To promote the launch of Mass Effect 3, in which gamers must (again) save Earth from alien attackers, Electronic Arts hired ad agency DraftFCB to make a live-action trailer for the launch.The ad shows San Francisco, Vatican City and parts of China being destroyed by spaceships as humans panic helplessly in the streets. It’s intended to make the game feel more like a movie.
But while it’s easy to capture computer-generated scenes from a video game and edit them into a 30-second ad, it’s harder to make that look like an epic piece of cinematic storytelling that might appeal to a wider audience than sofa-bound young men.
So the agency went to lengths to make the live-action ad as real as possible, and to limit the amount of game-generated animation. Here’s how they did it.
DraftFCB chose to shoot in Prague because it has a range of old and new architecture, with neighborhoods that could double as Hong Kong and Vatican City.
In this opening scene, the man and the rooftop he's standing on are real. And that's 'real' fake snow falling on him. The cityscape behind him is computer generated, based on imagery from the game.
In the next scene, the apartment in which a frightened family watches TV was built on a stage next to the snowy rooftop.
This riot in 'Poland' is real, including the loose horse. The billboard in the background advertises Tupari energy drink -- a product in the game.
The signs say things like 'Casey's Deli' (Casey Hudson is the game's executive producer); a massage parlor has a sign that says 'Massage Effect'; and there's an ad for 'Space Hamsters,' an ongoing joke inside the game.
Although it appears that hundreds of people are fleeing the destruction in China, it's actually just a couple of dozen extras doing laps through another intersection in Prague. The background is computer generated.
The agency thought this scene might be controversial because it shows God failing to protect his flock.
The roof collapse was achieved by dropping a couple of hundred pounds of grey powder on the extras. The agency had only one chance to get this shot.
This scene was created from an actual photograph of San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge shot from the Marin Headlands.
In this scene, Commander Shepard, the game hero, takes on the aliens on the streets of San Francisco.
In reality, the street was an abandoned railyard in Prague. Most of the close-up debris and explosions in the scene are real.
The combat armour worn by the stuntman playing Shepard, and his weapon, is real -- they're made of fibreglass.
The agency says the armour is currently being kept in its San Francisco office.
Title: Fight for Everything
Client: Electronic Arts, Mass Effect 3
Agency: Draftfcb, San Francisco
Chief Creative Officer: Chris Ford
Group Creative Director: Tony Vazquez
Group Creative Director: Colin McRae
Assoc Creative Director: Derrick Ho
Assoc Creative Director: Jake Slody
Art Director: Alyssa Collis
Copywriter: Will Decher
Senior Producer: Jeremy Arth
Production Company: Caviar Content
Director: Reynald Gresset
Executive Producer: Michael Sagol, Jasper Thomlinson
Line Producer: Louis Saint-Calbre
DOP: Patrick Duroux
Production Service: Unit+Sofa
Executive Producer: Fady Salame
Line Producer: Petra Ondrickova
Editor: Russell Icke
Assistant Editor Brandon Porter
Senior Producer: Kristin Branstetter
Visual Effects: Mill London
Executive Producer: Will Cohen
Animation Director: Jean-Claude Deguara
Finishing: Mill LA
Head of Production: Arielle Davis
Colorist: Adam Scott
Sound Design: Ren Klyce/Mit Out Sound
Audio Mix: Michael Semanick/ Skywalker Sound
Audio Mix: Rohan Young/Lime Studios
Music: Human Worldwide
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