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Squeaky Wheel recently announced that the school management game Academia: School Simulator will soon be graduating from Early Access. To hype the announcement, I wanted to create two trailers, one for the announcement of version 1.0 and one for the actual release. The first trailer was released this week. This can be seen above. Creating a game trailer is an important part of game marketing and there is a lot of online debate about how to do it, the cost and more. Many indie developers know they don’t really have much, so I have money to spend on trailers, so share my process here and see what it looks like to build your own trailer I thought I would give them an idea.
To be clear, I know this trailer isn’t the best, and it’s not going to be compared to the best. But it’s a pretty good trailer, very affordable and made with relatively little skill.
The first step is to conceptualize the trailer. This means figuring out what you want to see in the trailer and creating an outline that you can follow while actually editing the video. Here’s what my concept document looks like. Here’s a little cheating. My original docs are much looser than this, so I went back a bit and fixed it to make it look more disciplined.
You can keep it pretty simple. Alternatively, if you have an artistic tendency and the concept is very complex, you can also create a storyboard. I did it both ways. The important thing is to help you understand your ideas so that you have some direction in the video. In this announcement video, I wanted to keep it pretty simple. I used what Derek Lieu calls a music video montage as a template. Basically, it means cutting the video to the background music. This is usually better done in action games, but it can work in more chill simulation games.
Perfecting custom music is great, but it can be creatively time consuming, especially if you don’t know what you want. Based on this trailer by Mole’s Another Brick, I had a general idea of what I wanted. I wanted something that sounded classic, had an uplifting feel, and had a relatively high bpm. Basically I was looking for a modest excitement. I also needed something that was slowly built and released quietly (sorry because I don’t know how to speak music!) And I needed about a minute, which is the standard recommended length for trailers.
After scrutinizing a number of royalty-free music websites, I arrived at this track with Stephen Keech’s Sound Stripe. It had everything I wanted, with one exception that it was two minutes long. However, there was a part that ended in 1 minute, so I decided to fade out in 1 minute according to my needs. The license costs $ 39.95 per track. Soundstripe may have promotions that are well worth the money to buy access to a year’s license. The composers for the next trailer are already in line, so I’m glad I took only one song.
I used the free tool Audacity to edit the track in one minute.
Recording video clips
Now that you have music, record a video clip. Having created some trailers for the game before, I was able to focus on recording some important clips instead of having to record all the new material. You can use OBS to record video or spend a little extra ($ 37) to download Fraps. Here are some broad tips for recording video clips:
Make sure you have enough hard drive space and record the maximum resolution possible to make your video look good.
Whenever possible, try to capture in-game movement. The one-minute trailer requires people’s attention, and the easier way to do it is no better than movement. Even in games like us with little action, you can make fake movements by slowly panning and tracking the camera to make the player feel like they are moving.
Depending on the game, it may be useful to have a button that allows you to hide the UI.
Add camera controls to your game so you can set the camera scroll speed so you can choose to emphasize the speed (for excitement) or slow down the camera (for drama or visualization). It’s also helpful to be able to lock the camera into the scene. Without this feature, I was a little confused by the video of a worker building a school. It’s barely noticeable, but it’s very annoying to me!
edit a picture
At least basic image editing is required to create logos, sprites, etc. for trailers. You probably didn’t add to the trailer cost because you already have all these assets if you’re writing a game, but just add them here in case you need to say.
Video editing software
Next is video editing! Adobe Premiere is the standard for video editing, but when I was cutting a previous trailer, I found this nice software called PowerDirector. It does everything a trailer needs and costs only $ 19.99 a month and $ 48.99 a year. It’s like $ 4 a month for 12 months. I wanted to make two trailers, so getting an annual subscription makes perfect sense. But for your purposes, you should be able to learn everything you need to know and release a trailer in a month.
I can’t explain how to use Powerdirector in one article. Therefore, the next part of the article assumes that you already understand the general usage of video editing software. What I’m trying to explain is how to use transitions in a video to create a moment that is pleasing to the viewer’s eyes.
In the opening scene, I did a little cheat. It’s been dug into every gamedev that you shouldn’t put your logo within the first few seconds of the trailer, as no one cares about your logo. I agree to some extent, but in a smart way, I think it’s worth imprinting the game’s name on the viewer within the first few seconds.
In my case, the first concept of the trailer opening was to slide the bus from the right to “drop off” some characters and then move off screen to start “building” the school. did. This suggests the beginning of school and ends with the end of the character’s return home after a long school day. At some point before starting the trailer, I realized that I could hit the academia logo on the side of the bus. It works because it makes sense in the context of the universe. The side of the bus is often engraved with a logo. The logo goes in and out of the scene in less than two seconds, so it’s not over-welcome. However, players who watch the first five seconds of the trailer will at least remember that the game is called “Academia Something”.
Jump cut and build
A jump cut is a transition that simulates jumping before time. This is perfect for the trailer section that boasts of the building. It stimulates the viewer’s eyes by showing off something “new” with each successive jump cut. This is especially useful for building and managing games, as it actually sells the idea of building something from nothing. This attracts many players in this genre.
Transitions and contrasts
In art composition, contrast is one of the main techniques artists use to emphasize or emphasize artwork. It is the contrast between light and dark colors, or warm and cold colors that helps the artwork visually “pop”. The same principle can be used for transitions. The first few scenes begin by showing a zoomed-in view and selling “build” ideas using jump cuts.
As the music moves from a fast pace to a slower, slower pace (more on that below), it then moves to the zoomed-out screen of a huge school, slowly tracking the video upwards. This is in line with the pace of the music, but more importantly, it’s built from the first few scenes that show aspects of building the game to the “see how much you can build” scene. It’s the contrast between a small zoomed-in school and a huge zoomed-out school that really pitches the idea of game scale.
Transitions and music
Another easy way to get the viewer’s attention is to combine sounds and transitions. This screenshot I took shows how I did it. Note that each transition (marked with an “A” icon) is placed at the exact moment when the amplitude of the audio waveform increases. When listening to music, the increase is a percussion bang. When that bang is combined with a visual transition on the screen, it causes joy in the viewer’s pattern of recognizing the brain.
Off-topic: While researching the proper terminology for audio, I found this absolutely amazing interactive website that explains how waveforms work.
Wipe transitions and movements
He mentioned the importance of finding some movement to put in the trailer. This can be combined with a “wipe” transition to track camera movement and create a pleasing effect for the viewer’s eyes.
While I was filming the video, I had a moment of inspiration here. My original intention was to simply fade the screen to black to signal the end of the day as a trailer contrast starting in the “morning” and a natural end point. However, while capturing the trailer video, I noticed that it was nighttime and there was one caretaker on the way home from school. I paused the game and expanded this scene. It felt like a great way to end the trailer with a moving note. Everyone goes home, the trailer is over, and the game development is over. So I caught it and put it in the trailer. Even if you make a lot of plans during the conceptualization phase, it’s important that you’re still open at these coincidental moments.
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