Glasgow-based CG animation studio collaborates with Canadian game developer Relic Entertainment to create a trailer for the launch of ‘Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III.’
Arriving six years after its last release, the game is the latest addition to the sci-fi/fantasy real-time strategy Dawn of War video game series developed by Relic Entertainment and based on Games Workshop’s popular table-top wargame, Warhammer 40,000.
Director Abed Abonamous worked closely with the Relic team to stay true to the established Warhammer 40,000 and Dawn of War lore while continuing to push the boundaries of the art style.
“In game trailers, there is always a balance between daring art and commonplace expectations,” Abonamous explains. “Often, the art side takes second place to the expectations, it’s usually a safer bet to rely on what is already known to please the audience. With this trailer, both Relic and Axis consciously treaded off the beaten path as often as possible. The hope is not so much to displace more conventional types of trailer as it is to stand out as a beautiful and appealing alternative.”
With the concept of death as its narrative the trailer begins with a dark mass of a structure set in a bleak, hazy landscape. From here the film doesn’t focus on a single character’s story, but instead concentrates on the entwined narratives of all the characters and factions with no beginning or end, and loops visually back to the beginning reinforcing the never ending cycle of death in this grim dark universe.
The style is heavily influenced by the works of the Polish surrealist painter Zdzisław Beksiński. Large areas of hazy smoke mixed with sections of highly detailed structure. In terms of composing the shots, Axis avoided big sweeping camera moves and often opted for flat layouts that signify static paintings.
The soundtrack builds on the bizarre atmosphere of the piece, composed by Ivor Novello-nominated Scottish composer Paul Leonard-Morgan, who is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after film composers in the U.S. and U.K. The subdued, epic piece fuses orchestra with electronica, and the distorted bass lines create vague and distant tribal elements.
“‘A surreal lucid nightmare’ was in the first line of Abed’s treatment and Relic were brave enough to embrace this vision,” said Axis executive producer Debbie Ross. “The purity of the original idea combined with the essential Warhammer 40,000 elements was a balance we had to get right and Relic and Games Workshop helped steer our team to find that sweet spot. It’s both challenging and rewarding to have the chance to create something so unique in an established and cherished universe.”