Activision Publishing, Inc. and High Moon Studios tapped Digital Domain and Mothership Director Neil Huxley to create the new teaser trailer for the highly anticipated Transformers: Fall of Cybertron video game that premiered early this month on SpikeTV’s GT.TV. Picking up where the first teaser (December 2011) ended, the new 90-second short delivers a fast-paced, high-impact battle sequence revealing new hero characters including fan favorite Metroplex.
Featuring characters from Hasbro’s iconic Transformers brand, the piece opens as the Autobots are locked in battle with the Decepticons. Grimlock is joined in combat against Bruticus by two new Dinobots, Swoop and Snarl, as Optimus Prime is suffering at the hands of Megatron, Shockwave, and Starscream. Just as Megatron comes in for the final blow, Optimus Prime unleashes the colossal Metroplex, who is the size of an entire city. Metroplex heeds the call of the Autobots, powering himself with the last of the planet’s Energon to offer the first indication that the tides of this war may shift.
“The vision this time around was much more apocalyptic,” said Huxley, who also wrote the piece. “This trailer was all about more destruction, more atmospherics—all much bigger in scope. We had already explored the more emotional side of these characters with a slow-paced, dramatic slice of the story in the first teaser; with this one we shifted gears to accelerate the action. We knew that the client wanted to reveal Metroplex in the climax of this spot. That was really the jumping off point, and we were given the creative freedom to develop the storyline that would hook the audience back into this world.”
Peter Della Penna, Studio Head at High Moon Studios, said, “With Digital Domain, you know you will always get something beautiful and technically precise. What we learned on this piece is that their work on the story and directing front is equally strong. It was great working with Digital Domain again and getting the full benefit of their creativity.”
The Digital Domain team, led by Digital Domain Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Morton, was able to leverage the digital assets and pipeline developed for the previous Transformers: Fall of Cyberton trailer <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnazs2t5Brg>, also directed by Huxley, that achieved over six million views online within days of its debut.
On the production side, after Activision approved Huxley’s script, Digital Domain was able to skip the typical pre-visualization step and went straight onto the virtual production stage, framing shots using existing digital assets from the previous piece. By repurposing many of the digital models and environments built for the first trailer, the team was able to significantly compress the production schedule, completing the piece in eight weeks. Hero movements for newly introduced characters were recorded in motion capture, and game assets were rebuilt for high-resolution playback. Working again in Digital Domain’s virtual production studio, Huxley directed the movement of CG sets and motion-capture actors in real time – shooting the CG story with a virtual camera as if he were shooting live action. A team of 14 Digital Domain artists created battling robots that leap, fly and transform across the screen, and extensive smoke and fire that drives the apocalyptic look and feel of the trailer.
Rich Flier, executive producer, business development, Mothership and Digital Domain, said, “Activision wanted another high-impact teaser to galvanize the Transformers fan base, but which delivered a completely different pace and feel than the first one. Getting to build a story around the reveal of Metroplex and other popular characters from the Transformers brand was a fantastic opportunity for Neil and the team.”