Dev diary: production process of the story trailer

Hey! We recently released our first video, introducing the game’s lore. If you have not seen it, here is it:

We recommend you to watch it first, because we will describe its production process…

It was our first experience in video production of this kind, in which we failed frequently and learned a lot of new things. It will sound cliché but our biggest lesson was to stick to the original plan and not to overload existing material with new ideas through over iteration. From the very beginning this video was planned to be quite simple: images moving along with a parallax effect with some animated elements, subtitles and a voice over. We really liked World of Warcraft plot promo videos from Warlords of Draenor expansion and used them a lot as a reference and that worked pretty well. But of course we’re really good at overcomplicating things….so eventually it happened and luckily we abandoned most of these decisions and ideas, because they would slow down the production process many times over and nobody knows when this video would be released in this case. 

One of these amazing ideas was to combine our slides with some real life video footage and it emerged when the video was about 50% complete.

One of the slides

The “amazing” idea: there would be a bard sitting by the campfire and playing music on a real music instrument and next to him, an old man in a hooded cowl, also warming up by the fire. Suddenly, the old man would pull out a book from his knapsack, open it and start telling an old story of the past years, accompanied by bard’s music. From time to time the camera would zoom into the open book and the hand drawn slides would appear in full screen and start moving. Such a scenario would probably look a bit cliché to a lot of people, but it turned out to be incredibly difficult to implement this even at the stage of preparing the props. We had costumes and performers, an enthusiast with a long beard was found for the role of an old man and the bard would be played by Dryante, our composer and sound designer. We also had a perfect campfire filming location under a large tree. One of the most important things that were missing was the very book that needed to be worked out in as much detail as possible, since it would have flashed in the video quite a large number of times, with a lot of close-ups. This was our first pitfall. We had ordered a nice leather cover with metal buckle but somehow it totally bypassed our designer’s approval. When he saw the result, he immediately rejected it and began to work out a new detailed layout.

Layout created by our designer

And this is what was ordered without the approval of our designer and eventually discarded:

The next problem was about Gusli – It’s a Slavic musical instrument, very similar to a harp. The bard had to play it, because it’s the most recognizable Slavic musical instrument, at least for most Slavic people and because Dmitry “Dryante” is a big fan of live music and plays on a lot of different instruments and it would also be used to write and play game soundtracks. But the maker turned out to be terribly unscrupulous. By the time we had to start filming, he had not even begun to fulfill our order.

Here’s a music video with Tribal OST played by Dryante, with long awaited gusli:

The third and the last issue, that forced us to postpone this whole idea of creating a story trailer with real life footage and eventually completely abandon it, – the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic last year. 

Now we understand that such a complex project would most likely reduce the overall quality of the video, even with a huge amount of effort invested into it. We are glad that circumstances did not allow us to bring this into reality and waste a huge amount of time.

In addition, we had disagreements about how to end the video. There were proposals to make the characters ( the bard and the old man ) disappear. Viewers would simply see how their clothes fall on the ground, and the people themselves disappear, just like the Jedi becoming one with the force. But there was an argument that some people might interpret this as if both characters removed their clothes and began to perform inappropriate acts, naked, off camera, lol.

Also, in the process of searching for an English voice actor that was also supposed to proofread our translation from Russian into English, a rather amusing incident occurred. A native speaker looked at our narrative and told us not to do overload the story by inventing gods with stupid and unpronounceable names, after which he hinted that the Western audience prefers Scandinavian or ancient Greek gods. We were surprised and tried to explain that Svarog and Perun were not invented by us.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that it was the first experience for everyone in the team involved in the production of this video. The artist had never done animations before, the composer had never done sound design and the screenwriter had never written any text for such videos. But in the process, we gained a lot of valuable experience, and in the next similar work we will rely on it to optimize our workflow and make everything faster and better.

Date : 16 09 2021 Tribal development team