Making the Hunger Games: Girl on Fire Trailer!

Hunger Games iOS Logo“Hey dude! whats your schedule like?” was the subject-line of the email that I recieved from Adam Saltsman back in late January… The first thing that ran through my head was “Busy as hell!” but I can’t say no when Adam approaches me with a cool opportunity for a game trailer. :)

So, Adam was working on a small teaser game for the movie Hunger Games, which would be released right before the movie came out, and he needed a trailer or two to help promote it. The problem was, that the game was still being built, and when we started, it was probably about 20% complete at this point.

Hunger Games iOS Trailer After Effects Screenshot

Hunger Games iOS Trailer After Effects Screenshot

What we decided to do is this: We’ll make the teaser trailer completely in After Effects, using only the game’s art assets, and use in game footage for the 2nd trailer, which is what’s used in the final version above, except for the opening forest shot, the town shot, and the end card.

The one difference with this game vs. the others that I’ve worked with so far, is that there was no OS X or Windows build of the game to capture the footage from. Since it’s an iOS game, there’s the option to run the game in the simulator in OSX, but in this case, the game runs so slow that way, that we couldn’t capture footage in real time.

So the option is then to capture the footage through HDMI out into a capture card/box. Problem is, when we started this project, I didn’t have that kind of hardware. So, the search for options begun…

The day before I left for GDC, I received my Black Magic Intensity Extreme capture box, which captures uncompressed HDMI through Thunderbolt right into my Macbook Air. It works REALLY well, and with an iPad 2/3 or iPhone 4s, you can capture 720p uncompressed video right off the device. It’s pretty slick. There will be a full review of this unit in the next few weeks :)

Hunger Games iOS Trailer After Effects Screenshot

Hunger Games iOS Trailer After Effects Screenshot

One of the my favouite parts of putting this trailer together was assembling the “Town” and “Forrest” scenes in After Effects from the in-game assets. I wanted to have some establishing shots of both of the environments in the trailer, but there wasn’t anything like that that I could capture from the game footage. So, I had to make it from scratch, using the assets for the game.

I took the different elements, and layered them in 3D space, added in some stock smoke elements and lens flares to give some atmosphere, added a bit of a camera move, and that was that :) It actually took quite a while to get them looking right, but I really love how the town image turned out!

One of the cooler parts of making this trailer was trying to find a way to make fire that looked like pixel art! I wasn’t really sure where to start, but it turned out to be a simple enough effect. I found some fire presets on and used that as the base for the fire. It was tweaked pretty heavily, and I had two copies of Particular on top of each other to give the fire a little more internal volume.
Hunger Games Pixel Fire

After getting the speed and look of the fire looking pretty good, I colour corrected it with Colourama, then applied the old Mosaic plugin with the “Sharp colours” checkbox enabled. Amazingly, it worked pretty well. I was kind of shocked :) I really really wish that someone would develop a better version of the Mosaic plugin. It’s so old and so limited, I think there’s tons of cool stuff that you could do with a few more options. Like feeding a depth map into the plugin to control the size/intensity of the effect. I’ve got a bunch of ideas, but I need a programmer to help a brother out! ;)

Anyways, I just wanted to thank Adam again and David Hayes at Lionsgate for getting me involved with the project, it was super fun :)

Coverage on IGN-iPhone, IGN-Gaming, Kotaku (teaser Trailer), Kotaku (release trailer) Joystiq Official Hunger Games Youtube Channel



  1. I am so impressed with your creativity.I am interested in Animation and graphics design.I am
    looking for universities who can provide me B sc degree.I would prefer 2D and 3D animation.Do you have any knowledge of any good university?

    Warm regards

    • kgartner says:

      Don’t go to university or a college to learn this stuff. Take online courses, create your own projects, get an entry level job, and learn from your peers.