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!

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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!

Editing a music video – the balancing act

One of the interesting things about editing a music video, I find, is that there’s a real balancing act to manage the expectations of the artist(s) against those of the technical crew. This is even more apparent when working on relatively low budget productions.

The artist, of course, wants to look their best – and ideally that’s everyone’s goal for the video, as a music video’s primary purpose is to promote the artist and their music. The technical crew want their work to look the best – the shots they’ve taken, the way they’ve lit the set and every aspect of production that showcases their abilities. Their needs are also important as they are usually (at least in New Zealand) contributing their time and effort for a greatly reduced rate based on the understanding that they will use the resultant product as a calling card for their services.

The DP (Director of Photography) wants you, as an editor, to use only the shots with the best photography – the best lighting on the subject, the most interesting angle and ‘how’d they do that’ camera move. The artist wants only the shots that show their good side; those that catch their most natural moments of showmanship, not the ones where they’ve pulled a strange look to camera or performed an awkward move during the discomfort of trying to get “in the moment” at a public location with a crowded set and a tinny ghetto blaster providing playback(!). These issues may well be mitigated by larger budgets but with the scope of productions in New Zealand we are forced to deal with them on a regular basis.

The obvious issue that arises is when the needs of the two parties clash – the perfect shot that shows the DPs best-lit work contains a less-than-flattering angle of the artist, or the artist’s most natural looking moment of rock-star-cool happens as they pull back from their mark and go slightly soft focus… And when you’ve had to cram a three day shoot into one day there aren’t a lot of options.

Speaking of conflict between actor and crew, here’s the famous Klaus Kinski in one his many tirades at a crew member. The balancing act of managing volatile temperaments under pressure conditions is a whooole other post for another time…

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There’s no easy answer for this. My personal choice 95% of the time is to go with the best look for the artist over any technical issues – but I’ve also made the call at the 11th hour to completely reedit a significant chunk of a video because the DP was really unhappy with the shots used. In that case, the artist had made his own stipulations around any changes made to the cut he’d seen (i.e. we weren’t allowed to make any!) but thankfully, when it came down to it, he didn’t mind – I think mostly because he was unavailable at the time we had to make the edit and he only saw it much later so time had probably dulled his memory somewhat. I made the choice to edit, even so late in the piece, because my relationship with the DP was important to me and the shots used were important to him.

I don’t know if anyone else outside of NZ faces these issues but I know it’s something you have to get used to, working here. It keeps the tension high and makes for a significant personal win when everyone is pleased with the results! (fingers crossed for the current project!)

The Hunt for Trailer Art

I’ve been scouring the web trying to find any “best of” movie trailer sites – but I’m kinda after sites that show trailers that have been crafted with love and skill, treating the discipline like the artform it is. Haven’t had any luck so I might have to put together a list myself… If anybody reads this and has any idea of a trailer that showed a real craftsmanship in its construction please let me know (movies or games). As an example, I think Snyder’s 300 trailer put Trent Reznor’s “Just Like You Imagined” to perfect use.

Here’s a great looking game coming soon from Ubisoft – they’ve put the classic trailer soundfx to good use and I found the zooms (which were surely done in post…) to be an interesting touch!

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Producer Showreel

Towards the end of last year I put together a showreel for South Auckland Producer Anonymouz.

As you can see in the showreel, Anonymouz is a very talented musician and Producer with an impressive range of skills and depth of experience at his disposal. Putting together the reel was a really interesting experience, not least because I got to learn a lot more about Anonymouz – I thought he was talented based on the little I knew¬†before I started the work…

I hope to get the chance to direct a music video for him in the future – fingers crossed!

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Editing another game trailer

I’m currently working on the next trailer for Path of Exile, the Online Action RPG by Auckland’s Grinding Gear Games.

I love the process of editing a trailer. You get to put together a tight little package of exciting content to convey a quick, simple message and generate questions and interest in the viewer’s mind.

I’m aiming to have the draft put together by tonight, ready for tomorrow where I’ll put in a full day onsite at Grinding Gear’s Titirangi office polishing and tweaking.

The first part of the process involves a lot of listening to the music tracks available to use. The very talented Mr. Adgio Hutchings of Texas has composed some wonderfully anthemic and epic tracks for Path of Exile so I’m not starved for choice. The trick is to find the best piece for the relevant section of the trailer and to be able to segue into the next piece in a way that makes sense logically, musically and emotionally.

The guys at GGG are after a tense, horror theme for the first section of the trailer so I’m looking for pieces that generate tension and grate ever so slightly on the hackles… (can one’s hackles even BE grated…?)

It’s great fun! More to come…

What’s bin going on…

I’m not even going to acknowledge the amount of time that’s passed since my last post lol. That seems to be a common theme on the various blogs I have to update these days… :P

But I spose it’s good because it means that I’m busy xD. At the beginning of last month we (Pixelati) entered our first game into the Independent Games Festival – Danger Balls.

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That was a great milestone to reach (for us) and we were stoked to find ourselves in DIYGamer’s Top 10 Break Out Indie Games of 2010 alongside awesome work like Shank and popular titles like Super Meatboy.

I’ve also kept up my work as a videographer for Illegal Musik and DJCXL – I shot and edited this video, recently, of DJCXL putting together a set for a Hip Hop versus Drum & Bass soundclash. It was a great performance to see and I think we made a pretty interesting little clip about it.

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I’m really looking forward to my next major video project which is the music video for CXL’s first single…

I’ve also been keeping up with the launch of the Independent Game Developers Association of New Zealand – IGDANZ, also known as PlayMaker. You can check out the site here – we’ve just upgraded it (we’re using Drupal now).

Anyway, I’ll be floating around and keeping this a little more up-to-date going forward.

Peace!