Last time around I introduced you to Henry Gibbens, CG artist extraordinaire — the man responsible for the Mole Hunt and Gamers’ Quest book trailers — and we had a bit of a chat about how he got started in 3D animation. He’s back again today, to tell us about his book trailer work…
Your first book trailer was for my teen novel, Gamers’ Quest. Given that you made this trailer for me, I know that you had a great deal of creative input into it. I was happy for you to go off and create what you thought would work visually. How did you go about approaching this trailer?
First things first… I read the book. I wanted to get a feel for the ‘tone’ of the book, as well as try and get a feel for the visual landmarks in the story. I then roughed out some storyboards of how I felt those visuals could be put together which I then got you to approve. Once approved, I set about modelling and animating the various scenes using a combination of pre-made elements and custom made models. The trailer was a combination of 3D animation as well as animated 2D elements, which come under the banner of motion graphics.
Your most recent book trailer is for Mole Hunt by Paul Collins. What was the creative relationship like on this project? Did Paul provide you with a brief, or did you read the book and then suggest ways to approach the trailer?
The original idea for Mole Hunt was for me to animate some traditional artwork produced by another artist as a motion graphics piece. Things got a little more complicated when the artwork fell through.
3D character work has always been a no go area for me – I’m at my most comfortable modelling and animating objects, not people. However, there are a couple of pieces of software that allow you to mix and match characters and clothing to produce quite acceptable 3D people. I had been playing around with the software to get a feel for what it could do and suggested that it might be a way to produce the character art for the Mole Hunt trailer.
Paul had a basic overview of what he wanted to see in the trailer as well as a pile of Googled references for how he wanted the characters to look. There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with the Poser characters until we arrived at something he was happy with. Again, a read through of the novel was a pre-requisite to get a handle on the tone of the book as well as a feel for the visual touchstones. Compared to Gamers’ Quest, this ended up being far more of a motion graphics approach, but that suited the requirements of the brief.
What’s your next project? (As if I didn’t know. :-))
Another book trailer for something called Gamers’ Challenge – I think you might be familiar with it? Just completed my read through of the novel and drawing up a list of potential visuals.
Having now completed two book trailers, and with another one in the works, is this an area you want to continue working in?
Yes! For me, they present a project where I can work on the whole thing, rather than producing just one element of a bigger picture. A lot of CG work is piecemeal — you get to produce a model which someone else will texture and someone else again will animate, before being turned over to a compositor who will put the whole thing together. You end up being a cog in a bigger machine. Book trailers allow me to work on a project as a whole, which I personally find more satisfying. There is also the challenge of trying to visualise what somebody else has created in their head. The written words on the page only represent part of what the author has in their mind and it is fun to try a tease out their ideas in a visual medium.
There is a degree of debate as to whether book trailers are a viable marketing tool, but as you yourself have said, their value cannot be measured in YouTube hits alone. A good book trailer can at least promote conversation about the book in question and add to an author’s armoury when promoting their books.
George’s bit at the end
A huge thank you to Henry for telling us about his CG work. If you’d like to know more about what he does, check out his website. I will, of course, be forcing you all to watch the Gamers’ Challenge trailer on Literary Clutter as soon as it’s been completed. 🙂
Catch ya later, George
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