Search form

Reel FX Explores Alternate History in Animated Trailer for ‘Prey’

Reel FX director Barrett Lewis teams with digital agency AKQA to direct alternate history in-game animated trailer for new sci-fi/horror video game title from Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Studios.

Dallas, TX-based digital studio Reel FX director Barrett Lewis recently oversaw the creation of an intriguing promotional animated short for Bethesda Softworks’ upcoming sci-fi horror video game Prey. “The History of TranStar” depicts decades of orbital mystery by masquerading as a classified leak from the fictional TranStar company’s archives. This archival footage-disguised marketing narrative describes a history full of counterfactuals, from the cold war-era discovery of the hostile alien lifeform Typhon, to the debut of refurbished, TranStar-owned space station Talos I.

The discovery of a hostile lifeform during a manned Soviet mission begets a U.S.-Soviet collaboration gone-wrong. In this alternate history, President Kennedy survives to seize control of the space station, which is ultimately acquired by TranStar. The video ends with the implication of a transhuman future, where the game presumably begins.

Lewis also composed original music for the short, combining his lifelong experience as a musician and his decades of animation expertise into a cohesive cinematic product: “Having the opportunity to write the music for the piece afforded me a unique creative viewpoint, allowing me to let both the animation and music inform one another as the piece took form,” he said. “I was able to connect the dots in a way that an outside composer likely would not have had the chance to do, and it made it all the more fun!”

Lewis worked closely with digital agency AKQA to bring a retro, 2D-cartoon aesthetic to the piece that stylistically evolves as the piece progresses. The Reel FX team crafted the character design for the trailer, leveraging their in-house feature artists to deliver a defined motif. Lewis then carefully developed an arc that unfolds through color, camera, design and music changes, progressing from 50s Space Race-style, to the futuristic look of cosmic 2035.

Reel FX develops and produces short form content and virtual reality experiences. Reel FX’s first full-length animated feature, Free Birds, was released by Relativity Media in 2013 and grossed over $110 million worldwide. Reel FX VR has developed interactive experiences and 360° narrative content for organizations like 20th Century Fox, GMC, Acura, American Express, AT&T, Frito Lay, GE, Legendary Pictures, Lionsgate, Porsche, Samsung, Shinola and the U.S. Air Force.

Developed by Arkane Studios, creators of the critically-acclaimed game Dishonored 2, the rated-M Prey launched worldwide for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on May 5th. A free Prey demo is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One that allows fans to board Talos I and play the opening hour of the game.

Source: Reel FX

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.