The first time I saw Gasketball was when Mike Boxleiter of MikenGreg showed me the work in progress build at GDC 2012. I loved the look and feel of the game, and really wanted to find a way to put together a trailer for it. The game felt like it was just ripe for a cool live action trailer with people playing basketball making all sorts of crazy shots with the tools from the game. A few months down the line as they were getting closer to release, we decided to give it a shot and see what happens…
The first thing I like to do when working on a new trailer is do some research and see what sort of other commericals and ads people have made over the years. One of the main influences for the trailer is the 80′s commercial for Electronic Hot Shots Basketball. I loved the pacing and feel of this ad, and some of the lines are pulled directly from this commercial.
The other influence was the old McDonalds HORSE commercials with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. I felt like there was something cool in each of these, so the trailer ended up being kind of a combination of both, the live action portion kind of mimicking the McDonalds commercial and the 2nd half mirroring the Hot Shots Basketball ad.
Creating the Animatic
Greg and I hashed out a rough script for the trailer, and I started looking for locations to shoot it. Luckily for me, there was a brand new basketball court about 2 minutes away from my house, so we decided to use that as the location. There was also a smaller more ghetto court close by, but we thought that the esthetic of the newer court matched the game a bit better.
Once we found that spot, I did a few quick test shots and threw together a quick animatic of the trailer.
The script went through MANY revisions at this point, to try and distill it down to the bare minimum needed to get across what the game is about. Since Gasketball has so many different modes to it, and it’s really hard to pigeon hole into a specific genre, it was a really tough exercise. We also decided to cut the 2nd half of the live action portion of the trailer, since it felt like it dragged down the pacing of the whole thing. I think the trailer is much tighter without that chunk in it, despite how cool it would have looked to see the ball flying through the air slamming off of all the different pieces.
Shooting the trailer
Once again, we enlisted the help of Indie game trailer star Marlon Wiebe and this time, we brought along his fiancee! My dad helped on set by being a ball retriever and Alec Holowka was kind enough to hold a bounce card to help with the lighting. Here’s some shots he took while we were shooting and a little behind the scenes video shot by my dad:
The shoot was pretty straight forward, but we all realized pretty quick that we all suck at basketball I don’t know how many takes it took to get the ball in the hoop, but oh man, none of us are getting into the NBA any time soon, haha.
Compositing the Visual Effects shots
Aside from hammering away and finessing the script, the most time consuming part of assembling this trailer had to be the 3 visual effects shots. I really wanted to add some depth to the robot characters, rather than just having them be flat sprites composited into the live action footage, like I’d done previously in the Canabalt and Serious Sam trailers. I was hoping to be able to use Element 3D for this, but my video card isn’t supported by that plugin.
In the end, I turned to this cool script called 3D Extrude to add the depth to the sprites. It actually works out surprisingly well, considering that it’s just a bunch of stacked 3D layers in z-space. I still had to finesse it quite a bit with colour correction and grading to make it sit in the plate, but I think it turned out pretty good!
This was also by far the most complicated After Effects project I’ve worked with to date. The VFX shots would have been better handled in a program like Nuke or Fusion, but I decided to keep it all in AE just to make my life easier. The final render times clocked in around 4h on my Macbook Air. It might be time for a machine upgrade, but we’ll see how much longer I can hold out using this little powerhouse.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to ask! Thanks!