What I did on my summer vacation, by Betsy Cadel.
This summer has been a busy one for Thinking Cap Productions. Great for business, lousy for my tan (although my dermatologist would be happy).
TA Barron specializes in rich fantasy fiction. You know, wizards and dragons and mythical lands. We wanted the Atlantis Rising video to feel epic to stand out in the world of book trailers too. We decided to make the video using Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). But here's the thing about CGI, you are literally creating something out of nothing.
Producing traditional videos is a lot like doing a puzzle. A script is written, then the exact footage you want is shot on camera and edited together. CGI is like doing a puzzle where the pieces are from lots of different boxes and most are left blank.
Armed only with an image of the book cover, a beautifully illustrated black-and-white map (which TA did by the way), and a notion of the "feel" of the spot, we reached out to a fantastic computer graphics artist who had just completed work on the latest Percy Jackson movie trailer. Hey, we weren't messing around.
We found music through a music library which absolutely gave me goose bumps. Music is a good place to start as it really establishes the tone. It's amazing how the same footage can feel so different with and without music.
I wrote a script that was going to have to work strictly as titles, and, we found a 15-second stock footage clip of a crashing wave that we thought might fit in there somewhere.
When we watched the wave against the music it felt really dramatic and mysterious. A perfect opening.
Meanwhile the dream team went to work. Torrey Liddell is a spectacular producer. He will be as relentless and anal as is humanly possible to get everything perfect. Did I mention being anal? Thank God for that. You wouldn't want a producer who wasn't. David Hausen is a Director of Photography who has tremendous vision and such a quirky imagination he constantly brought unexpected ideas to the table and never stopped asking "what if?" Trust me, I begged him to stop and he wouldn't. And most importantly, Chris Smith, the ultimate wizard, who executed on concepts that often began with the words, "Um, you know, something like..."
CGI is not quick. It is an artform. There is nothing simple in the request "Can you change the angle on this, speed it up, and give more detail to...?" Every frame of every second needs to be created pixel by pixel. It's easy to forget that sometimes when you come from a world of multiple takes and loads of camera footage.
Discussions over the "right" color of gold, the spacing of the letters, and the final reveal of the book were frequent and lengthy. Chris always found a way to create what we wanted.
If you watch this video again now you will notice that the once flat, black and white map, is aged and dimensionalized. The viewer is taken inside the map and travels over and through it. The element of the amulet contains extraordinary details like the intricate design of the golden setting as well as the kingdom of Atlantis, which dances around the facets as the amulet rotates and moves at multiple angles. It's truly remarkable work.
At last we had a gorgeous array of puzzle pieces ready to be assembled. Finessing and refinessing, with a release date deadline looming, it finally came together as what you see today. If we've done our job well the secrets I've just revealed should generally go unnoticed by you, but the magic shouldn't.
My final confession, I have never worked on a video that was entirely CGI before. But with TA's faith, an incredibly dedicated team of pros, and a book so special that it deserved a video to excite fans I hope that it has succeeded.
If you're a fan of Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and the fantasy genre in general, I truly urge you to pick up TA Barron's Atlantis Rising. You know about the destruction of Atlantis, now find out about its creation.
Check out the other videos we did about Atlantis Rising on YouTube and if you have questions leave comments below. I'm happy to reveal more about what happens behind the scenes.