A Look Behind The Scenes: How This Australian CG Studio Makes Cinematic Trailers

A Look Behind The Scenes: How This Australian CG Studio Makes Cinematic Trailers

It’s pretty common knowledge that a large number of cinematic trailers are made by external CG studios hired by developers to produce something incredible. What might surprise you is the process behind these trailers, the technology involved or even the fact that a handful of these AAA trailers are being made here in Sydney, Australia. I’m a Producer at Sydney-based CG studio Plastic Wax. Plastic Wax is the team behind CG in The Hunger Games 2, Gears of War, Fallout, Bioshock, Borderlands and more. Most recently, you might’ve seen our LEGO The Force Awakens trailer. We do a lot of cool stuff!


Image: Plastic Wax

There’s a lot of mystery around exactly what a CG studio does, so I’m sitting down with my coworkers at Plastic Wax to get an inside look at the process from start to finish. I’ll be looking into the people and the passion behind each element, and the technology and software that makes it possible. To narrow it down I’ll focus mainly on what goes into the making of a cinematic trailer, but it’s important to note that most CG studios produce a vast variety of content, including the in-engine animation you experience while you’re playing the game.


Image: Plastic Wax
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Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax

By this stage you’re probably picking up that the production pipeline for creating a cinematic trailer is kind of like an assembly line building a car. Each department is specifically engineered and placed in the pipeline to be the most time-efficient and produce the highest quality performance. The lighting department’s position in the pipeline is carefully selected, as playing with light around a 3D model makes it easy to identify imperfections. Lighting Lead Ben observes “Lighting brings everyone’s work together and that’s where you see the flaws. If the animation or the models or the textures don’t look good, we see it in lighting.” Following up lighting, the rendering and VFX teams come into play to add effects like smoke and explosions before the compositing team bring all of it together in a Rocky montage-esque fashion in the final hours.


Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax


Image: Plastic Wax