Another dream project! I love Gone Home (and first person narrative games in general) so as soon as Tacoma was announced I knew I wanted to make a trailer for it. When I heard Fullbright planned on releasing in mid 2017, I emailed Steve Gaynor to see if they needed help with their launch trailer (couldn’t hurt, right?).
That’s how I got the gig!
Of course, that’s not all it took to get the gig. I previously edited the trailer for Gone Home on console, and I’d talked to Steve multiple times at various trade shows. In fact while at GDC when I was eating by myself at a Vietnamese restaurant, Steve coincidentally got seated next to me during the middle of my meal; we talked a bit before he had to rush off to do some Tacoma promotion.
As someone who makes trailers, it’s never lost on me that a lot of the job is just reminding people you exist! Despite all the times we talked I never once assumed that I was a shoo-in to get to work on Tacoma. So I’m glad I sent the email, and everything all worked out!
The game takes place on an apparently empty space station which your character Amy Ferrier is investigating. You do this by examining the environment, and via Augmented Reality recordings of past events. These playback in the physical space as if the people were really there walking around (but appear instead as colored holograms)
At any point during playback you can pause, rewind or fast-forward the recordings. It’s necessary to do this because you can only hear conversations in your immediate vicinity. For game capture purposes, this meant at the press of a button I could rewind a scene, change the camera angle, and get a new take with a different shot composition.
While capturing Tacoma I also made a 3X3 grid for my monitor via some blue tape and string. This helped me compose shots using the rule of thirds. I’ll have to come up with a way to quickly set up this grid on my monitor because this is something I’ll definitely use in the future! One of my favorite Twitter accounts is Comp Cam which overlays various line formations to illustrate beautiful shot compositions in film and TV.
This trailer is an expanded version of the teaser that played at the Microsoft E3 Press Conference. Fullbright licensed the music cue "Find Me" by Szjerdene, and made cutdowns of the song for both the teaser and full trailer. The full trailer includes song lyrics, but the teaser just uses instrumental portions of the cue.
First thing I did was very rough capture of all the dialogue (excluding spoilery sections). For the first pass I didn’t care about shot composition, because there was no sense putting that time in until I knew what lines I was using. I also marked up the music so I could see the gaps between the lyrics where I could potentially intercut dialogue.
The basic story for the trailer was: accident occurs on the space station, the crew members are worried what’s going to happen.
That doesn’t sound like much, but it felt like enough to entice the audience to want to know more. To pare down the dialogue I selected lines that had quick exposition about the situation, and lines that illustrated the stories of the individual characters.
In my first rough cut, the accident scene was in a cold open followed by Amy investigating in the station and watching more recordings. I threw that idea out because I decided that 90 seconds of the crew being worried might overstay its welcome. So instead I integrated the accident into the first half of the trailer.
The lyrics of the song are very appropriate to the story because it refers to picking up pieces of something to discover what was going on. Trailers aren’t the most subtle artform out there, so I just cut visuals that literally matched those lines. I intercut the dialogue with pretty visuals, a bit of gameplay, and small visual story bits like the low oxygen meter. Everything in the backend of the trailer was cut to support each character’s little story within the trailer.
Once I had a dialogue edit for the trailer I went back into the game to find the best angles for each line of dialogue. If it wasn't immediately apparently what angle would look best I simply captured from a few angles that I thought looked good, then tried them out in the cut to see which one fit best. It cannot be overstated how much easier the rewind mechanic made this process and dramatically sped up the creative process. It was fun acting like a digital steadicam operator in the game, and trying my best to get as smooth a camera movement as possible while also making the composition look very pretty!
Steve and Karla really liked my first cut, and only had some very minor notes about shuffling up the backend dialogue and swapping in a few lines. Other than that, very little was changed!
The song choice for this trailer played no small part in how much fun it was to edit. Great build up, pertinent lyrics, and a beautiful climax. I love cutting in visuals that go well with the feel of the music. Intercutting dialogue between song lyrics isn’t something I get to do often, but it adds a nice extra layer of story.
This was a tremendously fun project to work on, and I really love how the trailer came out! It simply cannot be repeated enough how smoothly a project can be when there’s good music to work with. All of that on top of the gorgeous visuals, and the rewind mechanic translated into one of my favorite recent projects!