Captain’s Log #15: Cinematics

This is an archived Kickstarter update, originally only available to Nelly’s Backers:

February is over already!

I have to confess that this month has been plagued by winter colds. The Nelly Cootalot team has been recently extended, but almost everyone involved has been struck down with the sniffles. I have inexplicably escaped, but I’ve been working so intensely my left eye twitches every time I yawn, and I think I’ve lost the ability to use sellotape.

In spite of sickness (and sellotape) related setbacks, progress is accelerating in several areas of the game. For this update, I’m going to focus on the cinematics I’ve been creating.

Cinematics vs Cutscenes

I suppose cinematics and cutscenes are usually synonyms, but for Nelly Cootalot: The Fowl Fleet I’m making a distinction. I’m using ‘cinematics’ to describe fully-animated, full-screen video sequences. Meanwhile ‘cutscenes’ refers to extended non-interactive sequences in-game. So key exchanges of dialogue will take place in cutscenes, handled by the game’s engine. Meanwhile, major plot points and moments of action will be brought to life in short and punchy cinematics.

Cinematic Storyboards

Last month I showed a sample storyboard sketch, and now I’d like to follow its progress into a short cinematic revealing the eponymous fowl fleet.

Cinematic – Storyboard Animatic

I begin by attempting to time-out the sequence using the pencil sketches. This can be challenging because the sketches are lacking in detail. This means the eye reads them quickly, so it’s easy to make the animatic edit too fast.

Cinematic – Work In Progress

This is a work-in-progress, but I think it shows significant progress over the animatic. Most notably, it’s missing sound-effects – in particular the spoonbeak’s battle cry.

The most challenging aspect of these animations has been deciding how to approach animated seawater in a style which fits the game. In the original pitch video I used a procedurally generated ocean. In context of the game’s art style, that rolling ocean looks too naturalistic, too 3D. So in contrast, I’ve chosen a more traditional 2D approach which more closely matches the hand-drawn style of the water in-game.

Pax East

Application Systems will be showcasing Nelly at PAX East, March 6-8. Sadly, I will be stuck in London completing the last of the VO recording. I don’t know if we have any Bostonian backers, but please say hello if you are attending!

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