Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
Platform: XBox 360 and PS3
When we came on board to help with the Flashpoint video, a strong brand identity had already been established. The use of dramatic black and white images, accented with an intense yellow highlight and layered in 3d, created a parallax effect which added depth and interest to the user interface. This was the effect that we needed to recreate in the video that we produced for the game.
For those unfamiliar with the game, the story revolves around the claim of a small island, Skira, off the coast of China. Through the years many nations had tried to declare Skira as their own. We had to create a graphic timeline which was interesting and flowed through the different points in time, without it feeling like a dreary history lesson. The compositions would also help to reinforce the plot of the game.
The design process started with us creating bullet points for all the images that were needed to tell the story. We were given a period of 8 weeks to produce the video which was 3 minutes long, from start to finish. It was soon found that the bullet points lasted over 5 minutes and some drastic story editing had to take place. Timing the rough animatic to a metronome beat, we managed to get the story to around the 3 minute mark and we then moved onto storyboarding the shots.
Our first boards consisted of lots of 3d elements and a wide variety of typographic treatments.
The clients felt that this was stretching the existing identity too far and had to be drawn back to keep more inline with the original UI.
After several revisions we moved onto creating the compositions in Photoshop.
Each image had be created at a 2k size so that we could pan, zoom and rotate around the composition.They were also created in layers, some up to around 20 layers, to help create the illusion that they were moving snapshots in time.
One issue that we still had to resolve, whilst moving into the production phase, was the time jump. We originally had a concept of a 3 dimensional timeline that we could move past and connect the yellow line with. This again looked too different to the established style and we looked at some other designs. We did some tests of a text jump. A visual soup of events that we moved through in z space which did exactly what we wanted without breaking the style.
It also served as a palette cleanser. Giving a break from the continuous images.
Once we had solved the timeline problem, we then had to link up all the compositions so that we could flow a yellow line through them.
As all the images were composited in 3d space, we decided to edit and composite the entire project in After Effects. Custom plug-ins had to be written to help manage the large scenes but this meant we could flow from one image to another without having to worry about matching transitions or timing issues.
Towards the end of the project, as the intro was 2d image based and the game was 3d, we rendered the final sequence of the video in 3d. We achieved this by using existing game models which we added more geometry and detail to. We then rendered a short sequence which was composited back into the main After Effects file.
The project was successfully completed within the time and budget.
We then collaborated again on the sequel to Dragon Rising, Red River where we went on to produce the intro and the mission videos.