What I Learned From Interactive Friction Season 4

Season 4 was probably the first time I had a handle of things throughout the post-production process. Editing was really smooth and videos were posted regularly with only one mishap. Recording on the other hand was kind a nightmare.

We discussed in the video the problem we had wherein Shadowplay botched the video/audio sync (which it has done before and since), but there was also another audio problem that you may not have noticed. Long story short, my audacity didn’t record beyond the first few minutes during the couple of times I restarted it, and Brandon forgot to change his recording device from his crappy headset to his expensive desktop microphone. Luckily Brandon also told me to record our TeamSpeak audio before we started, and that’s what we ended up using.

So what I learned that I want to pass on first is: make backups. It’s much harder to do for video, but at least for audio, have your local Audacity recordings (which is ideal) and a Skype/TeamSpeak/mumble recorder, or have your video record your commentary as well if all else fails.

Splitting tracks leads me into something I didn’t go into for the Neptunia video, but part of the reason we made that was to test a new audio setup, which is my second piece of advice.

Split your audio tracks as much as possible whenever possible.

I could have made Seasons 1, 2, & 3 so much better had I know this at the time, and now that I’ve worked with separate audio tracks, I never want to go back. If you’ve got the time you can take out coughs and sneezes and minor problems, and if not you can at the very least level everyone’s audio to about the same volume.

Lastly, and this one is already super obvious to some people, a bit about post-production.

Upload and have as many videos ready to move from “unlisted/private” to “pubic” as possible.

For seasons 1 and 2 I rendered the videos the day of, and that turned out terribly. For Season 3 I thought I got smart and at least edited and rendered most of them beforehand, forgetting that YouTube takes a long time to upload. So for this season I uploaded about the first 6 episodes before we even announced the season. Aside from YouTube not letting me schedule multiple videos in advance for some reason, it worked out fantastically.

In the future I might do some “What I Learned” for the prior 3 seasons, but no promises. Until then, look forward to the next project we’re doing and Interactive Friction Season 5 after that.

Interactive Friction Season 4 & The Making Of A Trailer

After a longer break than I expected, but still appreciated, Interactive Friction has returned. This time however I’m going to work harder to keep on schedule, and I’ve already completed the first step by editing all the footage prior to this trailer going up. Additionally season 5’s raw footage is already mostly recorded, and the audio for our new project is primed for editing. The latter of these should be what to expect next from Brandon and I.

Now about the trailer. Since season 2 I’ve been making an effort to create “teaser” trailers for each upcoming season, though season 3 was the only one that was vague in any sense. Regardless I went with a style much more reminiscent of the Tomb Raider trailer, which is very movie-like in its structure. This time though I went another step further by using the cutscene audio wherein Faith sets up the universe, and that posed a novel challenge for me. For instance, when the helicopter blades come by, I had to find matching footage of a copter for that. Same with the footsteps as the music breaks in.

That aside, producing a trailer made me try and think more about how to engage someone and set up their expectations correctly. Since an average audience wants something interesting within the first few moments, I figured using quick cuts over Faith’s monologue would help keep things moving, with characters relevant to her lines appearing as a bit of foreshadowing for new viewers or a nod to previous players.

I also considered having the trailer start with Faith running down a relatively straight path with these moments cutting in when appropriate, because trying to match the flow and rhythm of the source material is another consideration.

Take for instance this Battlefield 4 fan-made trailer.

While it’s easy to dismiss this for it’s rather standard war movie framework, it’s also indicative of how a normal Battlefield match runs. It weighs heavy on the calm before the storm, and when the chaos begins, it never ends. Makes sense for a 64 player shooter.

For Mirror’s Edge it was difficult to think of a way to capture the essence of running without merely showing part of a level off, but its characters are definitely not its strong suit either. In the end I went with the aforementioned matching of Faith’s dialogue while also trying to find pieces of smooth movement. If I had more time to sort through all the footage I would have loved to capture the moments of distinctive animation when Faith slides down escalators, runs along walls, or seamlessly disarms an enemy without breaking her pace.

Mirror’s Edge is a game of motion, and its trailer should reflect that.