Psyop, an award-winning production company best known for its visually-stunning commercial work and animated content, teamed up with Finnish game developer Next Games on “The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land,” the cinematic trailer for their upcoming mobile game based on AMC’s critically acclaimed TV series “The Walking Dead.” The trailer premiered at AMC’s The Walking Dead booth at San Diego Comic Con International on July 23 and has already become an online sensation among fans and gamers alike, with conspiracy theories abounding around Psyop’s latest cinematic.
Developed by Next Games in close collaboration with AMC, the game will feature themes familiar to the TV series, where characters fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic, walker-infested world.
“We’re huge fans of the show,” commented Psyop Director Marco Spier. “It was important that we created something emotionally engaging for the players, but we wanted to make sure that the essence of the show came through for fans of ‘The Walking Dead’.”
The scene opens from black to reveal a distressed face of wounded survivor longingly staring behind the camera. We hear an echo of a faint voice singing a melancholy folk song through the room as the camera slowly pulls out through a frozen moment. This moment captures a dramatic pause between the survivors and hints at their backstories, and sacrifices they have to make to survive. Haunting sounds of people’s voices sneak in as the camera travels out of the room.
The story unfolds as the camera pulls up and out to roof of the building to reveal a herd of walkers coming towards the building. The folk song is overwhelmed by the sounds of walkers and breaks down leaving you feeling hopeless.
“There’s a moment in ‘The Walking Dead: Season 2’ when the survivors find safety in the fenced in jail. They’re able to stop running and take a moment around the campfire and when Beth sings “The Parting Glass” it was really emotional — in that stillness, that quiet moment, through that song, the other characters had time to think about their experiences and their memories,” added Psyop Director Marie Hyon. “This unspoken moment in the abstract was really powerful for me. We wanted to capture that thought provoking moment, like the calm before the storm.”
Opting for this frozen approach over something fast paced and hectic also played a large part during the technical aspects of production. Psyop and Next Games created different archetypes for each character in the trailer, and worked with Another World Studios to capture hi-def 3D body scans of the four main survivors. The backgrounds were created in CG using a photogrammetry technique, with photographs taken of an abandoned basement that were art directed to echo a deserted supply room and then enhanced by matte painting. “Similar to the show, a big part of the game is having to choose who you trust to be part of your group. We wanted to create different archetypes of characters - the weak, the companionate, the untrustworthy, the leader,“ commented Hyon.
“In that moment of escape when one person needs to be sacrificed for the good of the group was important part of the story” noted Spier. “We liked that the story isn’t completely spelled out for you and liked that viewers could watch the reveal as though it were a 3D painting. We wanted to pay tribute to the power of imagination in that regard.”
Title: "The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land”
Game Developer: Next Games
Creative Director: Mikael Achrén
Head of Marketing: Saara Bergström
Director: Marie Hyon, Marco Spier
Technical Director: Christian Bach
Executive Producer: Lucia Grillo
Producer: Ryan Mack, Nick Read
Designer: Lauren Indovina, Eunice Kim, Anh Vu
VFX: Todd Akita, Christian Bach
Modeler: Oliver Castle, Bryan Eck, Briana Franceschini, Kwan Au
Rigger: Michael Altman
Lighter: Kwan Au, Oliver Castle, Briana Franceschini, Jonathan Lee
3D Animator: Michael Altman
Storyboard Artist: Ben Chan
Compositor: Bo Kim, Tobey Lindback, Danica Parry, Max Kornev
VFX Supervisier: Joerg Liebold
3D Scanning: Another World Studios
Song: Maggie Greene - "The Parting Glass"
Sound Design & Mix: Ari Pulkkinen
Editor: Jonathan Vitagliano