The Darkness II, the sequel to 2K Games' popular videogame The Darkness won't hit stores until October 4 in North America, but gamers will be clamoring for the new title once they view the haunting teaser trailer that the game's agency g-NET produced in collaboration with Blind.
Press Release from Blind
The Darkness II, the sequel to 2K Games' popular videogame The Darkness won't hit stores until October 4 in North America, but gamers will be clamoring for the new title once they view the haunting teaser trailer that the game's agency g-NET produced in collaboration with Blind. The studio, led by CD Mark Bellncula and EP Nick Litwinko, worked with g-NET to create a preview of protagonist Jackie Estacado's supernatural-assisted quest for retribution.
The spot is a fleeting CG masterpiece designed to evoke the grit and narrative of the The Darkness franchise without betraying any details of the latest installment. Replete with smoke and embers, the teaser first presents a hazy beating heart, then draws a parade of nightmarish images that correspond with a foreboding narrative. "It's been two years since I killed the men responsible for Jenny's murder..." Cut to a girl's head, dissolving with a gunshot and scream. "That was the last time I ever used the Darkness..." followed by a snake-like creature with eyes aglow like lava, that transforms into a human head with glowing eyes. "I keep it hidden inside me like some bag of ugly snakes..." the head dissolves into a pair of hideous serpents, who bat at one another before launching outward toward the screen. "But it wants out in the worst way."
"g-NET asked us to keep things mysterious, so our task was to create a visual story that says a bit about the new game without giving away any details about The Darkness II," noted Bellncula. "While the game is a stylistically violent, first-person shooter, we chose to use the iconic supernatural theme aspect of the franchise to guide the creative process. Using influences that ranged from Ridley Scott's Alien (in which viewers only see the antagonist in the last scene), to Carol Reed's noir classic The Third Man, storyboard artist Carlos Ancalmo and I devised the basic visual concept which we then developed and honed in collaboration with g-NET."
Blind took care of some pre-viz in After Effects and Cinema 4D. 2K Games provided Blind with game geometry and textures, which the studio had to up-rez with PCs running Maya to a working VFX standard and re-rig for their needs. They then blocked out the animation and lit, rendered and prepped the shots for compositing. Blind baked out the animated geometry so that they could run them through particle simulations, something they referred to as "smoking" a scene, which they accomplished in Maya and Fume FX (they also created custom geometry that they 'smoked' for use in the transitional moments between scenes). Once that was completed, the studio pieced together the traditionally rendered passes and the smoke passes.
"Aside from having to run every shot through a particle simulation, combining our simulated smoke passes and our practical smoke elements seamlessly into one environment really pushed us," noted Bellncula. "It took a while to figure out the rate of emissions in the smoke simulations that would work with the existing practical smoke footage, and even the practical footage had to be massaged into the scenes so that they worked with the simulated ones. Luckily, the solve was our best resource: our team of talented, detailed-oriented compositors."
Credits:Client: 2K GamesAgency: g-NETSpot: The Darkness II video game teaser :30
Production Company: BlindCreative Director: Mark BellnculaEP: Nick LitwinkoProducer: Sarah KraatzStoryboard Artist: Carlos AncalmoCharacter TD/modeling, rigging, character animation: Vadim KiyaevTexturing, character animation, modeling and rigging: Drew ArnoldLighting and Composting: Akira ThompsonParticle Design: Mothana HusseinCompositing: Quentin Below
About Blind:Blind, a multi-disciplinary design, motion graphics, animation, visual effects, live-action, editorial, print and broadcast design studio with offices in Santa Monica and NYC, taps into diverse intellectual and creative resources to come up with compelling results. Since 1995, Blind has been pushing beyond the expected, offering clients a new way to see with award-winning design. A few things remain constant amidst this design/production powerhouse's constant drive to reinvent itself: the abilities to engender surprise and produce projects from conception to reality.
Blind's creative team has built an uncommon level of respect in the advertising and entertainment communities via cutting-edge campaigns for brands such as Xbox, Showtime, Bright House Networks, DirecTV, OppenheimerFunds, McDonald's, Scion, and recording artists including Gnarls Barkley, The Raveonettes and Justin Timberlake to name a few. In 2010, Blind took home a Creative Arts Emmy for their work on The Raveonettes' Heart of Stone music video, as well as a Gold London International Award for the stunning Dr. Martens motion graphics piece, Lilac Wine.
About g-NET:g-NET is a creative agency with a specialized expertise in the use of content & entertainment as the foundation of marketing plans. With a primary focus on the videogame sector, g-NET actively works with all of the industry's leading videogame platforms, publishers, & developers. g-NET houses a full-service production company within its core, which has nearly a decade of experience in producing original entertainment for major TV & Web distributors. The agency's production capacity includes an unparalleled ability to manipulate, direct, & capture game-footage within our custom-built game-capture studio. g-NET's production capabilities mixed with our marketing functionality has yielded award-winning creative that consistently sets the bar within the games sector due to its innovation, creativity, & quality.