Into the Current
October 27, 2016
A new effort from Ottawa-based motion designers turns the book trailer concept on its head
Some publishers are using book trailers as a promotional tool to get audiences engaged and excited about a book release in the same way they might a movie.
So when Chris Moberg, motion designer at Ottawa agency McMillan, found out his colleague had written a book and envisioned a trailer for it, he decided to take it to the next level, turning it into a visually arresting piece that rivals any movie trailer.
Jared Young, a creative director at McMillan, worked on his new book Into the Current for 10 years before publishing it. It tells the story of a young traveller whose plane explodes—and, as he plunges toward his death, time freezes and the traveller revisits the decisions he’s made throughout his life.
Young provided references of film directors and titles he liked to Moberg and fellow McMillan colleague Jamie Muntean, who created the strobing title animations.
“Our day-to-day at McMillan is definitely more corporate, so an opportunity like this creates a lot of exciting work,” says Muntean, also a motion designer. “I don’t think it was Jared’s intention to push it to a level like that, but it’s a passion project, and as Chris started getting into it, it started to form and take on a life of its own.”
The result is a compelling 3D rendering of Into the Current’s pivotal narrative moment when the airplane disintegrates in midair. Detritus and personal belongings float through time and space, and the book’s main character (actually Young shot on green screen) crawls up his ejected seat as if to begin the reflections he will make throughout the book.
The finished trailer:
Moberg says the lure of learning new software is what excited him the most about the project. “At the beginning of the project, I wanted to reach a certain level of quality,” he says. “After doing a bit of digging and seeing what was out there in terms of book trailers, it confirmed for me that we should push this as much as possible.”
He used Octane Render for Cinema 4D along with software called Substance Painter to achieve the texture and lighting he needed on all of the 3D objects.
“I didn’t have time to model every aspect of this thing, so I purchased models, stripped them apart and retextured them,” says Moberg. “The model I found was meant for a plane crash on the ground, and the parts were scattered. So I had to reassemble the parts in the sky to make it look like it broke up in midair.”
“To make the fire and smoke in the plane shots believable, I also learned another plugin for Cinema 4D called Turbulence FD, which allows you to simulate fire and smoke effects in 3D. Because of the camera moves in each of the shots, 2D images of flames would have felt very fake,” he says. “I was able to simulate pieces of the plane burning and then choose a specific frame that could be frozen in time while the camera animated around the object.”
Check out this behind-the-scenes video:
He used a photography package of more than 400 photos of skies and clouds shot from an airplane. “From there, I would spend an hour or two to figure out which photo would be best suited for this particular shot, keeping in mind if the plane blew up how much above the cloud level it would be, and the debris would be below that cloud level,” says Moberg.
After separating each element into layers in Photoshop, Moberg then projected them onto 3D geometry to provide more depth. He tapped Jeff Moberg, a sound designer, to mix the audio.
The trailer recently premiered to a full crowd at a launch party at Ottawa’s Mayfair Theatre.
“That was a big payoff,” reflects Moberg. “You can send videos to friends and they’ll watch it, but you don’t know what kind of environment they are in to get the full effect. This way, we had 150 or 200 people in the room, it was blacked out, and the audio was the way it was supposed to be.”
“Personally, I’ve never seen a book trailer done to this level,” adds Muntean. “A project like this could create a need for this in the industry.”
Created by - Chris Moberg
Creative Director - Jared Young
Art Director - Chris Moberg
VFX / 3D / Animation - Chris Moberg
Title Animation / VFX - Jamie Muntean
Logo Animation / Design - Brendan Wilson
Sound Design / Final Mix - Jeff Moberg
Music - Silkken
Jamie Muntean, Brendan Wilson, Gaëlle Seguillon, Casey Tourangeau, Melani Hartley, Craig Lobban, Alex Roberts, William Tong