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Behind the Magic: Crafting the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes Trailer

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In the vast expanse of the gaming world, crafting a trailer that stands out is as much art as it is science. But when you merge that challenge with the legacy of an iconic universe like Star Wars, the stakes reach astronomical levels. At AdLiven, we embraced this challenge with passion, innovation, and a hefty dose of intergalactic creativity. From the first spark of inspiration to the final rendered frame, our journey in creating the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes trailer was an adventure of its own, replete with challenges, triumphs, and cherished moments. Dive in with us as we unravel this cosmic journey, guided by insights from our very own lead designer, Nathan Peyton.

Inspiration and Vision: A Galactic Landscape

The vastness of the Star Wars universe cannot be understated, and capturing its essence in a trailer is no easy feat. The vision was ambitious right from the start. The initial draft showcased 12 distinct scenes, from the awe-inspiring Sith Triumvirate to the iconic Rancor Pit. However, as with any creative endeavor, adaptability was key. The team reorganized these scenes, concentrating the main trailer on four pivotal moments, with the Krayt Dragon Raid launch taking the spotlight. By weaving in elements from both the original and prequel trilogies and paying homage to the expanded universe, AdLiven sought to celebrate the full spectrum of Star Wars lore.

Even for those just casually familiar with the Star Wars universe you’ll know the iconic image of Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker and his droid companions. Opening on the most iconic touchstones of the Original Trilogy sets immediate expectations around the deluge of action that a viewer can expect. Extra attention was paid to match the hazy volumetric atmosphere of Jabba’s Palace.
The Sith Triumvirate are as dark and intimidating as their lair suggests. Accentuating their unique abilities, character, and light-sabers in chiaroscuro lighting created maximum visual impact and differentiating visual palette from the themes before and after.
The penultimate shots of this piece featuring Din Djarin changed gears, slowing the action to build a moment of tension before the explosive reveal of the Krayt Dragon. Cloth, sand, and volume simulations help to place characters clearly in the vast deserts and rocky crags of Tatooine.

Creative Process: Collaboration in Hyperdrive

At the heart of this endeavor was the spirit of collaboration. Our synergy with EA was unparalleled, as we consistently exchanged ideas, refined scenes, and developed a gripping narrative that reflected its storied origins. Our collective aim was crystal clear: to deliver a cinematic spectacle introducing the Krayt Dragon Raid in-game event, tailor-made for our discerning mobile-first audience. Staying true to the Star Wars hallmark wasn't without challenges. Nathan reflects, "Delving deep into the movies and the game was essential. Every nuance, from the pulsating lightsaber glow to the characteristic lengths of blaster fires, was scrutinized to resonate authentically."

This animatic shows the progression from storyboards to blockouts to rough and final animations to VFX and final compositing. Each second demanded hours of attention and teams of animators and subject matter experts each doing their part. Leaving nothing to chance meant there were as few surprises in production as possible.

Technical Details: The Digital Forge

Diving into the tech side, the team wielded an array of tools, with Maya standing out as the leading software, driving animation, look development, and rendering of each scene. As with any project of this magnitude, organization was paramount. "Every shot needed a plan to address asset needs, assembly, story, animation, FX, lighting, and more," says Nathan. Amidst the spreadsheets, charts, and countless reviews, the team managed to keep the trailer's high-fidelity demands in check, running multiple test renders and refining every step of the way.

This one is a 3D animatic, comparing to the original 2d animatic. It was used to help blockout camera and character positions, before we proceeded with animations. It also contains shots that we needed to cut later.

Collaboration and Teamwork: A Symphony of Talents

With a star-studded team of 19, clearly defined roles and fluid communication became the order of the day. From riggers to animators, everyone had a pivotal part to play. Nathan highlights the team's resilience, emphasizing how technical difficulties were vanquished through teamwork. And when it came to creative disagreements? "It was all about the story," he states, noting that decisions were always geared towards enhancing the narrative's lore and plot points.

An early animation cut of the trailer. Here we were trying to polish up framing and character animation, before moving to character based FX (except the Krayt Dragon already had that started)

Challenges and Overcoming Them: Galactic Hurdles

The magnitude of the project, fused with demanding deadlines, posed a colossal challenge. Yet, our adaptability and ingenuity steered us forward. We reimagined our strategy, bifurcating the trailer into two distinguished videos, ensuring no compromise on quality. Nathan offers a glimpse into certain demanding scenes, like the intricate detailing required for General Grievous and the Krayt Dragon sequences, emphasizing the mastery behind each frame.

Closing Thoughts: A New Hope for Game Trailers

Reflecting on the experience, Nathan offers wisdom for those venturing into similar projects, emphasizing meticulous planning and trust in creative partners. He envisions a future for game trailers shimmering with creative freedom, where varied styles and interpretations coalesce, painting a diverse canvas for iconic brands like Star Wars. It's an exciting horizon, and with teams like AdLiven at the helm, the galaxy of game trailers seems brighter than ever.

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Michael Sabetta
Michael Sabetta
Director of Marketing