Anatomy of the Announce Trailer
Hello everyone, we've talked in previous blog-posts about some aspects (defining the vision and arriving at the art style) that were important for us when creating the Röki announce trailer. Today, I'm going to be talking about the cinematic direction of the trailer itself and the different ingredients and tricks we've used to give it MAXIMUM IMPACT...ahem.
Firstly, duration. We knew we wanted to make the trailer short and snappy and not outstay it's welcome. I'm not sure who said 'be brief, be brilliant, and be gone' (I'll be honest, I googled to see who it was and it wasn't quickly apparent so I gave up, life is too short) but it definitely rings true for what we were trying to achieve. We knew we wanted to create more than a brief 'blink and you'll miss it' teaser trailer, but we didn't want to show too much of the world at this point, instead just enough to pique interest and then vanish into the night.
We've made a fair few trailers over the years and there is one thing you should do as soon as possible to make your life a great deal easier...Pick...The…Music. It'll give you something to edit to and it's structure will probably heavily influence the composition of your trailer, so postponing this decision until later will create headaches. You can try a bunch out (we sure did), but then pick one and crack on.
Our announce trailer effectively only has two shots. The majority of it is the sideways tracking shot that follows Tove as she ventures deeper and deeper into the wilderness. It's a cool shot and is really the backbone of the trailer and one the first things we mocked up to prove out. I say it's one shot, but actually we use the foreground scenery to essentially wipe from location to location. We travel from the outskirts of Tove's village through forests, caves, mountains and more. Showing the range and depth of locations we plan for the game was important, and this was a very effective way to deliver that in a concise and short trailer (which we knew we wanted from the first section, PAY ATTENTION BOND). Changing locations in this way also allowed us to jump in time over the wipes, giving the impression of Tove's long journey, over a short sequence.
This long tracking shot is also noteworthy as it actually slowly and subtly accelerates throughout the trailer. This gently heightens tension, a tightening of the dramatic screws as we reach the climax.
At the end of this sequence we slowly descend you into darkness and hold you there. 'What is happening?' I hear you scream (good, that's the correct response, well done!). Having experienced the long building first shot we want to take some time in darkness, allow the trailer to breathe and your mind to race before we snap back in to the final shot.
When we jolt you back into the action we've cut much closer to Tove. It's a pretty big visual change, she's been quite small in frame for most of the trailer. This was important in a number of ways; Firstly, from a dramatic point of view it steps up the intensity, you can see the white of her eyes and it feels quite claustrophobic after the prolonged first shot (which were all quite wide). Secondly, it allowed us to get up close and showcase Tove and Röki. Tove is the main playable character in the game, you'll be spending a lot of time with her so we wanted to have the chance to show some of her personality.
Again the tension builds (aided by the music) with a slow camera move into the scene as we see Röki slowly unfold behind an unsuspecting Tove. The viewer can see what's happening but Tove is oblivious until the last moment. This is a shot designed to allow the viewer to connect with Tove, willing her to turn around.
We didn't want to show too much of Röki but his intertwined relationship with Tove is central to the game so it was important he made an impact. We showed a few people the trailer on my phone at EGX Rezzed (at this point we were just adding the finishing touches) to gauge their response. The slow emergence of Röki has some amazing reactions, they've probably merged a little in my mind but I remember one clearly and it seems like a good thing to end on.
“Oh my god what the **** was that”
Until next time, thanks for reading,
Alex & Tom