To create cutscenes based on developer’s scripts and improve the existing ones within tight deadlines. The tough part was that there were things we couldn’t touch, so we had to work within some serious constraints. As we couldn’t merely deliver a ready-made video, we had to help the developers implement the cutscenes inside the game. This was way more difficult, but don't worry — we had a blast doing it!
Our story with Gollum began a little earlier when we were working on the announcement trailer for the game. When the Nacon team approached us again to create the cutscenes, we were already familiar with the lore, and it was very helpful.
Сutscenes are a crucial part of any game. Even if they don't define the entire gaming experience, neglecting them can definitely downgrade the overall quality. The cutscenes serve as storytelling moments and they should never be dull. Think of them as movies tailored for gamers. In our work we tried to think through everything to the smallest detail and drew some inspiration from Peter Jackson’s directorial approach.
If a scene wasn't ready or was put together hastily, we created storyboards where we meticulously developed the key scenes, framing compositions, camera angles and camera movements. Only after a thorough director’s planning, the UE artists started working on the rough drafts, carefully selecting the right lenses, tweaking character’s animations and arranging the placement of all the objects within the frame. And only then, did we move on to lighting, detailing and all the magic needed to achieve a cinematic look and feel.
To undertake a project of such magnitude, we had to adopt an entirely new production approach. We leveraged Notion and developed our own customized database system to monitor the progress and keep track of daily updates. Throughout the project, we made more than 400 edits in our attempt to make everything look flawless. Everyone recognized the significance of 24/7 real-time progress tracking and effective communication.
Sometimes, correcting something that has already been done can be far more challenging than starting from scratch. A lot of our work relied heavily on the capabilities of the game engine. It wasn't easy to achieve flawless character animation and perfect facial expressions in Unreal Engine 4, so, we had to be creative.
Additionally, within our team, we even created a special guide that outlined the camera lenses that should be used for different scenes. If we wanted to showcase the grandeur of a location, we would use a wide-angle lens. When we wanted to capture the moments during character dialogue, we used a telephoto lens with a longer focal length and adjusted camera angles to play with the focus effectively. These tricks and clever approaches with lenses helped us conceal some of the Engine's limitations and make the shots more cinematic.