Two Point Hospital

“Nailed it!” was the client's verdict, and who are we to argue? Breaking a new IP is hard to do, as Neil Sedaka didn’t sing. But breaking a new IP when it’s from the people behind some of the most beloved games of all time AND your new game echoes memories of a stone cold classic, ALL under the weight of expectation that comes with an iconic publisher? Well you need someone who knows how to do the business.

OMG-ing the press, delighting the community and being faithful to the final production was the goal, and this trailer slotted it into the top corner, before wheeling away to the adulation of the fans. We worked hand-in-hand with the teams at Two Point Studios and SEGA to create this beauty - and the key art for good measure - winning the internet for a day in January.

Brief comes in. How did things kick off?

When we were asked by SEGA to come in to pitch on the project, it was an obvious opportunity to do a bit of trademark TrailerFarm storytelling, and have fun with the IP. The creative team were initially split between a live action approach and a CG route. As we developed the initial creative ideas, our 3D artists kicked off some visual work based on the in-game models, which were up-rezzed or rebuilt on existing assets. This was so we could stay faithful to the game’s art style and allow the characters to address the camera directly, with the associated extra fidelity required for a Aardman-benchmarked quality production. As the visuals developed and conversations with SEGA and Two Point Studios continued, we focussed on achieving the vision entirely in CG, playing with the conditions that need to be healed in the game. Once the tone was established and signed off with the client, we moved on to further scripting and animatic work to stress test the comedy, pacing, music selection and edit style.

Two Point Hospital - Pebberley Island

Two Point Hospital - Announcement Trailer

What role did animatics play in this production?

They were critical. We were playing with comedic ideas which would be very hard to pull off in the final version without the iteration we undertook during the pre-production phase. In fact, the animatics and script were developed to the point where the final animatic is pretty much exactly in step with the final render. It enabled us to focus on the visual look, animation and comedy in the final with great confidence. And it was a lot of fun. In fact the whole team we’re so on board with the animatic that the challenge then became about doing justice to the idea visually.

The animatics also helped as we moved more heavily into the tone and look of the trailer. The ability to rapidly create and remove elements of the script meant we could implement client feedback quickly. It kept the process streamlined and hassle-free. The comedic element was essential to the trailer’s success, but comedy timing cannot be showcased in a script alone. The animatics allowed us to quickly trial different ideas if there were any blockers in the pacing. At the core of any solid trailer, regardless of its budget and scope, it is the story which drives it. The pre-production process is essential in getting the core right, and that builds the confidence with the client that the story you’re going to tell is doing justice to the game, the brand, and is going to connect with the audience.

Two Point Hospital - Trials of Trevor

What services and techniques went into creating this trailer?

Creative development, scripting, storyboarding and animatics, modelling, surfacing, lighting, facial and full body rigging, animation, visual effects, motion graphics and audio design… phew. We worked very closely with the art director and animators at Two Point Studios in order to keep things on brand and authentic to the game. Our background in AAA game dev served us well here. Off the back of nailing the spirit of the game in our sequences, the client asked us to create additional assets such as the static store

page and key art images using the work we had developed for the trailer. It’s a service we’re expanding and starting to offer to all clients, as we can leverage what is arguably the most important hero asset to deliver marketing collateral that’s all on brand and spun off the same creative.

Two Point Hospital - Sandbox Trailer 60"

What were the biggest challenges on this project?

Technically, the characters. We didn’t have long to establish the look for character base assets and although based on the proportions and general shape of the game models, we had to scratch build all the body, face and hair meshes to be suitable for use in a high-end production. The models look brilliant in the game, but were authored at too low a resolution to hold up in-camera for the ambition in this creative. The face also required a set of blendshapes to use for lip-sync and posing. We also had to build a control rig to drive all the character performances that would empower the animators while not over-complicating the process which could potentially break the pipeline and the capacity to reliably export animation data into Unity. The final base character was driven by a combination of joint based deformation and blendshapes.

One of the trickiest things to get working was the eye setup. Due to the proportion of the head and the shape of the eyes, the eyes themselves could not be spherical. A fairly standard ‘toon-like setup had to be used to “squash” the eyes into shape using parent bone scaling. This allowed the eyeball to rotate within its deformed transform space and maintain its squashed shape. As it turns out, Unity handles this kind of setup absolutely fine, while other realtime engines do not, requiring significant and complex work-arounds.

Two Point Hospital - Bigfoot Trailer

Two Point Hospital - Launch Trailer

What were the creative challenges on this video?

Taking a humorous route was something that felt very natural to us, but creatively it was important for us to push the boat out and really go with our gut feeling. Often, when you try and shy away from doing what you know is funny to take a safer route, you’re damaging the trailer and it won’t resonate with viewers. The guys at SEGA and Two Points Studio were really on board and contributed to the concept we developed, and it was great watching the scripts and animatics refine and bake in those beats that reflected the humour in the game.