Someone’s Gotta Be There

Video Game Trailer Production

In late 2015 we were commissioned by Game UK to create a video game trailer for the release of Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy video game franchise ‘The Division’. Since the game is set in the US, and most of the marketing material was aimed at American audiences, we aimed to appeal to UK gamers and help increase games sales in this country.

The plot of The Division is simple, a man-made virus devastates the planet wiping out a significant amount of the population. The survivors are left to fend for themselves in a lawless country where society has broken down. As a last resort, the government activates Division agents. Leading seemingly ordinary lives among the normal population, these agents are trained to operate independently of command when all else fails. Their mission, is to restore authority and help the survivors rebuild society.

As a video production company, our sole objective is to create watchable good video content. So this was a fantastic opportunity for us to create a video game trailer that did just that.

 

Pre-Production

Our first step was research. We watched the CGI video game trailers created for the Division by Ubisoft to engross ourselves in the tone of the game. We also looked at a lot of fan made content that had already begun to swamp Youtube before the launch. We did a lot of research into the game to understand what it was about and what messages it was trying to convey.

We wanted to set aside all of the negative connotations of video game films. And introduce an audience to stories and characters that are separate from the events of the main game. We wanted to make something that fans of Tom Clancy would love. We wanted people to watch it and go “wow this is kickass, I really want to experience and play this.” Although we had a limited budget, nothing like the adverts created by Ubisoft, it was still a very doable idea if done in a fairly simple and accessible way whilst still honouring the message that the game conveys.

When writing the script, we derived that the key message in the game, was hope. The members of The Division were almost like guardian angels who would be a beacon of hope in the chaos. We also wanted to explore the “villains” in the game. Why do they do this, what are their motivations. We explored the possibility that they act like this to survive as a last resort, in a similar way that the Division agents were activated as a last resort. We wanted to explore what was happening in the UK during the virus’s aftermath and how Britain would deal with the situation. The Division is also a third person shooter, so we knew that there would be an element of fire arms involved in the story.

With the script signed off, we had a lot of preparation to do in a very short turn around time of 3 days in pre-production. The locations, actors, costumes, crew and specialist equipment were all sourced in this time. We brought in a fight choreographer to help us with the combat and an armourer to assist with the firearms. It’s amazing what you can do in pre-production with the right budget. We’re video producers after all, 90% of it is logistical problem solving.

We knew that the acting was key, so the auditions were in no way rushed. Ryan the lead actor did his audition in an American accent, which was fantastic. This was before the decision was made to base the film in the UK. We wanted to make this video game trailer more appealing to a UK audience since our client was Game UK. From the moment he got on set, he really sank into the role. He loved it, and lived and breathed the role.

 

Production

The set was also very important. We had places in mind before the project was even signed off. Filmmakers will always remember a great location for later if they see one!

Because this was a cinematic video game trailer, we wanted to use our cinematic RED cameras and Red Pro Prime lenses. These lenses would keep the focal points pin sharp and get plenty of image data to the image sensor for raw compression. This would give us a lot to work with in post-production when it comes to colour grading. We also wanted to shoot in a widescreen (letterbox) format for that cinemascope feel to the film.

Production lasted one very long day, but it was a very fun and creative experience. At 6:00am sharp we begun to assemble the equipment while the cast were in makeup. As each actor came out of makeup, we began blocking the scenes. This is where we run through the scenes with the actors to determine where the actors and camera will be during each shot, where they will move and when they will speak or perform an action as the camera rolls. Each shot was meticulously planned out and by 8:00am, the cameras were rolling and we were checking off our shot list. Andy the script writer was there to supervise the production and answer any questions about the source material. The make up artist Jo was on set to touch up any makeup and Anneliese was taking care of the continuity. We were wrapped by 6pm with a well deserved pat on the back after a brilliant team effort.

Post Production

The edit was quickly turned around in a day as we had a tight and simple script to follow. The colour grade and sound mix was applied and we delivered the final product.

Below is a behind the scenes video to give you a small idea on how we made The Division

And this is what we created!

The entire video game trailer was commissioned and completed within a week and a half.

 

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