Square Enix is holding a competition to see who can create the best one to two minute launch trailer for their upcoming game “Just Cause 3”. Having never scored a trailer, I thought this would be a great opportunity to get some experience doing just that, so I decided to give it a shot. I started by downloading the Just Cause 3 Creative Kit from the Just Cause 3 website. This basically consisted of a a bunch of video clips of varying lengths showcasing the gameplay. These are divided into folders based on the the type of gameplay the videos display, such as “shooting”, “planes”, “tanks”, etc. Also included were “Just Cause 3” logo with transparent backgrounds which could be used as an overlay on your trailer. Finally, there was a folder that contained a licensed music track that we were allowed to use if we didn’t want to create our own music for the trailer. Of course, I decided not to use the music provided and wrote my own music for it.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when writing music for a trailer (or any piece of linear film) is timing. Your music has to compliment or augment what is happening on screen. When a composer is hired to score a movie or game trailer, most of the time they are given an already edited trailer that they then have to write to. However, since this contest allowed us to edit the video footage into our own unique trailer, I was able to approach this task from the opposite direction. I started by composing the music, and then edited the trailer to match it.
If you watch the trailer I made, you’ll notice that I edited the video so that the gunshots and explosions were in time with various percussion elements in the music. Specifically, in the ambient first section I timed the sniper shots and exploding cars with the deep bass drum. In the latter half, almost all of the explosions are timed with the cymbal crashes of the drum track. By doing this, I hoped to create a feeling of the percussion acting, in a way, as sound effects for the action on screen, while still remaining an organic part of the music. Whether I succeeded or not is in the eyes and ears of the viewer, but it was definitely a fun way to approach making this trailer.
The elements I used in the music consisted of an organic drone with rhythmic stutter effects in the beginning section; an electric guitar drone that stays constant throughout the second half as high and low strings come in mainly playing a steady but intense ostinatum pattern. These are joined by a mid-high range synth playing a simple harmony accompaniment to the strings as well as a distorted electric guitar playing deep power chord chugs; and of course the brooding bass drum hits in the opening section, and the drum kit keeping the action going throughout the latter half.
The submission deadline for the contest is November 12th, 2015 and I believe they will be announcing the winners on November 20th. According to the website, there will be an overall winner, a winner for “Best Action”, “Best Use of Audio”, and “Best Humor”. If I don’t win the best overall, it would be really cool to win the “Best Use of Audio” category. There are a lot of really great trailers being submitted, so competition is stiff. We’ll see though! Either way, it was a fun experience and I hope I get the opportunity to score more trailers in the future.
Watch my trailer below: