I went by the Nidhogg booth, it was just being SWARMED with people! The game looked awesome, and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Winnitron.

So, a few weeks go by, and a few emails back and forth with Mark, and it’s a go. Mark sent us a special Winnitron build of Nidhogg (with a few options removed to make the game more arcade friendly). All we needed to do now was make a new trailer to promote it!

Since we had some time, we decided that we would launch the game in time for Data Dance Level 3: Console Wars, which unfortunately, will likely be the last chip-tune show in Winnipeg (at least for a while). Skot Deeming, the organizer of Data Dance is moving to Toronto to work on his thesis at Ryerson University! I’ll miss him a ton, but wish him all the best!

Winnitron Nidhogg Trailer Shot List Page 1 on Twitpic

All we needed was a cool idea to get us going… Alec was talking about having the characters in the game fighting eachother, and glitching out into their pixelated bodies. We had some crazy ideas about having Jack, the owner of the LoPub be in the trailer, and hand marlon a Morph suit, so he could look like one of the characters in the game… Or even having some hands come out from the Winnitron screen, and giving Marlon the sword from the game.

I really liked the idea of shooting this one outdoors, and I thought about getting in touch with some professional fencers to star in the video. I thought the St. Boniface Cathedral would be a cool location, that kind of mirrors the gothic feeling from the game. So, Marlon, Alec and I scouted out the location the day before and came up with a rough plan: We would make this a continuation from the last trailer, and pick up with the two Marlon’s playing Super Crate Box Versus on the Winnitron 1000, and teleport them to the cathedral! Later that night I whipped up a shot list and hoped that everything I needed was on that list…

We started off shooting in the LoPub and knocked off some of the teleportation shots right away. Here’s some shots and video of us shooting inside of the LoPub…

The one thing we can’t really control (YET!) is mother nature! I knew the forecast was for rain, but it seemed to pour in the morning, and clear up in the early afternoon. We were actually pretty lucky. As we got to the church, we could see the impeding storm clouds of doom approaching, so we decided to shoot as much of the exterior stuff as we could, then go into the interior arch of the church to shoot the rest. Here’s some picts and some video of us shooting some of this stuff. In the last video you can see us all huddled in this thin area of the church. It was pouring rain all around us, but we were able to stay relatively dry…

Shooting at Lo Pub for a new #WINNITRON trailer  on Twitpic Faking 2 Marlons with Tom as a stand-in:  on Twitpic Some BTS fun from the #WINNITRON trailer being released this ... on Twitpic Some BTS fun from the #WINNITRON trailer being released this ... on Twitpic Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Finally, after capturing all of this material, it was time to turn it into something. I’m always really nervous when starting out another project like this. Did I get all of the shots we’ll need? Do they look ok? Did anything get corrupted on the camera? Even if everything went ok, will this turn out to be a total piece of garbage or not? I like to wait a day or two before looking at the footage, just to make sure i’m looking at it with a clean slate.

This is the 2nd project i’ve shot with my new Panasonic GH2. I finished the first one a few weeks ago, but I haven’t posted it just yet. It’s another Winnitron trailer to promote all of the new machines that have been created over the last few months. But we’re just waiting for one or two more machines to be wrapped up before we release that one. Hopefully it’ll come out soon!

I worked out most of the workflow issues on my last project, and I’ll go into more depth into it there. But basically, the way I’ve decided to work with this footage is to edit the raw mkv files inside of Adobe Premiere. I can play back the 1080p movies in real time there, so it makes getting the rough edit down that much faster. Once i’ve got pretty much everything locked, i’ll export the project into After Effects, and that’s where all of the dirty work gets done.

I knew this project would have a lot of rotoscoping involved, so I was guessing that i’d have to do a lot of shots in Fusion. But after putting everything together, it looks like we could accomplish some of the “double marlon” shots with relatively simple split screens. In the end, only one shot was run through Fusion, and the rest of the trailer was done entirely in After Effects CS5.

There’s a couple of shots i’m really happy with, especially the one below. In the end sequence, both Marlon’s de-pixelize, then the help eachother up. Marlon doesn’t have a twin brother, so we had to do this shot as a split screen, then combine the two takes together. The problem was, when we shot it, they weren’t standing close enough together, so I had to move one of the marlon’s over so his hand looked like it was closer to the other guy. I didn’t want to roto out the whole body or anything, so I shifted the entire plate over, and only had to do a few frames of roto on his hand where the two plates intersected. Along with the colour grading, I think the shot turned out pretty great. Here’s a quick animated breakdown below:

Nidhogg Comp and Colour Breakdown

Nidhogg Colour Correction Breakdown

Overall, the rest of the trailer went pretty smoothly. It was just a matter of getting through the sheer number of VFX shots. This trailer has a total of 24 VFX shots, compared to the Super Crate Box trailer, which only had 14 (in some cases) much simpler shots. We were originally hoping that when the characters touched the swords, that they would start to pixelize in some cool way, but after playing around with trying to make an effect for that, I didn’t think I could pull anything off that looked decent in the amount of time that I had. I think the simple glow works, and gets across the idea that they’re kind of turning into the characters from the game.

In any case, we had a really fun time putting this trailer together, and I’m looking forward to the next one! Here’s a cool Lomo 360 Panorama shot of the Bit Collective crew after an afternoon of shooting at the St. Boniface Cathedral.

BitCollective at St. Boniface Cathedral

Here’s a short timelapse of me working on the trailer for a day:

If you guys have any comments or questions about anything, please feel free to ask!




  1. Jason Cobill says:

    Awesome overview, Kert! You’ve put together another winner. :)
    So great to get a bit of behind-the-scenes peeking in!

  2. lennard says:

    Impressive video, I enjoyed the behind the scenes web-page.