Creating Game Trailers With A Big Budget Movie Feel

Have you noticed that game trailers often look as good as or better than the trailers for many movies? They have the great same feel as movie trailers and, they tell a story the same way. Gaming is big business and nowadays, only the best high resolution and partial live action graphics will do. It is all about enticing people to play in the same way it is to get them to spend money on a movie ticket.

When you deal with high-end media, you need the right support with the best techniques and tools available to create something that motivates people to take action. The graphics and action need to reach out and be so realistic that whoever is watching the game trailer feels as if they are already in the game itself. The producers of game trailers do this by showcasing the best aspects of the game in the most visually appealing way possible.

To do this, Mocap plus 3D scanning of the characters for replication is the best option. If you are really serious, it is the only option. This method is the most time and money efficient process to choose. An exact replica can be created in as little as  day rather than taking up to a month to model a character from scratch. The other major advantage is that character movements will be smooth and flowing – even as or more natural in appearance than many of the more time and labor intensive processes.

In regard to building an environment as opposed to a person, 3D scanning allows for the greatest pipeline efficiency possible. The newly created 3D scanned environment can be re-used, as can portions of the trailer in cut scenes which provides a consistent model and helps amortize production costs.

Few companies excel at creating game trailers that can be compared to big budget movie trailers. Between demands on time and money, it takes a company that has an intimate working knowledge of exactly what is and isn’t needed to create a compelling game trailer. When you do have a company that understands how to maximize the use of their tools efficiently, the evidence of such can be seen in the finished product.

3D SCANS GIVE A REALITY CHECK TO GAME TRAILERS

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An Exclusive Conversation with Entertainment Industry Veterans—TNG Visual Effects’ Nick Tesi and Blur Studio’s Jerome (Jed) Denjean.

Blur Studio knows how to draw the masses into the cinematic genius of video games. Over the years, their enthralling game trailers have become as epic as feature film trailers, with compelling visuals, intense audio and rich storytelling. A big part of what makes a game trailer convincing and alluring is the realism of the characters in the scene. For the team at Blur, this is where 3D scanning from TNG Visual Effects comes in.

TNG’s Founder Nick Tesi sits down with long-time client CG and Character Modeling Supervisor Jed Denjean to discuss ways that 3D scanning technology impacts the final product.

NT: In general, how do 3D scans help you achieve your overall production goals?
JD: Blur is constantly trying to raise the quality bar for our cinematics and realistic human faces have become an absolute necessity. The quality of our characters will literally make or break a project. We had to look beyond just traditional modeling at some point and the scans from TNG were the perfect complement to our modeling team.
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NT: How do 3D scans (ours or anyone else’s) aide your production schedules?
JD: TNG’s scans help our schedules in two ways. First, we don’t need to wait for our modelers to be 80% done before we can show our clients what their hero characters will look like. We work with them in finding actors or talent that will match their vision, and then we can give them the assurance that the final product will match the talent 100%. It usually takes more time to find and book the talents than it is to get the final geometry after the scanning session. Quality has always been top notch, and TNG is very flexible in terms of delivering both geometry and textures in a format that would fit our pipeline the best. They’ll always adapt to our needs for a specific topology or way to capture skin detail during the scanning process.
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NT: Tell us a little more about what you scan most often and which current projects incorporate this technology.
JD: At Blur, we’ve only scanned people so far, and maybe one day it will make sense to scan props as well. You can find TNG scans in the recently released Batman Arkham Asylum 2 trailer. The guard being tortured in the chair is a scan of one of our animators. The scan is so accurate; everybody had a lot of fun working on one of their co-workers.
TRAILER FOOTAGE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yehXQf9ph1c
There will be many more in the coming weeks, but most of them are still awaiting release.
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NT: Do you reuse digital models which were originally captured with 3D scanning and, if so, does that help you monetize your investment in these services?
JD: Yes, in addition to actors’ faces, we’ve also done full body scans that are invaluable across different projects. We do sometimes share assets across multiple projects and it does help our modeling budget a lot.
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NT: Is there anything else you would like to share about 3D scanning as a tool in your production toolkit? How has my company helped you during our time working together?
JD: Blur has created a solid relationship with TNG over the years. We love working with you and your team because we know you’ll always make sure we’re happy with the final product. TNG is very flexible in terms of schedule, delivery dates and most importantly file format. It’s great to be able to just send over a reference mesh with our preferred topology before we start a project, and be able to literally plug the scans into our pipeline without having to retouch anything. I know we’ll be using them for all our projects in need of 3D scanning.
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NT: Just curious – why do you have a single vendor approach for 3D scanning?
JD: It’s still a relatively new technology for us, and we’ve really only been using it for the past 3 years or so. TNG has always made us feel comfortable with the process and the results so there’s a lot of trust there. We’re not sold on a single vendor approach for everything we do, but in this case we’ve been so happy with the final products that we’ve never even considered looking elsewhere.
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NT: Thanks for your time, Jed.
JD: Thanks, Nick. It’s been fun. Now back to work for both of us.

Nick Tesi is founder of TNG Visual Effects and brings more than a decade of entertainment industry experience. He honed his extensive knowledge of the gaming industry by working with such companies as Blur Studio, THQ, Midway, Sony, 2K Sports, Bioware and EA.

Jerome (Jed) Denjean is a CG and Character Modeling Supervisor at Blur Studio with more than 16 years of proven experience. His recent projects include trailers for DC Online Universe, Brink, Prototype and Dragon Age: Origins.

ABOUT BLUR STUDIO
Blur Studio is an Academy and Emmy Nominated production studio based in Venice, California. Founded in 1995, the company provides award-winning character animation, visual effects and design for a wide range of media – short films, large format films, commercials, concept art, feature effects, game cinematics and broadcast design. Blur is recognized at one of the top producers of Video Game Trailers in the world. Notable clients include FOX, Disney, Universal Pictures, CBS, Microsoft, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, EA, Lucas Arts, Warner Bros., Activision, Sony, and Nickelodeon, among others. For more information, please visit http://www.blur.com.

ABOUT TNG VISUAL EFFECTS
Founded by entertainment technology veteran Nick Tesi, TNG Visual Effects offers advanced 3D scanning and motion capture services for clients in film, TV, gaming and commercial industries in Los Angeles and on location around the world – on time and on budget. TNG Visual Effects (North) provides on-location 3D scanning services throughout Toronto and Vancouver.
The TNG team offers the right mix of technological know-how, mobility, customer service, efficiency and affordability. They understand how to work with producers, directors and A-list talent, making the most of their precious time and ensuring their understanding of the process. The investment in digital models can be priceless for some productions – including those where talent is unavailable for reshoots or with long franchises where talents age over the series. In addition to heads and bodies, the company also scans props such as weapons, buildings, vehicles and any other items needed by production.
TNG clients include Fox Studios, Summit Entertainment, Blur Studio, Acne Media Inc., Evergreen Productions, HBO, Stargate Studios, Spark Unlimited, Troublemaker Studios and Alvernia Studios, among others. For more information about TNG, please visit http://www.tngvisualeffects.com.

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May 05, 2011