Axis Animation had to meet challenges both creative and technical to retain Fable’s art style while still bringing a level of realism to the trailer for Lionhead’s Xbox One debut

Lionhead teamed up with Axis for Fable Legends trailer

Lionhead Studios enlisted Axis Animation to produce the crisp debut trailer for its first Xbox One title, Fable Legends.

Made in collaboration with Lionhead, the trailer premiered at Gamescom in Cologne this August and captures the world of Fable – the fantasy and the decidedly British character design – in its two-and-half-minutes.

“The trailer explores our universal desire to play as the hero – our instinctive inclination to choose the good side, but asks the question what if the villain had been running the show all along?” said Ben Hibon, director at Axis.

In the trailer, viewers are led into the stylised world of a travelling theatre, complete with pop-up scenery, and introduced to the game’s four key protagonists in turn. Cue the some snappy transitions and the foursome is let loose to face down a range of creatures large and small.

“Fable has always had the perfect blend of story, action and comedy.” said Richard Scott, Axis managing director and executive producer.

“Each of the characters personalities had to shine through and there are some perfect moments of exchanged looks and gestures between them that add humour and charm.”

The Axis team, led by CG supervisor Sergio Caires, had to meet challenges in a number of creative and technical areas of the project, including striking the right balance between retaining Fable’s art style in things like character silhouettes, but also the need to bring a level of realism to elements like the surface shading on objects.

Helping the animated story is narration by British actor and Harry Potter star Michael Gambon, who Hibon said has “the quintessential storytellers voice and he can turn on just the right amount of menace when needed”.

Axis explained that a hybrid approach of keyframing and motion capture was used in order to achieve the exaggerated poses that Hibon was looking for.

“We considered and discussed the trailer with several studios earlier this year,” said David Eckelberry, game director of Fable Legends.

“We quickly locked on Axis and never regretted it. From the preliminary discussion phase, Ben Hibon and Axis had two qualities that made it all work. Firstly, their artistic energy and imagination. Axis instantly understood what we wanted to do with Fable Legends, and then took an initial pitch and brought it to life. They brought fresh ideas to the table, and developed characters and concepts that inspired us as much as eventually it would the fans. Equally important, the collaboration along the way was open and honest, and that made it possible to produce a great video trailer, in relatively short time.”

Fable Legends is the first instalment of the Fable franchise for Xbox One and promises to unite the classic gameplay with the next-generation capabilities of Microsoft’s new console.

Watch the trailer below:

Earlier this month, Epic Games looked at why Lionhead chose Unreal Engine 4 for its first Xbox One title.

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