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Brain Zoo Animates Stratego Board Game

Brain Zoo Studios collaborated with Spin Master to create a dynamic story that pushes the creative boundaries for the latest rendition of the classic board game Stratego.

Announcement from Brain Zoo Studios:

Brain Zoo Studios and Spin Master recently collaborated on a web trailer for Milton Bradley's Stratego, working together to create a dynamic story that pushes the creative boundaries for the latest rendition of the classic board game.

Pre-Visualizations & Storyboarding

Conceptualization for the project was a mix of existing and original ideas. Environments such as the fortress interior, exterior, and the objects within it, were all created from scratch, taking elements from various industrial, futuristic, and militaristic settings as reference. Given only a script and the board game to work with, Brain Zoo went wild creating all the concepts, storyboards, models, animatics, and layouts to move the project along at a brisk pace.

Check out the making-of video that demonstrates Brain Zoo’s design process on select shots of the Stratego trailer, from storyboards to final render:

Shots The use of choreography to orchestrate how the soldiers would engage each other, and how the Red scout would zip through this skirmish on his hover bike was a topic that needed multiple stages of approval. Luckily, with some expert control over of the camera, Brain Zoo’s team found a way to manipulate both the combat shots between armies and the scout’s ultimate flight path in a way that actually cut down on production time, while also expanding the battleground to seem larger than life.

Facial geometry and textures for the characters were captured using a Next Engine 3D laser scanner.

The other animation-heavy shot included the Red scout diving and crashing on the ground after the missile explosion. Since motion capture cannot recreate the scene without injuring the actor, all of the work had to be done by hand. In that case, careful consideration had to be given to make the model crash, land, and roll to a stop with realistic physics. The major concern for this shot was to make sure the scout would land in such a way where the impact would not kill him outright in the animation process.


The trailer features a new addition to Brain Zoo’s arsenal – Next Engine’s 3D facial scanning technology - which captures facial expressions to allow the characters to speak and interact with each other in an emotional way. Brain Zoo also held internal auditions with artists, animators, and Technical Directors to appear as soldiers in the Stratego universe. For this trailer, Maya, Mudbox, Motion Builder (in conjunction with PhaseSpace LED MoCap), Photoshop, After-Effects and Maya Composite were used.

The Numbers The project took seven weeks to complete, clocking in at just over one terabyte in file size. The count totaled 20 artists working on 40 different visual effects, along with 30 vehicles and 400 soldiers; all of which needed to be created, modeled, textured and composited in time for the board game’s release. The trailer consisted of 640 shots with a total run time of 02:08:27.

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.