Back in May of this year, I was approached by none other than Jarrad Woods, AKA Farbs about making a trailer for a game he was working on… All of the previous videos I’d done were for the Winnitron 1000, and this would be the first video game trailer I’d been asked to make outside of that project, so I was pretty stoked!
Planning the Promo!
Farbs introduced me to the other members of the team, The Art Director Benjamin Lee, and the project lead, Jonathan Chey. We discusses some ideas on Skype over a short meeting, and eventually settled on the idea of making a parody of the old 80′s Dungeons and Dragon’s commercials. The idea was to not give too much away about the game, and have it act more as a teaser trailer, to try and drive traffic to http://cardhunter.com
We threw around the idea of maybe doing some stop motion animation with the game pieces, but this idea was throw out mainly to keep things relatively simple. Most of the previous videos I’d made were more VFX based, and a bit smaller scope. This video, though really light on the VFX side of things, was really heavy on the live action side. It had to hit just the right tone, ie. not being ridiculous, but at the same time being funny and entertaining.
After a bit of back and forth with Jonathan and the rest of the guys involved with the project, we decided to give it a shot, and see what happens!
Ben lee whipped up some amazing storyboards, which set the blueprint for the whole shoot. These storyboards were pretty crucial, and ended up helping a TON. I took these storyboards, and cut them into a rough animatic, where we laid down the voice over and some temporary music. This really helped everyone get a feel for what the final product would be like, and more importantly get a sense of timing for the promo.
The music was ripped from a youtube video and I did the horrible voice acting myself :). For the final product, we were able to get none other than the amazing Danny Baranowsky
to create the soundtrack. As for the voice over, with a bit of digging, I was able to track down the guy that did the voice over for the 80′s Super Meat Boy promo. The guy goes by the name of Wiggly, and he sent over a whole bunch of different takes to use for the announcer.
So, with these pieces in place, the next thing on the list was that we needed to make a physical copy of some of the game pieces and the game board for the shoot. Ben Lee took care of that on his end and shipped them to Winnipeg.
The Case of the Missing Package!
That lead to our first wrinkle in the project… After waiting about a week for the package, one of the two parcels showed up, but the other was nowhere to be found! Ben called ParcelForce in the UK, and asked if they could trace down the 2nd parcel. They had no record of it, and when I called FedEx in Winnipeg, they showed the received package being 1/2 but they claimed the 2nd package was never shipped! D’OH!
So, with the shoot date a few days away, we had to make the decision to postpone the shoot, and wait for Ben to make new game pieces and ship them to Winnipeg. What a pain the ass! Anyways, a few days more go by, and after we’ve rescheduled everything, the 2nd package FINALLY shows up on my doorstep! When it arrived, it was pretty clear what had happened. The first package was shipped FedEx, and the 2nd was sent via Canada Post!! I guess it was cheaper for ParcelForce in the UK to ship them via different shipping methods to save a few bucks. What a clusterfuck. In any case, I was relieved that Ben didn’t have to make new pieces, and that everything arrived safely.
Our shoot date was set, and now all I had to do was make a quick shot list (basically put all the shot in the shooting order) and we’d be all set.
Shooting the Promo!
Earlier in May, Marlon Weibe and I scouted out this cool place in the Exchange District in Winnipeg called Absurd machine. They had a really awesome looking room with high ceilings and access to all the lighting equipment I’d need for the shoot. The other thing I needed was actors! All the people that have helped with the Winnitron 1000 videos were happy to help, so that was super awesome. They were gracious enough to go to Value Village and get some retro looking clothing so that was one other detail I didn’t have to worry about
The shoot went really well, and everyone performed super awesome under the hot light hovering a few inches from the tops of their heads Thanks again to Alec, Chrissy, Eileen, Marlon and Noel for helping out and making it so awesome
I shot the whole promo with the Panasonic GH2 and the Voigtlander f/0.95 lens, except for the opening and closing shot which were shot with the 14mm pancake lens. One thing I absolutely love about the GH2 is it has an teleconvert mode on it, which essentially doubles the focal length of any lens you have. What it does, is rather than use the whole sensor to take an image, it crops out a full 1920×1080 pixels from the center of the sensor. This essentially turns the 25mm (50mm on the GH2) lens I had on the camera into a 50mm and 100mm lens at the push of a button. It’s super slick. So to get the wide shots and closeups, I was able to use the same lens. The quality of the 1:1 crop from the center of the sensor is flawless as well. No other camera has this feature, and for filmmakers on a budget, it’s a great advantage of the GH2.
The blooper reel!
The Retro 80′s version!
One of the other ideas we had was once the promo was finished, we could solidify the ’80′s commercial feel’ by giving the promo the worn out VHS look. We eventually decided against using this version as the main release, since there’s a certain demographic that won’t even get it, having never seen VHS. God, that makes me feel old, LOL Anyways, I thought it looked kind of cool, and I love the way the audio gets distorted when the tracking is off on a VHS tape. So, even though we didn’t end up using it, I think it’s a fun little special version…
After all was said and done, I’m really happy with the way the promo turned out! I think it has just enough of a cheesy feel without going over the top. If you guys have any comments or questions about anything, let me know! Thanks!
UPDATE: Since release, this trailer has been covered on a tons of sites, including Gametrailers.com, sevelina.co.uk, mcvuk.com, Cheat masters, Dark Side of Gaming No High Scores, GameSpot.com, Gamasutra, Gamespy, Kotaku, Shack News, Joystiq, Rock Paper Shotgun, GamePro and a bunch of others