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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:

  1. 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.
  2. In-game cut scenes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Suffice to say, without these sources there would have been no vid.

This vid posed a number of challenges that I'd not really had in other vids:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Anyway, it was a fun vid to make although it was more rushed than I wanted - I felt like I wasn't doing enough with the source and song. In any case, Brad likes it (like I knew he would) and that's the most important thing.

Enjoy!

Warnings: Physical triggers, (some strobing, vertigo :P).

Raise Your Weapon by AbsoluteDestiny

one word and it's over

Footage: Mirror's Edge (2008)
Audio: Raise Your Weapon (Madeon Remix) by deadmau5
Duration: 00:03:03

Lyrics:

Rippin' my heart was so easy
so easy
Launch your assault now
take it easy

Raise your weapon
Raise your weapon
One word and it's over

Rippin' through like a missile
Rippin' through my heart
Rob me of this love

Raise your weapon
Raise your weapon
and it's over

Raise your weapon
You won't feel a thing

(you won't feel a thing..
...for your war)

Droppin' your bombs now
on all we built
How does it feel now
to watch it burn, burn, burn?

Raise your weapon
Raise your weapon
Raise your weapon
Raise your weapon

This entry has been crossposted to my Dreamwidth account, and it currently has comment count unavailable replies there. Comment on whichever site you prefer.

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bradcpu
Feb. 2nd, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC)
I feel truly fortunate that you chose to vid this for me. It was obvious that it was someone who was incredibly skilled, of course, and more to the point it was exactly the vid I was picturing in my head.

It's also fascinating to read about your process and the lengths to which you went in order to do a proper (to put it mildly) job on this... particularly since I'm currently working on a video game vid. I didn't give a second thought to the lack of a reticule while watching the vid, but since it's been pointed out I'm in awe. I guess that's the point - to make sure it's not the focal point. Thanks also for plowing on through the motion sickness! It's reassuring that you were able to have some fun with the vid despite that. I wouldn't be surprised if your vid, your resources, and your description of the process led more LJers to vid it.

A few more thoughts I've had about the vid on rewatches since go live:

-That white dissolve from the building interior to the flashback at :25 is incredibly effective in navigating the mood and tone shift and tying together the narrative. And it's so simple. I don't know that I would have thought of it.

-One of my favorite lyric ties is the camera coming up on the first "raise your weapon." Nice.

-The floaty, high cityscape running scenes work really well with the airy vocals around 1:15. Which, I'm sure you're all like "I know, that's why I put them there," but I just wanted you to know that it came across that way on this end too. :)

-Pullout/crossfade of amazingness at 1:25 is a *brilliant* way to introduce the action/running segment just after. (Also, I don't know that I've ever seen 3rd-person footage.)

-Aside from the zipline, which I mentioned in the other post, another of my favorite moments in the free-running segment is the hurdle at 1:45, which connects beautifully and uses the train light to blend the scenes, all while following the movement of the music. Just beautiful.

-I think the reason the disarm segment just after works so well is because you haven't really shown Faith fighting back in any way before this, and here it's all so much more striking (heh) because of that. Also, I'm a sucker for dramatic internal motion like that, as I'm sure you know.

-Into slow motion just after as the beat drops out. Yes!

-The ending segment is beautifully executed. That kick at 2:37 is just *perfection*, the real brilliance is the helicopter going askew as the music winds down.

People weren't playing the game dramatically enough
Ha, I've run into that as well while vidding gameplay footage.

I'm in total agreement with your summary of the game itself. It's obvious you had a real grasp on the appeal of the source material, and I doubt you would have been able to achieve a vid of this caliber without that. I was seriously stunned by it, and am thrilled to now have a link to a big downloadable file. Thanks so much, man.
deej
Apr. 12th, 2013 05:12 pm (UTC)
I think I might have commented on the Festivids page for this, but just wanted to come back to fling a bit more praise around because this vid left a lasting impression. I keep coming back to watch it to enjoy the motion and movement of the footage and how artfully you tied it to the (very well chosen) song. Yours is one of those glorious vids where it all comes together and carries you away for a few minutes. Love it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )