How to create Game Trailer — Firsthand experience

Trailers are without a doubt essential part of any game marketing and PR efforts. Creating solid Cinematic or Game Reveal Trailer is craft, that is different from developing game or digital assets. I would like to share my firsthand experience on the matter.

Lets start from End Result and gradually break down process along the way.

Trailer has to engage and entertain, and make sure the viewer leaves with some degree of understanding of what the game is about.
This is the Trailer we created for game Exticntion: AG

Trailer Outline:

  • Style — episodic gameplay scenes
  • Main highlights — Rotbutre action and kill sequences, human abilities showcase
  • Mood — fastpaced action
  • Purpose — initiate first stage of renewed marketing efforts
  • Three words message — fastpaced, dark and brutal

My approach to trailer creation is based on industry standards. The structure of the trailer can be divided into Three Core stages — Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production and Two sub-stages — Ideation ( I call it Development and Design) and Promotion

Development and Promotion Stages Visualized

What is at the heart of any cinematic video material — Content and Idea. Trailers are no different in this sense.

Content for our trailer consisted of — Voice-over, Gameplay footage, Music tracks, Visual effects, Game specific — Game Level, In-Engine Animation, 3D Models, and Sound Effects. Trailer as any short video must have text content — General Trailer Outrline Doc, Script, Timing and Dialogs (for voice-over).

Idea is at heart of any creative work. I prefer to start ideation process from gathering references (other games and cinema trailers) and making quick/rough storyboards, each board representing key scene-event .

Having Software Engineering background I love to diagram every process

As with any other complex work process, it’s hard to (you can, but it will be Hard) work efficiently on your own. That is why it is important to distribute tasks between several people and involve team members, even if it’s for critique and comments, only. Typical tasks range from Storyboard, to Visual set-up — scene, camera and animation. Besides what is true to Product design methodology applies to trailers as well; Test, Evaluate and get feedback at every stage of the process. At the beginning, professional expertise and opinion of your team, can be sufficient. However the sooner you involve outside people for QA, the better your end result will look like. At the end, we are making this Trailer for people to enjoy, aren’t we ?

Images type of Materials we used to make our Trailer

Next, shifting from Organisational and Pre-Production stages, to Video Editing. The workflow, we implemented consists of 2 stages Video Sequences, 1st being core video footage and 2nd is pre-final cut. For intial Video Sequence we got inspired by Battlefield 1 Trailer, Dead Space 3 and BattleBorn, among many others, incl. Overwatch hero stories.

For Production we divided video into 4 stages — Stage #1: Introduction , Stage #2: Main Action Part 1, Stage #3: Main Action Part 2, Stage #4: End with Some Intriguing factors.

Pre-Production and Production are very difficult but the most fun Stages

Video Editing is essential part of Post-Production, to simplify labor and resolve issues, we implemented special Workflow. It includes, Process, Organization, Transition and Editing handling, Footage and Iteration. Video editing is a long process. Don’t expect a great video until after 3–5 iterations. Patience and striving will prevail.

Few Tips, we employed for the Trailer prodcution:

  1. Pick song/music first
  2. Divide into acts (usually Three)
  3. Have breaks

More importantly, you should keep close watch on things that are Bad practices:

  1. Put too much content
  2. Fill your drafts with too much detail
  3. Do not share draft progress with team members/critics
Good first impression and good acceptance of the community are required for the Pilot Trailer. Remember, there is always room for more polishing — Getting fresh eyes to view your video is the mandatory action.

I would like to thank Mario Funderburck and EAG Team for making this Trailer.