Los Angeles — Square Enix and Airtight Games teamed with Academy-Award-winning digital production studio Digital Domain and Directors Neil Huxley and Vernon Wilbert to create a 90-second trailer to launch their new game, Murdered: Soul Suspect, which releases later this year.
The trailer piques viewers' imaginations with a brief origin story of the game's protagonist, Ronan, and builds to a climactic reveal - driving viewers to a website to learn more.
When Square Enix and Airtight Games sought a creative partner to realize the trailer (and an earlier 30-seocnd sneak-peek teaser back in January) they set the bar extremely high. "We needed a team that could pull off production quality of the highest degree, tell our story in CG in a way that felt emotive and powerful - more like a film than a game, and do it all within a games marketing schedule and budget," said Square Enix Executive Producer Naoto Sugiyama. "Few companies in the world have that capability. Digital Domain was our top choice."
The trailer introduces Ronan and takes the viewer along with the tough cop as he discovers that the grisly murder he is trying to solve is his own. It also unveils some of the rules by which players navigate the "ghost" world.
"Square Enix and Airtight had a great concept for the teaser," said Digital Domain's Co-Director Neil Huxley. "What we set out to do was to create another experience of it; to take it into another realm entirely."
To realize the stylized, movie-like piece, Huxley and Co-Director Vernon Wilbert used the tools and techniques of filmmaking. They began by developing a story for Ronan, which then defined the structure and limitations of his environments. For the shoot, they segmented the script and shot it in sections, like a typical feature film, instead of shot-by-shot, the more common approach for games marketing.
"By working this way we were able to help the actor stay in the moment during the shoot and capture several different camera angles, which helped us avoid re-shoots," said Huxley.
"Digital Domain has worked with some of the biggest directors of the past 20 years and brings that film knowledge to every project," said Wilbert. "We took things like lens flares created for the game environment and re-created them so they could work in a real world. We adapted some of the visual rules of films that inspired us, and brought their style of lighting, cameras, shooting - even the contrast ratio from color grading - into this piece because they were great metaphors for this story."
Huxley and Wilbert also leveraged Digital Domain's virtual production studio and team, conducting a live action stage shoot to capture the mood, tone, lighting and body/face/voice performance that drove the digital characters and assets. They tapped the studio's advanced facial capture and animation process and pipeline used on the Academy-Award-winning movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, on
Jack the Giant Slayer and many other top features and commercials.
Rich Flier, VP of Advertising and Games at Digital Domain and Mothership, said, "Square Enix really wanted to bring the marketing for this game to a different level -- raising the entertainment and production value of every aspect of this game, starting with the first introduction of the character. We unleashed all of the talent and know-how we have built over years of feature film and advertising work to create a sophisticated piece that did justice to the concept they had created."
Watch the Trailer.