The lights are on
After falling off the radar for several years, Techland's Dead Island made a splash last week with a heartwrenching announcement trailer that followed a family and their fight for survival against a bloodthirsty zombie horde. The video was created by Glasgow-based animation house Axis that worked with publisher Deep Silver for the trailer's direction. Dead Island's trailer shows that violence and death discriminates against no one, as we watch a little girl get consumed by a virus that ultimately leads to her downfall. The shocking cinematic was impressive and groundbreaking for some, while others found that the violent content and lack of gameplay was distasteful and potentially misleading. We caught up with Deep Silver cinematic designer, Anton Borkel, who tells us about the trailer's creation process, inspirations, the decision and controversy surrounding the zombification of a child, and explains that while the trailer doesn't exactly show gameplay footage, there are some hints on what to expect.
How did you come up with the concept for the Dead Island trailer?This was actually a long process. When I joined the project, Axis had already developed several ideas. Some elements were already in place at that time -- for example, the little girl as a character was in most of the drafts early on. The idea behind it changed quite a bit though. Ultimately, we focused on challenging the audience and putting in twists and turns as we went along. There were many heated discussions on how well the audience might react to a rather complex trailer structure, but in the end we all felt that this could actually work. By reversing some of the content in the trailer, we not only get to see interesting and surreal/gruesome scenery, but we also leave the viewer on a different note than many other trailers: showing a peaceful world, something worth fighting for.Viewers drew comparisons between the trailer and LOST or Memento. What inspired the direction of the video? Did you look into other game trailers for inspiration?I can't deny that I'm a huge fan of Mr. Nolan's work, but you cannot compare a full feature film with a 3-minute trailer or the other way around. In this case, the main sources of inspiration were short films and music. I know that Stu Aitken and the guys from Axis expanded their field of view much further, to some Dutch paintings for example. I remember at one point talking about a ballet or dance to describe the look we wanted to go for in the trailer. We really tried to look to sources outside of other game trailers for inspiration, and by the way, I’m one of the few humans on earth who hasn’t seen Lost, but I heard it’s brilliant. The music in the trailer struck just as big of an emotional chord as the visuals. Can you tell us about the accompanying music and the trailer’s overall audio direction?Interestingly enough, Axis and Deep Silver had a very similar approach to the audio direction, and we settled on a style and tempo for music pretty early on. We wanted the audio to work as a supplemental force to the different emotions of the piece, mainly fast/intense/sharp sound design for the violent chase sequence and dramatic/beautiful music by Savalas as a counterpoint to increase the “juxtaposition between beauty and horror” theme of the trailer even more. We really felt like this was the only way to go, but then again, lots of fans are showing their own take on the arrangement by putting some great re-cut versions online.
What do you think about the re-cut versions?I
think it’s a chance for people to see even more detail in the
characters and the brilliant sequences Axis put together. While we
certainly set out to create something that isn’t “gimmicky,” having so
many people re-reversing and rearranging the piece definitely shows a
high level of interest by the community, and we are thrilled that so
many have taken their own spin and interpretation to the piece.
For more on Dead Island, check out our preview.