I think Milly and I both thought we'd be the only one vidding Mirror's Edge. It was hilarious when I found out she'd made one as well but I was so relieved that they were basically two aspects of the source and two different takes. Hers is lovely, you should check it out.
I'm sure many of you don't know what Mirror's Edge is or don't know much about it. It's a first-person video game where you run through a near-future city helping those oppressed by the surveillance state they now live in. In particular, she's trying to uncover a conspiracy that has her sister framed for the murder of a progressive liberty-loving politician. As a game it has a number of praise-worthy components - a determined and independent asian female protagonist, a major de-emphasis on shooting people (possible but optional) and some unique movement mechanics.
I like Mirror's Edge. It's not an easy game - there's a certain point where you becoming skilful enough to be as awesome as Faith and that's a point not everyone reaches before the game gets hard. I like that the heart of the game is these two sisters, it makes up for the not-really-that-interesting conspiracy plot. The cutscenes are kinda poor too - the game itself has such an excellently realise art style that the flash animations in the cutscenes just don't live up to it. In any case, what I wanted to do with this vid was highlight the parts I liked most about the game - the aesthetic, the parkour and the sibling story.
To obtain the footage, I'd have normally just captured my own playthroughs of the game. If you know what you're doing you can beat the game in about the amount of time it would take to watch a movie - plus you can be more 'cinematic' with how you are looking around, doing things that look good rather than being efficient in the game. Unfortunately I did this video over the Christmas period when visiting my folks - meaning I only had my laptop which can run the game but not while also capturing footage. This sucked.
Hence, I had to source my footage elsewhere:
- EA's official trailers which in some respects look better than some of the in-game footage. With the exception of the compression which is kinda awful and YouTube is the only source that doesn't have big fat logos on it.
- In-game cut scenes.
- David 'Weatherproof' Streeter's superb speedrun (0:57:32) - excellent flow, obviously, and decent quality footage. The downsides to this source were no PhysX, having to remove the game reticule and, being a speedrun, there's a lot of skipping of key parts of the action and relying on strange game engine exploits.
- CowLaunchedGames' pacifist playthrough. I wanted to emphasise the non-lethal aspects of the game so wanted some good disarming footage. This is another source that needed its reticule removed. The free running isn't that great in this playthrough - he's not especially good at the game - but it made for some good scenes.
- pmf026's PhysX-enabled playthrough. If this weren't YouTube encoded, this would almost be perfect footage - no subtitles, no reticule and the guy has pretty good flow. Poor compression on YouTube sources means that I preferred using the speedrun wherever possible but this is a nice playthrough and with all the nice special effects that you can only get on the Nvidia graphics cards.
This vid posed a number of challenges that I'd not really had in other vids:
- It is entirely possible to edit the first-person footage in such a way that people watching become motion sick. Scrubbing for clips would make me ill after a while and I'd have to take breaks.
- Most of the footage has no people in it and establishing context was difficult in general. Even the scene where Faith meets her sister who has discovered Pope's murder I used slightly sparingly because without knowing the game it's hard to know at that point in the vid who the victim is.
- It's one thing to have to remove the logo of a TV channel but you can't just crop things when there's a dot *right in the middle of the footage*. I had to do some fancy logo-removing voodoo but I was really pleased with the results. If you look close at some individual frames you can see the way the footage is blurred but when things are moving it's really hard to spot I think.
- AfterEffects' motion tracking tool was inexplicably having a lot of trouble with the building at the end for animating the credits. Normally this kind of perspective work is a cinch for it but it was going crazy trying to track the dark blue on black in three dimensions. Instead I made a null object in 3D space that I keyframed by hand to track the front face of the building and then I used that as a parent for my credits so they'd track the building. It turned out well enough.
- People weren't playing the game dramatically enough. I had a hard time finding good footage of the sniper rifle rescue scene - these gamers had no sense of drama and didn't stay around to look at the carnage that ensued after pulling the trigger. Times like those I really wished I did my own captures so there'd be more last-minute escapes and such.
Warnings: Physical triggers, (some strobing, vertigo :P).
( Streaming )
( Lyrics )
one word and it's over