‘New Legends Will Rise’ in the latest trailer for the new Destiny 2 video game by Bungie and Activision. Framestore partnered with ad agency 72andSunny, Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts and RSA Films to create the visually intricate trailer, mixing live-action with cinematic CG and visual effects, based on the characters and worlds created by Bungie.
In two minute trailer Cayde-6 rallies three Guardians into a battle to defend Earth against the evil invading Red Legion, all set to ‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys. Cayde-6, who narrates the whole spot, is reprised by actor Nathan Fillion, best known for his role as Richard Castle on the TV series Castle, as well as Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the television series Firefly. Fillion was not on set, but he recorded himself on video delivering the speech which was used by to the actor who did the motion capture for Cayde-6 in the video for the Mo-Cap session.
To produce the theatrical live-action trailer, Bungie, Activision and 72andSunny hired Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts. The move is not unprecedented, Jon Favreau did a trailer for the original Destiny game. Vogt-Roberts, who has worked in comedy, dramas and action-packed blockbusters, purposefully approached the production as a feature film which was shot in his hometown of Detroit. The spots extensive VFX was by Framestore LA. ‘Jordan is a very hands on director with a strong vision, who understands the VFX process thoroughly,’ explained Framestore’s Creative Director Alex Thomas. ‘Being able to discuss VFX methodology with him in detail makes it much faster to arrive at a solution to any problem.’
Jordan Vogt-Roberts commented to THR “Kong had finished, and I was trying to figure out how to process what the last two and a half years of my life was. I’m so proud of the collaborations with Kong, but that was a quarter of a decade, essentially, so I wasn’t looking to jump into a project right away. I was sort of looking at commercials and TV stuff. This sort of randomly came up, and I was joking, “Well, I love comedy, I love sci-fi and I love video games, so this is sort of a perfect combination.” It only got sweeter when during my pitch I said I wanted to actually shoot it in Detroit. Luckily, [Activision CEO] Eric Hirshberg is from Michigan as well and saw that and said, “All right, cool. Let’s do that.” So, the job kept getting sweeter and sweeter for me”.
In Destiny 2, humanity has fallen to an overwhelming invasion force, led by Ghaul, the imposing commander of the brutal Red Legion. To defeat the Red Legion and confront Ghaul, Guardians must reunite humanity’s scattered heroes, stand together, and fight back to reclaim Earth. But unexpectedly the trailer starts with live action footage showing the loss of everyday loved items such as skinny / no foam lattes, binge watching and puppies.
Framestore was responsible for bringing the CG and visual effects elements to the level of a cinematic feature trailer. The project was a huge undertaking led by Framestore’s LA and NY facilities. In addition to some background replacements for the live-action scenes, the visual effects team produced digital doubles, full CG characters, environments and compositional elements like explosions as well as particle and destruction sequences.
In the opening scene where Cayde-6 rallies his three guardians Titan, Hunter and Warlock, Framestore created a street aesthetic to sure a futuristic dystopia with a combination of neon signs and ruined architecture using a 2.5D matte painting projection technique. The team extended the entire street scene to add depth and the caged ‘Traveler’ in the background with red accents to showcase the enemies’ master plan at work. In the background Framestore detailed additional battle space ships, explosions and atmospheric considerations like smoke, embers and ash using a combination of Nuke, Maya and Houdini renders. The Space scenes were completed by Framestore’s New York facility including the intro sequence and a fully CG space environment where the new villain of Destiny 2, Dominus Ghaul, is detailed whilst his ships descends into art directed chaos and destruction.
Weapons and Effects.
Each gun in Destiny produces unique flairs and qualities such as the new Wardcliff Coil rocket launcher, which produced what Framestore calls a ‘drunken’ missile flair. Framestore also converted the original 3D assets from Bungie into high resolution CG characters and weapons for the cinematic film. Environment effects like ash and embers were added to give depth and atmosphere.
CG weapons, effects and volumetric muzzle flash libraries for each gun were created to correlate with the game character’s weapons of choice, including a fully CG Psion character and gun. Framestore designed CG versions of Hunter’s staff, Warlock’s sword, Titan’s shield and a fiery sword at the end. During the live action production these weapons were represented by LED lights with specific colors. This ensured accurate interactive lighting and reflections during the shoot to facilitate the integration of the CG weapons in post-production. Other weapon effects included CG lasers and speakers in addition to the continual aesthetic of smoke and embers.
CG Villains and Digital Doubles of Guardians
Framestore created digital doubles of the Guardians Titan, Hunter and Warlock based on motion capture. In concert with Bungie, the villains and quadruped beasts were drafted from Destiny 2’s 3D assets. Framestore married two live action plates for another complex sequence that included a digital breakthrough moment for Titan.
Framestore’s ever-evolving tools included the crafting of new pipeline and plugin tools specifically for NUKE to deliver the cinematic quality lens effects needed for this trailer. There was a high emphasis on creating and reproducing the optical and photographic qualities of anamorphic lenses during the shoot. “As digital cameras become more and more perfect, filmmakers are looking for VFX and old, vintage lenses to add character, imperfections and charisma to their images” posted Framestore. The colour grade was completed in-house at the Los Angeles office by colorist Jonah Braun who created a unique and distinctive saturated look. “Destiny really does have a very bright, almost primary color palette. Instead of running away from that, I said, “Let’s lean into that.”” explained the director, Vogt-Roberts. “I love the idea of leaning into what games make you feel — the type of gameplay, how you translate an active experience of playing a game into a passive experience of watching something. How you re-create and elicit emotions is what’s interesting to me. This is just one smaller representation of how you make these leaps.”
The Director’s next feature film project is the upcoming Metal Gear Solid film.”Metal Gear is an infinitely tricky project, and there’s a billion ways to go wrong with that. Every little experiment is ultimately going in that reservoir of knowledge of how to protect an equally important property to people.” he told THR.
Destiny 2 will be released on September 6 for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. The PC version is released later on October 24th. Interestingly the Destiny 2 Beta for PC has shown serious advantages over the console version. The PC has adjustable quality settings, unlocked frame rate and field of view along with HDR support and can be seen as part of a trend back to PC gaming that has been happening in recent times. Given the age of console technology, new PCs can greatly outperform dedicated consoles.
Bungie and Activision has done a good job it seems in having a core of software that scales well between different hardware. Bungie’s has locked the consoles at 30fps due to the heavy use of physics, animation and netcode processing. The PC version with the right multi-core CPU and high-end GPU such as an NVIDIA GeForceGTX can provide 60 fps at 4K. Eurogamer.net reported that with a top of the line PC and 1080TI card it was possible to have a Core i7 delivering 1920×1080 at between 120-200 fps. Previously, only a few games such as Battlefield 1 and Overwatch have been able to run at such high FPS. Also using solid-state storage (SSD) typical in high-end gaming PCs can also dramatically reduce loading times in games and improve the experience of Destiny 2.
Since the Beta, Executive Producer David Allen has stated publicly that the team has not only fixed a lot of bugs “including fixing things like an infinite super glitch, an infinite grenade glitch, a Warlock glide glitch – and we’ve made tweaks including decreasing Super recharge time, increasing grenade damage in PvE, and increasing power ammo drops in PvE”.
To avoid download problems on the day of release, people who pre-order the game can download it to say PS4 now, but the game itself will not be playable until next Wednesday (USA). The logic is that a user can then jump right into the game, the second the clock ticks over to 12:01am without having to wait for anything to download and install.