The Father and Son Cinematic Trailer for God of Conflict Ragnarök

Lately, recreation trailers poker online have generated nearly the identical degree of pleasure because the video games they promote. They’re typically thought-about artistic endeavors in themselves, with their very own distinctive storylines and artistic approaches. 

With such a brief run time, cinematic recreation trailers should captivate and immerse audiences within the recreation’s universe shortly with high-end visuals and music. 

At Goodbye Kansas Studios, we’ve created profitable cinematic trailers for notable video games similar to CD Undertaking Pink’s Cyberpunk 2077, Murderer’s Creed: Valhalla, and Ubisoft’s Cranium and Bones. 

Extra just lately, we have been approached by AKQA to create the cinematic trailer for Sony and Santa Monica Studios’ newly launched action-adventure recreation, God of Conflict Ragnarök.

This was an thrilling alternative for us, and we have been eager to discover the epic journey for the sport’s viewers, telling the story of its protagonist, Kratos, and his son, Atreus, as they embark on a journey to meet Atreus’ mom’s final want. 

We created breathtaking environments, from snow-covered mountains to intense motion scenes. All of those contribute to the compelling narrative informed in a brief, twenty-three-second sequence comprising simply six pictures. 

It was a chance to exhibit the complete potential of our newly developed pipeline primarily based on Common Scene Description (USD), using a mixture of cutting-edge applied sciences, together with developments in 3D, facial animation, and movement seize, to carry cinematic life to the God of Conflict universe.

Written by:

Alexis Andersson, CG Supervisor
Henrik Eklundh, VFX Supervisor


All of it begins with an concept. We have been approached by AKQA with an idea for the trailer and requested to assist carry it to life. Beginning off with the preliminary idea, the Goodbye Kansas group, led by director Fredrik Löfberg, created a storyboard to behave as our information – one thing to indicate key pictures that will be replicated within the trailer together with moments and tone to meet. 

We turned that right into a 3D previz to supply higher readability of what the ultimate narrative would seem like. In the meantime, our Artwork Division, guided by Artwork Director Gustaf Holmsten, labored to create stylistic ideas which might be visually like-for-like to what you’ll count on to see within the remaining image. These preliminary type frames have been signed off by the shopper and have become a helpful basis for the group to reference all through the mission.

Movement seize 

With the previz signed-off, our subsequent step was to plan and execute a movement seize shoot. Mocap know-how gives a unbelievable technique for producing character actions quickly – actually capturing the efficiency of an actor relatively than hand animating a sequence body by body. We have been ready to make use of particular person strikes, sections, or set items inside our animation software program. 

We shot this part through the pandemic, which posed an apparent problem. Often, the shoot would happen in Stockholm on our in-house movement seize stage. However, because of difficulties flying the actors over, half the group headed to Sony’s Santa Monica Studio stage whereas the remaining dialed in remotely. It meant we may go the place the actors have been and make sure the security of our solid and crew, all of the whereas figuring out that Sony was arrange for high-fidelity movement seize that will work in our animation course of. 

Regardless of the challenges, the shoot went easily, with beneficial enter from Santa Monica’s animation director, Bruno Velazquez, who gave steering on how Kratos ought to swing his axe and transfer in battle.  This allowed us to work intently with abilities to breathe life into the characters. 

For this shoot, we have been lucky to have the ability to work with Tremendous Alloy, the identical group that additionally did a number of mocap for the sport itself. This lowered the time wanted to grasp the characters, and we may deal with what we would have liked for the trailer particularly.

Following the session, the mocap knowledge was reviewed, and a spherical of alternatives was chosen. The administrators picked what motion they wished to be included, which was then inputted into movement modifying and animation software program in order that there was a cohesive timeline to begin with.

Character, setting, and asset constructing

One of many largest challenges of the mission was guaranteeing that Kratos and Atreus matched the likeness to the sport characters. We had the unique recreation property and sculpts from Santa Monica Studios, which we transformed and used as a base from which the group may create refined cinematic variations. 

Our facial rigs are of the best commonplace, and we hold pushing their improvement to make sure we keep forward of the competitors for digital people. 

To make sure the characters resembled those from the sport however with increased high quality, we have been meticulous in regards to the particulars. We underwent a number of rounds of suggestions to make sure that they appeared precisely like the sport characters and that they matched and remained true to the sport. 

We wished to make sure that followers of the sport have been happy with the consequence, and we went to nice lengths to make it possible for the Santa Monica Studios was pleased with the ultimate consequence.

Utilizing Maya, Blender, and ZBrush, the group constructed our 3D fashions. These have been then rigged utilizing Maya and our proprietary facial animation toolset. The characters’ our bodies have been animated in MotionBuilder, with the movement seize knowledge being pulled in. 

Facial animation on a mission like that is essential. It must be plausible as an individual whereas sustaining the sense of the world they’re in. Our facial animation group labored meticulously to match Kratos’ distinctive look in all elements of animation by learning the movement actor’s efficiency, tweaking and perfecting in Maya, and utilizing Substance Painter to use textures.

That is additionally the place the flexibility of the USD pipeline comes into play. We have been in a position to iterate faster within the group, and everybody may observe the progress in a brand new manner, which empowered possession and strengthened inventive output and velocity. 

As soon as finalized, the property have been printed as a USD file and opened in and opened in Solaris, which is the context inside Houdini for constructing, format, lighting, and rendering primarily based on the USD framework. It’s right here {that a} look improvement artist took the printed characters and utilized groom and textures. 

We additionally used V-Ray shader for the look dev of the sequences, which have been then layered on prime of the characters. These components, mixed with the rig and a simulation FX mesh, have been layered on prime of one another to create a personality bundle. 

Digital camera info and animation have been additionally printed into USD as an animation cache. And, due to USD, we’re in a position to edit any side of this stack with out having to transform subsequent sections.

FX, lighting, and compositing 

Lighting is what units the temper of the shot, whereas FX provides a fantastical factor to the scene. Compositing takes the 3D output and makes positive a scene seems to be as sensible and delightful as it may be. Our lighting artists have been supplied with a template, often known as a ‘node tree’ in Solaris, and labored on completely different components that have been break up out into render passes. 

These passes have been then despatched to the farm to create a collection of 2D photos. Earlier than lighting, simulations for character and creature results have been carried out on the animation cache, and all of the ensuing results have been layered over the animation to create a remaining output. 

USD primarily treats every edit or part as a layer with overrides – one on prime of one other till you’ve your remaining consequence.

The trailer’s opening shot proved to be one of many extra technically difficult elements, with a number of shifting components. From Norse creatures (draugrs) lined in lava to smoke and snow, it was essential to seize all elements of the scene to convey what was taking place. 

For example, the group paid consideration to element in exhibiting footprints within the snow. Although most viewers could not discover this, it was important to make sure that all components labored collectively. It’s the artwork of together with refined particulars that actually promote a shot – you may not discover that footprints are there, however you undoubtedly would if it wasn’t. Explosions, fireplace, smoke, snow within the air, and embers from the draugrs, have been all created in Houdini with the identical consideration to element. 

Lighting is the final step earlier than 3D will get remodeled and rendered right into a 2D picture. The work from all departments will get mixed right into a single usd file which the lighting division then splits up into completely different renders. Then they get despatched to the farm or cloudfarm the place 3D photos get remodeled right into a 2D exr picture for the compositing group to select up.

God of Conflict has some heavy pictures to work with, together with characters, snow, smoke, and fireplace, multi function place, which might have been intense to render. We would have liked to make sure that these completely different components have been break up up into separate outputs and layered like items of a puzzle. 

The compositing group did an incredible job of guaranteeing that each one rendered elements labored collectively seamlessly, particularly in tweaking the completely different elements to attain the heavy snowstorm impact.

Rendering and grading cross

Solaris in Houdini is our chosen device to create property and scenes, and we render these out from Solaris utilizing V-Ray. 

Firstly of a mission, we all the time talk about the constancy goal and goal of the trailer. As a part of this, real-time rendering or not is without doubt one of the huge selections. We’re specialised in each paths and perceive the challenges and completely different workflows that must be utilized for every, but in addition to have the ability to talk concerning the ultimate constancy bar. 

We would have liked each body to be excellent, which is why we use offline rendering – on this case, Chaos’ V-Ray. 

Lastly, our colourists do a grading cross in DaVinci Resolve to attain the specified really feel for the ultimate sequence. As soon as the grading cross is full, the footage is exported to be used and delivered to the shopper for the world to see.

In realizing the cinematic trailer for God of Conflict Ragnarök, the Goodbye Kansas group used a variety of various applied sciences, together with 3D, facial animation, and movement seize, to create breathtaking environments and a compelling narrative sequence.

Whereas we’ve created quite a few recreation trailers prior to now, it was a difficult activity to inform a compelling story and embody all of the important components in a brief timeframe. 

Nevertheless, from a technical standpoint, the method was easy. Using superior software program instruments in our newly-developed USD pipeline, together with Houdini’s Solaris and V-Ray, enabled the group to create gorgeous 3D scenes and render them effectively. The compositing work utilizing Nuke then seamlessly built-in completely different components to attain a cohesive and dramatic visible expertise. 

General, the trailer is a testomony to what’s potential with a well-thought-out pipeline alongside our group’s experience and artistic course. We’re proud to have delivered a visually gorgeous and emotionally partaking trailer that captivates the viewers.

Behind the Scenes 

About Goodbye Kansas Studios

Goodbye Kansas Studios presents award-winning and uniquely built-in providers for characteristic movies, TV collection, commercials, video games and recreation trailers. Experience contains VFX, FX, CG productions, 3D face & physique scanning, digital people, creature & character design, efficiency seize, animation and real-time methods. The corporate, with a workers of 250+ is a part of Goodbye Kansas Group AB (publ), listed on the Nasdaq First North Progress Market and with studios and places of work in Stockholm, London, Helsinki, Vilnius, Belgrade, Beijing, and Los Angeles.