Full indie 2016 : Mixed reality trailers

Making a good trailer for VR games is hard. The fisheye two views or first person videos of gameplay don’t reflect what VR gaming feels like, and showing a player in their dirty room doesn’t help. Sony has this cool virtual headmount concept, which is cool, but honestly, is no where near the real experience either.

In his talk, Kert Gartner shares with us how the mixed reality trailers for Fantastic contraptions and Job simulator convey VR’s engaging experience.

After watching the trailers, both appear to be a funny mix between real life and in game footage. They show the player inside the VR environment, the player in his living room, interacting with the game’s interactive elements. More subtly, they show the player in game represented as an avatar, using a “real world” camera.

This seems like the best way to convey the feeling of how it is to play in virtual reality.

To make a successfull trailer requiresattention to details

Playing Performing the game

First of all, the player can’t just play. Whoever is recorded playing the game hs to perform the game. Playing is boring, players might have fun, but not look like they’re having fun. You can’t play the game half-asses, you need to make it a show.

Plan ahead what the player is going to demo, and how he’s going to do it. Shooting the scene is usually a one day job, and you want to know how to use that time most efficiently.

Playing un-naturally to convey the natural experience

Body langage is very important, gestures often need to be exagerated to look like they’re fun. To look natural, they sometimes need to be very un-natural.

For example, in Job simulator, the player needs to be crouching in a funny way with hands above the head for the in-game footage to look compelling. Playing naturally would mean the player’s hands are never on camera and viewers wouldn’t get what’s happening. In real life, players don’t need to look at their hands or what they’re doing all the time to knwo what they’re doing.

Smooth out head movement from the player viewpoint

Players make a lot of head movements that feel natural to them, but can create motion sickness for viewers. It’s important for in-game footage to pay attention to the head movements. Even when carefully deciding where to look and moving one’s head as smoothly as possible, a lot of it will still be there, small and unconscious. It’s important to take the time to smooth out any unwnted head movement.

Using costumes

To reflect how the player feels a part of the game, using costumes and trained actors to perform the game – specially when it’s live – conveys the idea that the player feels really a part of the game. Dressing him up like his avatar really makes it feel like he belongs inside the game.

Camera tricks and recording advice

Invest in quality gear

It requires to invest in some gear to get a high quality trailer. The lens of the camera you use makes a huge difference in the quality of integration with the in-game footage. You can use standard gear, but it won’t look nearly as good.

Quality gear doesn’t only mean a great camera, but also equipment to reduce camera movement and smooth them out. Looking at professional gear can get quite expensive here too.

HTC vive / unity mixed reality solutions

If you’re shooting a trailer for a game using HTC Vive, Unity gives the option to use a third controller on a camera. This technique is used to render the game from the same viewpoint as the physical camera recording the player in his living room – on in front of his green screen. Then, get ready for hours of after effects and video editing to make everything fit perfectly together.

Steam VR mixed reality solutions

Steam VR also offers a solution to record the trainer with a camera on a third controller. Their solution removes the need for lengthy video editing to get a pixel eprfect result. The steam solution, while faster and more convenient, does not give the same pixel erpfect result. It does track an alpha and uses clipping to merge the real life and in-game footage, which doesn’t give a perfect result.

Future solutions to look forward to

Upcoming pixel per pixel depth sorting solutions promise this pixel perfection, and would also allow players to seamlessly reach over in game elements. Players could even be affected by in-game lighting to make the final result look even more smooth.

That’s definitely something to look forward to !