This is the third trailer I've made for Tacoma. Making a second or third trailer is always a mix of feelings because being forced to find new ways to tell a story is challenging, but at the same time having constraints can be freeing since you can narrow your focus.
There were a handful of things the trailer had to include:
- New licensed music track
- Review quotes and accolades
- Callout for the new audio commentary mode
The only other guideline was to show that Tacoma is "a gripping, surprising story that people will love to play, and features characters they'll fall in love with."
I already had dialogue selects in my Tacoma project file, which saved me a lot of time, but I had to figure out how to make this trailer distinct from the first two that I made.
I started by roughly cutting in placeholders for review quotes, awards and other title cards that I knew had to be in the cut no matter what. I also listened to the music track over and over again. I knew right away that I couldn't cut the new music track in the same fashion as I did for the launch date trailer. The launch date trailer's music has a lot of empty space in between lyrics, and also the lyrics nicely tied into the story of the game. Since this track wasn't as flexible, I decided to use it as the climax for the middle/end of the trailer.
I also re-used the music track from the launch trailer to start things off slow before the station accident and the licensed music track kicking in.
The dialogue for the first trailer along the lines of "Something bad happened, and we're worried." So for this trailer I wanted the dialogue to include more exposition about who the characters are, what happened, what they're going to do, and what their hopes are. I also wanted to start with a cold open to showcase a scene of action.
This approach is in keeping with my philosophy that as a trailer campaign progresses, the details should get more specific. This doesn't necessarily mean delving into spoiler territory, it just means a narrower focus for each trailer. I think that the audience gets bored by a broad view very quickly, so providing details are how I keep things interesting.
Fullbright provided me with a spreadsheet of press quotes that they liked, so it was up to me to select a handful from reputable publications. I chose a variety of quotes that mentioned different facets of the game, and chose visuals that I felt matched with the quotes. For example: "A story that's both gripping and emotional" gets paired with an intimate moment and also Serah's panic attack.
Since I was working with expositional dialogue, a lot of the shot selection was just showing what was being talked about, and finding pretty areas of the game. One thing I really wanted to do was to let the space of the game breathe more in this trailer. Looking back at the first trailers, I had a lot of tightly framed shots, so this time around I increased the field of view, and tried to move around the space more.
The graphics integrated into the scenes took a bit longer than I expected them to because I had difficulty with the motion tracking. Sometimes the Y axis would flip the heck out, so I just deleted the keyframes in between the first and last one, and it looked pretty good after that. In some shots like the one for audio commentary, I just did a simple 2D motion track and eyeballed where to put the text in the space.
I love cutting trailers with title cards because it gives me an excuse to make big moments out of sections of the music, and I just enjoy the back and forth of title cards and dialogue.
After sending my cuts off for approval, I only had very minor technical tweaks before we reached the final version. Even though it's an absolute delight to receive minimal notes on a cut, part of me always assumes that it's not due to the quality of what I'm making, but the standards of the person looking at the cut. Then I have to remind myself that I'm working with people whose taste I respect, so I should just shut up and enjoy a good thing.
While doing quality checks I fixed some minor continuity details that probably few people would've noticed, but of course the more I watched the trailer the more it bothered me to see, so I just took the time to fix those things without impacting the cut.
This was a pretty quick turnaround, but my work organizing footage for the previous trailers got me a real leg up. So the lesson here is to organize your footage well so that future you can still make heads or tails of it.
If you have a PS4, and haven't played Tacoma I recommend that you do! I love audio commentaries in games, and there are a lot of great nuggets in Tacoma's. It's how I know that in the zero-g area of the station, you can actually dive through the basketball hoop if you move through it just right.