How to Make a Monster Trailer… and empower it with Social Weirdness with Liquid Crimson

Lauran Carter, head of comms at Liquid Crimson

Games are inherently interactive experiences, but practically every first look for a potential player is a video trailer. While content around the game, such as developer diaries and influencer campaigns, can be essential in explaining a title’s USPs.

Liquid Crimson has been creating just such content for over eight years, with the team’s experience stretching back over two decades. Which all came in handy when 2020 stating throwing curveballs.

2020 was a year like no other, how did the pandemic affect the studio’s output…

One of the few good things (from the games industry’s point-of-view) about lockdown was that people needed to be entertained more than ever, so both die-hard and casual players were picking up their controllers in their droves. This meant that we were called upon by many games studios to announce and tease their games, as well as produce developer video diaries to keep their audiences entertained.

2020 saw us work with studios such as Supermassive Games, Criterion, Natural Motion, UsTwo Games, Outright Games as well as many, many more! It’s been a very busy year for us!

… Practically in terms of productions?

It’s been tricky, but thankfully not impossible, in part thanks to the (sometimes Herculean!) efforts of the games studios that we’ve worked with. With teasers and trailers, most of our work can be done remotely without the need to set foot in a studio, all thanks to modern day, high-speed broadband. The greatest challenge for us was how we would be able to safely film face-to-face interviews and dev diaries during a pandemic.

Prior to lockdown, we had many interviews lined up for the year for various projects, the planning for which we had to quickly adapt as the situation changed. We have been very fortunate to have worked with teams that inhabit large, but currently empty, studios so we have been able to use that to our advantage to set up a socially-distanced crew for some of the interviews. Also, Guildford has a fantastic venue, The Boileroom, that offers ample space for a socially-distanced ‘set’ so we’ve filmed interviews there as well.

We’re very passionate about supporting and curating the local game dev scene. Liquid Crimson runs the regular Guildford Game Dev evenings, the game awards and the festival – and being ‘detached’ from the community due to lockdown has been tough. We’re really keen to get back to IRL events once we’re clear of the pandemic!

… And creatively in terms of having to think up new approaches to campaigns?

As far as creative approaches go, we haven’t found a huge amount has changed. We’ve always worked collaboratively with our clients to bring their vision to life, and as our clients are spread across the world as well as all over the UK, we’re very used to a portion of the process being ‘long distance’.

Each of our clients bring a unique element for us to work with – from the colourful, squishy world of Alba, to the downright terrifying landscape of Little Hope, to the fast-paced, all-out action of CSR2. The games we work with have such depth that additional creative ‘angles’ haven’t really been required. We’ve just continued to work collaboratively and have carefully adapted to meet any challenges that presented themselves along the way. Communication and collaboration is, as always, key! Although we did take advantage of everyone being at home when it came to the Guildford Games Festival…

The Guildford Games Festival was a BIG success, tell us how you produced the LIVE content?

The GGF really is a true labour of love for all the organisers, and even more so in lockdown! The inaugural live event took place in 2019, and we had plans to make it bigger and better for 2020.

Initially, we were working with our Festival partners to hold the event in June 2020 but it became apparent very quickly that a physical event would not be possible, so we started to put together a Plan B. All the live events transitioned to online events, including the community-run game jam, so we kicked off a discord to provide a place for Guildford Devs to meet and discuss (akin to our Game Dev Drinks, but B.Y.O. from the comfort of your home!).

Even with a Plan B, we would still need interviews, and thanks to our fantastic (and enthusiastic!) sponsors at EA and Supermassive, we were able to create environments within their studios that respected social-distancing, and by providing items such as sanitiser, antibac wipes and facemasks (kindly donated by Insert Coin) to all interviewees and crew. It took a huge team effort, but we managed to produce over 9 hours of content for the event, which streamed to over 2 million unique viewers across Steam and Twitch in November.

The interviews themselves were a joy to host: interviewing sometimes legendary, always inspirational developers and really
deep-diving into processes and their learnings and history would have been the most exciting thing to be involved in in any year, let alone 2020! The interviewees were insightful, clearly devoted to their crafts and very keen to share their knowledge, which made for some fantastic video content!

These interviews and deep-dives were such a success that we are definitely aiming to do more of these in the future!

you also work with other media and artists, does that breadth of work spark creativity?

Absolutely! We love games but we also love music, science, outer space (real or sci-fi!), weird and wonderful live events, and all kinds of other things that make us us. From my perspective, just the fact that Liquid Crimson have a working relationship with folk in those fields is cool, but getting to sit down and interview a European Space Agency scientist, or the organiser of Space Rocks (and ex-Metal Hammer and Kerrang editor), or well-known comedians, and have them saying to you ‘Wow, game devs are magicians! You worked on that game?! The creativity! The feeling! The experience!’, it’s inspiring.

The next generation is here and graphics are sharper and shinier again, is the onus then on you to keep up?

The very highest production quality has always been our priority, so in that respect, nothing has really changed. However, the technology has changed so we have kept pace with that. From trailers for the Dark Pictures Anthology and CSR2, for example, to recreating the in-game video content for games like Need for Speed Hot Pursuit Remastered.

All these trailers, teasers and videos need to be made at the highest possible creative and technical quality. With the Xbox Series X and PS5 now in players’ homes and hands, game trailers just have to look stunning, and therefore it’s our job to ensure players get the most beautiful first glimpse of a game achievable.

Your core team is now mainly women, congrats! do you see that as an advantage in an industry that can struggle to reach the ‘other’ 50%

Liquid Crimson’s priority has always been to build a talented and creative team with a passion for the games industry and diversity ensures we’re able to approach projects from multiple angles and bring new perspectives.

Lia recently joined the LC team, a graduate from Guildford’s University of Surrey. Lia has brought a fresh creative perspective to the team and I love that she learnt her trade at a Guildford Uni and that she is now embedded with a Guildford team! 

I’m also a recent addition to Team LC, having first worked with them at Lionhead Studios, mainly on trailers, dev diaries and live events for Fable Legends. As Liquid Crimson’s head of comms, I’ll not only be handling all of the company signal boosting, but will also be heading up a full communications arm, to offer social media support, influencer management and marketing campaign planning to other games industry clients – and beyond.

With many projects already on-the-go, or lined up for 2021 and beyond, exciting times are very definitely ahead – and we cannot wait!

For all your video or social media related hopes and dreams, get in contact with Liquid Crimson info@liquidcrimson.co.uk. AND we’re hiring, and you could be just who we’re looking for. Drop us a note using the email above.

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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