The Father and Son Cinematic Trailer for God of Warfare Ragnarök

In recent times, sport trailers have generated nearly the identical stage of pleasure because the video games they promote. They’re typically thought of artistic endeavors in themselves, with their very own distinctive storylines and inventive approaches. 

With such a brief run time, cinematic sport trailers should captivate and immerse audiences within the sport’s universe rapidly with high-end visuals and music. 

At Goodbye Kansas Studios, we’ve created profitable cinematic trailers for notable video games similar to CD Undertaking Crimson’s Cyberpunk 2077, Murderer’s Creed: Valhalla, and Ubisoft’s Cranium and Bones. 

Extra not too long ago, we have been approached by AKQA to create the cinematic trailer for Sony and Santa Monica Studios’ newly launched action-adventure sport, God of Warfare Ragnarök.

This was an thrilling alternative for us, and we have been eager to discover the epic journey for the sport’s viewers, telling the story of its protagonist, Kratos, and his son, Atreus, as they embark on a journey to satisfy Atreus’ mom’s final want. 

We created breathtaking environments, from snow-covered mountains to intense motion scenes. All of those contribute to the compelling narrative instructed in a brief, twenty-three-second sequence comprising simply six photographs. 

It was a possibility to display the total potential of our newly developed pipeline based mostly on Common Scene Description (USD), using a mixture of cutting-edge applied sciences, together with developments in 3D, facial animation, and movement seize, to carry cinematic life to the God of Warfare universe.

Written by:

Alexis Andersson, CG Supervisor
Henrik Eklundh, VFX Supervisor



All of it begins with an concept. We have been approached by AKQA with an idea for the trailer and requested to assist carry it to life. Beginning off with the preliminary idea, the Goodbye Kansas staff, led by director Fredrik Löfberg, created a storyboard to behave as our information – one thing to point out key photographs that will be replicated within the trailer together with moments and tone to satisfy. 

We turned that right into a 3D previz to offer better readability of what the ultimate narrative would seem like. In the meantime, our Artwork Division, guided by Artwork Director Gustaf Holmsten, labored to create stylistic ideas which are visually like-for-like to what you’d count on to see within the last image. These preliminary type frames have been signed off by the shopper and have become a helpful basis for the staff to reference all through the challenge.

Movement seize 

With the previz signed-off, our subsequent step was to plan and execute a movement seize shoot. Mocap know-how offers a unbelievable technique for producing character actions quickly – actually capturing the efficiency of an actor somewhat than hand animating a sequence body by body. We have been in a position to make use of particular person strikes, sections, or set items inside our animation software program. 

We shot this part through the pandemic, which posed an apparent problem. Normally, the shoot would happen in Stockholm on our in-house movement seize stage. However, because of difficulties flying the actors over, half the staff headed to Sony’s Santa Monica Studio stage whereas the remainder dialed in remotely. It meant we may go the place the actors have been and make sure the security of our forged and crew, all of the whereas realizing that Sony was arrange for high-fidelity movement seize that will work in our animation course of. 

Regardless of the challenges, the shoot went easily, with priceless enter from Santa Monica’s animation director, Bruno Velazquez, who gave steerage on how Kratos ought to swing his axe and transfer in battle.  This allowed us to work carefully with skills to breathe life into the characters. 

For this shoot, we have been lucky to have the ability to work with Tremendous Alloy, the identical staff that additionally did a variety of mocap for the sport itself. This decreased the time wanted to grasp the characters, and we may deal with what we would have liked for the trailer particularly.

Following the session, the mocap knowledge was reviewed, and a spherical of choices was chosen. The administrators picked what motion they wished to be included, which was then inputted into movement modifying and animation software program in order that there was a cohesive timeline to start out with.

Character, setting, and asset constructing

One of many greatest challenges of the challenge was making certain that Kratos and Atreus matched the likeness to the sport characters. We had the unique sport property and sculpts from Santa Monica Studios, which we transformed and used as a base from which the staff may create refined cinematic variations. 


Our facial rigs are of the best commonplace, and we maintain pushing their growth to make sure we keep forward of the competitors for digital people. 

To make sure the characters resembled those from the sport however with greater high quality, we have been meticulous in regards to the particulars. We underwent a number of rounds of suggestions to make sure that they seemed precisely like the sport characters and that they matched and remained true to the sport. 

We wished to make sure that followers of the sport have been happy with the end result, and we went to nice lengths to make it possible for the Santa Monica Studios was proud of the ultimate end result.

Utilizing Maya, Blender, and ZBrush, the staff constructed our 3D fashions. These have been then rigged utilizing Maya and our proprietary facial animation toolset. The characters’ our bodies have been animated in MotionBuilder, with the movement seize knowledge being pulled in. 

Facial animation on a challenge like that is essential. It must be plausible as an individual whereas sustaining the sense of the world they’re in. Our facial animation staff labored meticulously to match Kratos’ distinctive look in all elements of animation by learning the movement actor’s efficiency, tweaking and perfecting in Maya, and utilizing Substance Painter to use textures.

That is additionally the place the flexibility of the USD pipeline comes into play. We have been in a position to iterate faster within the staff, and everybody may comply with the progress in a brand new method, which empowered possession and strengthened artistic output and velocity. 

As soon as finalized, the property have been printed as a USD file and opened in and opened in Solaris, which is the context inside Houdini for constructing, format, lighting, and rendering based mostly on the USD framework. It’s right here {that a} look growth artist took the printed characters and utilized groom and textures. 

We additionally used V-Ray shader for the look dev of the sequences, which have been then layered on high of the characters. These components, mixed with the rig and a simulation FX mesh, have been layered on high of one another to create a personality package deal. 

Digicam data and animation have been additionally printed into USD as an animation cache. And, due to USD, we’re in a position to edit any side of this stack with out having to remodel subsequent sections.

FX, lighting, and compositing 

Lighting is what units the temper of the shot, whereas FX provides a fantastical factor to the scene. Compositing takes the 3D output and makes certain a scene seems as life like and exquisite as it may be. Our lighting artists have been supplied with a template, referred to as a ‘node tree’ in Solaris, and labored on totally different components that have been cut up out into render passes. 

These passes have been then despatched to the farm to create a sequence of 2D photographs. Earlier than lighting, simulations for character and creature results have been carried out on the animation cache, and all of the ensuing results have been layered over the animation to create a last output. 

USD basically treats every edit or part as a layer with overrides – one on high of one other till you will have your last end result.

The trailer’s opening shot proved to be one of many extra technically difficult elements, with a number of shifting components. From Norse creatures (draugrs) coated in lava to smoke and snow, it was vital to seize all elements of the scene to convey what was occurring. 

For example, the staff paid consideration to element in displaying footprints within the snow. Although most viewers might not discover this, it was important to make sure that all components labored collectively. It’s the artwork of together with refined particulars that basically promote a shot – you won’t discover that footprints are there, however you undoubtedly would if it wasn’t. Explosions, fireplace, smoke, snow within the air, and embers from the draugrs, have been all created in Houdini with the identical consideration to element. 

Lighting is the final step earlier than 3D will get remodeled and rendered right into a 2D picture. The work from all departments will get mixed right into a single usd file which the lighting division then splits up into totally different renders. Then they get despatched to the farm or cloudfarm the place 3D photographs get remodeled right into a 2D exr picture for the compositing staff to select up.

God of Warfare has some heavy photographs to work with, together with characters, snow, smoke, and fireplace, multi function place, which might have been intense to render. We would have liked to make sure that these totally different components have been cut up up into separate outputs and layered like items of a puzzle. 

The compositing staff did a tremendous job of making certain that every one rendered parts labored collectively seamlessly, particularly in tweaking the totally different parts to attain the heavy snowstorm impact.

Rendering and grading go

Solaris in Houdini is our chosen device to create property and scenes, and we render these out from Solaris utilizing V-Ray. 

Initially of a challenge, we at all times focus on the constancy goal and function of the trailer. As a part of this, real-time rendering or not is among the large decisions. We’re specialised in each paths and perceive the challenges and totally different workflows that have to be utilized for every, but additionally to have the ability to talk relating to the ultimate constancy bar. 

We would have liked each body to be good, which is why we use offline rendering – on this case, Chaos’ V-Ray. 

Lastly, our colourists do a grading go in DaVinci Resolve to attain the specified really feel for the ultimate sequence. As soon as the grading go is full, the footage is exported to be used and delivered to the shopper for the world to see.

In realizing the cinematic trailer for God of Warfare Ragnarök, the Goodbye Kansas staff used a spread of various applied sciences, together with 3D, facial animation, and movement seize, to create breathtaking environments and a compelling narrative sequence.

Whereas we’ve created quite a few sport trailers previously, it was a difficult job to inform a compelling story and embrace all of the important components in a brief timeframe. 

Nonetheless, from a technical standpoint, the method was simple. Using superior software program instruments in our newly-developed USD pipeline, together with Houdini’s Solaris and V-Ray, enabled the staff to create gorgeous 3D scenes and render them effectively. The compositing work utilizing Nuke then seamlessly built-in totally different components to attain a cohesive and dramatic visible expertise. 

General, the trailer is a testomony to what’s potential with a well-thought-out pipeline alongside our staff’s experience and inventive route. We’re proud to have delivered a visually gorgeous and emotionally participating trailer that captivates the viewers.


Behind the Scenes 

About Goodbye Kansas Studios

Goodbye Kansas Studios provides award-winning and uniquely built-in providers for characteristic movies, TV sequence, commercials, video games and sport trailers. Experience consists of VFX, FX, CG productions, 3D face & physique scanning, digital people, creature & character design, efficiency seize, animation and real-time methods. The corporate, with a workers of 250+ is a part of Goodbye Kansas Group AB (publ), listed on the Nasdaq First North Progress Market and with studios and workplaces in Stockholm, London, Helsinki, Vilnius, Belgrade, Beijing, and Los Angeles.