Game trailer brings Blade Runner bang up to date

Having previously collaborated on an acclaimed fully CG-animated trailer for CD Project Red’s The Witcher 2 (awards included a Golden Trailer), Warsaw-based CG and digital FX studio Platige Image has again teamed up with the game developer to create a teaser for a forthcoming major release. Cyberpunk 2077 is based on the Cyberpunk role-playing game series written by Mike Pondsmith.

The 3D game trailer was written and directed by Tomek Baginski at Platige Image. We caught up with Platige animation director Maciej Jackiewicz to talk to him about the project’s production.

Q: This is the second collaboration with game developer CD Projekt Red. How was it different to the previous time you worked on The Witcher 2 promo?

The main difference was that The Witcher 2 was a complete game with lots of concepts and finished assets available for us. Cyberpunk 2077, on the other hand, is in a very early stage of development. [The developer has said that it won’t be released until 2015 at the earliest.]

Q: Tell us a little bit about the trailer’s influences. It’s very Blade Runner-esque.

Blade Runner is certainly number one, and we’re also referencing the original Cyberpunk pen-and-paper game a lot. But Cyberpunk 2077 is a continuation set in a different time – technology is more advanced, fashion has changed. As much as we love Blade Runner, we couldn’t get too nostalgic.

The Cyberpunk 277 trailer was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott's 1982 movie Blade Runner

Q: Which tools formed your pipeline?

3ds Max and V-Ray were the core applications. V-Ray worked really well with the Ornatrix hair system, and allowed us to render characters and hair with the same lighting set-up. ZBrush was irreplaceable as a sculpting tool, especially when dealing withhigh- resolution scans. Nuke was our choice for compositing.

Q: How did your use of 3D scanning to create characters derived from real performers affect your approach to character work?

We used 3D scanning for the first time in production, and it changed the way we approached characters a lot. The fact that the girl, the main character, is based on a real person – with all her real qualities and flaws – adds a lot to the final image.

I thought that animation without actual character animation would be a lot easier to complete, but now I see that’s not always the case.

The main character is based on a real person, with all her real qualities and flaws, which adds a lot to the final image.

Q: How was the police ship modelled and composited into the scene? How far did it vary from the original concept?

This was one of a few concepts delivered by CD Projekt Red. We didn’t make many major changes – we all liked that this is an old-school design of a ship. As far as I remember, the model started as a ZBrush sculpt. At first, the ship was supposed to be barely visible in the scene, but at some point we decided to add the scanner, which wipes the whole crime scene. It automatically pushed the police vehicle into a more prominent role.

Q: Did you have to develop new techniques for the bullet-smashing effects?

We’ve done a lots of disintegration effects in CG already, such as the collapsing ship in the Witcher 2 trailer. We used the same tools and techniques for the bullets as we did for that – hand-keyed animation combined with Thinking Particles simulations and Fume.

The Platige Image team used hand-keyed animation combined with Thinking Particles simulations and Fume for the bullet-smashing effects

Q: Talk us through how you lit the scenes.

We used V-Ray for rendering, and the lighting was tweaked for each shot: it’s a combination of image-based lighting and dozens of area and rim lights. Some subtle relighting was also done in Nuke. In most of the shots, lights were slightly animated to add moving shadows and reflections, which bring more life to the static scene.

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 169

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