A while back I posted a trailer for the upcoming Hong Kong action game, Sleeping Dogs. The entire video is live action, with many scenes filmed in my home city of Vancouver. At the time, I knew virtually nothing about the game, but the trailer impressed me so much that I decided to reach out to Goldtooth Creative, the studio that created it, and ask them a few questions.
Though the team was extremely busy with GDC 2012 in San Fransisco, Associate Creative Director Paul Furminger was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. It’s an extremely brief interview, but if you were interested in learning more about the production of the trailer, you’re in for a real treat.
Unfinished Man: Could you tell us one interesting fact about the making of the Sleeping Dogs video that most people probably don’t know?
Paul Furminger: Here are a few facts about the production that aren’t common knowledge. We shot the kitchen and club fight scenes in a single location in Vancouver, B.C.: the Waldorf Hotel (www.waldorfhotel.com). We had to shoot overnight and only had two nights for both sets. The first shot of the trailer was supposed to be a close-up on the cleaver with the reflection of Wei fighting the second thug in the kitchen, but when we started cutting the piece, the slow motion fire shots of the chef were just too good to bury somewhere else in the edit. For the fire shots, we only had the time in our schedule to do one take. Darryl Quon, the chef and our assistant stunt co-ordinator, did a great job getting it done in one awesome take with two different cameras catching all the fire action. We used a local Vancouver company called Fire 4 Hire (www.fire4hire.com) that specializes in doing burns on bare human skin. Since you can actually burn victims on stove tops in the game, it was great that we were able to get that into the trailer. We tried to match the gameplay as much as possible. Our fight choreographer, Darren Shahlavi, spent hours watching gameplay footage to put together fights that were true to the game. If you can believe it, about a quarter of the fights ended up on the cutting room floor (yes, there was even more ass kicking in the original footage).
UM: Has Goldtooth always focused on creating trailers for film and games, or has that sort of evolved over the years?
Paul: Our primary business has always been creating marketing trailers and cinematics for our gaming clients. We started as a small group of artists who had fled the feature film visual effects industry because we wanted to focus on creating compelling stories. When you are working on a large film as a VFX artist, your ideas almost never make it to the screen (and if they do, you certainly never get credit for them). When we started creating trailers for gaming companies, we were surprised by how much creative license they gave us. It was a bit like the Wild West. Even for this project, the game’s marketing team should really be commended on taking a chance and allowing us to create a live action trailer for a video game. That kind of pioneering spirit is central to why we love working with gaming clients. Often, these projects feel more like a creative partnership than a client/vendor scenario.
UM: In broad strokes, what kind of work is involved in creating one of your purely CG trailers, like the Deus Ex trailer you released for Eidos Montreal?
Paul: The credit for the Deus Ex CG trailers goes to Square Enix’s Visual Works. They did all the CG work for those. Kody Sabourin, our Creative Director, directed those and I edited and co-wrote them. It was a great experience working with the Visual Works team in Tokyo, Japan.
UM: Are you working on any major new game related projects at the moment, and if so, can you give our readers some hints?
Goldtooth: We continue to work on a number of significant game properties, most of which I can’t disclose.
What I find especially interesting is that Goldtooth decided to film many of the scenes at The Waldorf Hotel. If you’re a fellow Vancouverite, you’ll probably appreciate why I find that amusing. For those of you who haven’t heard of the place, The Waldorf is essentially a bar that sells extremely inexpensive drinks. It’s the reason I love the place so much, and also why The Waldorf has stayed at the top of my cheap beers tour list for so long. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend checking it out.
I hope all of you enjoyed this mini-interview with Paul and Kody, and I have every intention of bothering them with more questions in future.
If you’re looking for more information on Goldtooth Creative and the many fantastic projects they’ve worked on, head over to their official website.