The End of 2013

It’s been a busy year!

My colleagues and I have setup and launched +Play, a gamification company with two major projects on from the get go: City+, a 3.0 georeal social platform for people, places, and things, and Little Elementals, an entertainment property for children with resilience teachings and a real world social and physical activity component.

I’ll post more over the next while to catch up on what’s been going on in 2013 and to keep up on the exciting things to come!

New Game Trailer: Introducing the Templar

I’ve been very sick lately – in a couple of bouts.

I got very ill a while ago and after coming out of it had a number of pressing deadlines to catch up on – including the trailer below for Titirangi’s Grinding Gear Games. I then got sick again and am just on the road to recovery now – hence the drop-off in online upkeep…

Anyway, here it is, the trailer introducing the new Templar class to Grinding’s Online Action RPG Path of Exile. We’re happy with it and the fan reaction on the forums seems to be pretty good so far too!

More news and views coming soon!

YouTube Preview Image

Abundance Mentality talk at MDS Part I

A little while back Frances Valintine, the CEO of Media Design School, asked me to speak at the Soul Food II evening which was ultimately held last night.

Soul Food evenings at Media Design School are social events featuring prominent speakers in the area of Maori and Pacific Design.

This event is an informal gathering of people interested in finding out more on up-and-coming contemporary designers, design influences and opportunities to bring Maori and Pacific art and design to a global audience. The Soul Food speakers for June are Nathan Suniula, Janet Lilo and Damien Caine.

I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted to thanks to urgent work at hand (which means I missed the valuable networking aspect – please contact me below if you were there and want to chat!) but it was easy to see the value of this excellent event and I had a great time there. Definitely planning to head along to the next one just to check things out if possible!

Amongst other things I showed our Danger Balls Trailer as an example of collaboration and the abundance mentality at work (more to come in Part II about the abundance mentality). This game was made with the support of Mukpuddy Animation (specifically Tim Evans for the art, Ryan Cooper for the voices, Alex for encouraging words : ) and Thinkt Studios (Damian and Josh for the sound fx)!:

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks also to Wojciech Kilar for the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula” and Ill Bill & Max Cavalera for War is my Destiny!

 

Editing a Trailer

I’ve spent the last couple of days in at Grinding Gear Games’ Titirangi office preparing a new trailer for their Online Action RPG, Path of Exile.

The process is always fun – shaping something engaging, informative (for eager fans of the game) and artistic from many disparate elements. We went through our voice actor session at Thinkt Studios on Tuesday and captured a lot of good stuff. Our actor, Kevin Harty, had a healthy scottish brogue and brought an enthusiasm and attitude that made the session nice and easy!

I’m going in tomorrow to finalise the edit and then I have time to move on to the polish – finer visual flourishes, audio mixdown, etc.

The picture on the right is from a desk in at Grinding Gear Games – I took a photo because I love the skill of sculpture and 3D games bring artists who think and design in 3D space. These two ‘sculpts’ are examples of fine visual design in two popular game franchises of recent times (Assassin’s Creed, Killzone).

l’ll post an embedded version of the final trailer once it’s online – for now, it’s back to finishing up some web work and pre-production planning!

Trailer Art

Zack Snyder makes great trailers.

They have narrative structure, drama and dynamics, and their soundtrack is always a key part of the whole experience.

I’m working on a horror trailer at the moment so I figured it’d be good to watch some classic trailers and Zack’s surprisingly good remake of Dawn of the Dead has a trailer that I think is a perfect example of the form.

YouTube Preview Image

Cinematic Perfection: Cidade De Deus

Cidade de Deus, or City of God, is one of my favourite movies.

As the uploader states in the description for this trailer, the Portugese trailer is more effective than the english one for capturing the visual style and often frenetic pace of the movie.

I found the cinematography flawless and interesting at the right points; the acting seemed natural and the casting was dead on – apparently the main villain of the film was not an actor; he’d just turned up at the audition with his friend when the casting director spotted him. Autobiographical material can be really boring if you’re not interested in the period or setting but thanks to a dynamic and surprising narrative (there’s a flashback within a flashback, just for starters) I really got the impression that anyone could enjoy this movie because of the contemporary and unique way in which it is presented.

One of my most highly recommended movies – the Director shows a deft hand with exceptionally well-written material that is shot beautifully, acted exceptionally and edited masterfully into an enduring piece of pure quality cinema!

YouTube Preview Image

 

Catchup Post

Wow it’s been a week since I last posted…

I’ve been busy with planning a new music video amongst other things. This music video project has an interesting angle that convinced me to take it on; I’ve had a number of meetings from development to pre-production with the Producer, Richard Glover, and I’m pretty excited about the potential for it. If things go well we’ll be filming the biggest crowd for a hip hop video that I’ve had a chance to be involved in so that should be a spot of fun… We’re looking at shooting the video in early July with final release in early August.

I’ve also been working on the constitution for the next iteration of the PlayMaker Game Developers Association. We’re looking to establish the Association and take things to the next level with the support of other members of the wider community. We’re very lucky that David McLaughlin has provided great legal advice, support and input from day one and at this week’s Auckland Game Works Meetup he’ll be speaking and answering any issues raised by the community as we nail down the final details around the structure of the Association. There’s some more exciting news about this but I can’t say much til it happens!

I collaborated with Director Ashley Pitman on the last video I edited for The Hypnotics and after our final edit session we stayed up into the wee hours watching our favourite music videos and comparing notes. Ashley’s got a great eye and has been Facebooking me a bunch of video links that I aim to post over the next while with some thoughts. For now, I found this video and shared it with Ashley recently – it was shot on a 7D, a great little camera, and we both loved the ‘story’ and rich green colour.

 

 

8 bit Music Goodness

I’ll be starting on another game trailer project in June but for now I’m moving on to a couple of game music projects.

Any music can be used for games nowadays – if it suits – but one type of music that will always be associated with videogames is chip music – to use a broad definition: music created using sound chips on game console hardware. I’m keen to create music for the first game project using PXTone, the tracker (i.e. chip music creator) made by Cave Story‘s Daisuke Amaya; I’ll be taking a more traditional approach with the other project (more on that later).

Chip music has its superstars – especially from the C64 era – and some tunes stick in my head to this day. Ben Daglish and Rob Hubbard are two such personalities – Ben created one of my favourite soundtracks from the 8bit era: Last Ninja. Rob was responsible for some stonkin’ great tunes like the Commando theme.

Just recently I came across a morsel of greatness – Christopher Voss has created an 8 bit version of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind, combining two great artforms in one. Now I’m more than ready to dive into some 8bit music creation for Tom Mulgrew‘s Thunderbolt!

YouTube Preview Image

Hypnotic R&B Vibes

We’ve finished the video for “Amour”, a song by South Auckland R&B group, The Hypnotics.

My role was offline edit and post production grading. It was an enjoyable experience – especially getting to know a bit more about the group and their support network, which included long-time friends and members of the crew. Noma and Rita (the admin team for The Hypnotics and for Anonymouz Workz, the production company for producer / musician Anonymouz) threw a video launch party in Onehunga on Wednesday night where singer Jess put on some tasty nibbles and we got to see the video on a large projector screen in all its finished glory. Noma, Rita and The Hypnotics in general like to keep a real family vibe to the proceedings which makes a nice change from some industry events and ensures a relaxing atmosphere.

One minor annoyance about the night was a purely technical one – and whilst not my fault, still something to do with me. The problem was the occasional stutter in the playback of the video – I took my laptop along (Sony Vaio) to play the vid in HD through the Infocus x1 projector (the laptop the team planned to use wasn’t up to the HD playback). I tested the playback before I left home and it was smooth as silk. However, plugging into the projector saw the resolution of my screen pushed down from 1600×900 to something sad like 1024×768; my guess is that the slight lag about 2/3rds of the way into the video was caused by the laptop having to ‘scale’ the video down to the res the projector was putting out. At least the audio sync caught up in short order…

The edit itself went well all up – the most productive part was when Anonymouz, Jess and Ashley (Pitman – co-director and writer) sat in on the final draft for 6 hours and we spat out the finished edit together (with a few pizzas in the mix). I know some directors/editors create the final video without any input from the artists and present it to them as a completed product but I really enjoy the process of involving the artist, when they want to be involved, and getting their insight on what works for them and what doesn’t. I find I learn a lot in the process too and each time I’ve taken something significant away that’s cropped up in how I treat the next video I work on.

Follow The Hypnotics on Facebook and check out Anonymouz, producer wunderkind at www.anonymouz.co.nz

YouTube Preview Image