Development Diary #11: Making a Trailer

We just posted our first trailer for Cally’s Caves 2, and since we were figuring it out as we went along, nothing seems more appropriate than a dev diary on how we made it.  You can use it as a cautionary tale, or get some tips that may be useful for your trailer, it’s really up to how you judge our final product.


When we made the trailer for the first Cally’s Caves game, we used a very popular screen recording software called Fraps to capture our footage.  We then used an editing software named Proshow Producer to edit the clips together and make our trailer.  While this was a decent way of doing it, we had problems with the overall video quality.  Fraps recorded high quality footage, but when we stitched together the .avi files that Fraps makes, then rendered the project again in Proshow Producer, there was a severe decline in video quality.  Add Youtube’s compression to the mix and we ended up with a pretty grainy trailer, as you can see for yourself above.

One thing we think worked out nicely for the Cally’s Caves trailer was how the footage was edited to the music, and ramped up as it went along.  We knew we could use some of the techniques we had learned making that trailer and make the trailer for Cally’s Caves 2 way better.

The Software

To record footage of Cally’s Caves 2, we created an .exe file from gamemaker at a resolution of 1920×1080 (full screen on my pc monitor).  We then were recommended a great video capture/editing software called Camtasia.  Camtasia does a great job of screen capturing, and it also allows you to directly edit the clips into a timeline after you are done recording.


The one catch was that Camtasia would not record a Gamemaker window at full screen.  We ended up having to record everything in a 1920×1080 window, and zoom all the videos in to 102% to get rid of the white lines around the edges of the screen.  Fortunately, Camtasia did a great job of keeping the video quality together, and saved us a full rendering step, which would have lessened the quality.

We tried to vary the footage as much as possible, in an attempt to show off our artist Pablo’s amazing palettes (side note: I swear, Pablo is going to be super famous some day and I’ll be telling all my friends I once worked with him – Jordan).  We also tried to show as many enemies as possible in 45 seconds, and show a couple of the bosses (not the final boss, of course).  Mainly, we just wanted the trailer to get across how much hectic fun Cally’s Caves 2 can be, and we thought the best way to do that was keep the trailer concise, and pack it with as many clips as possible.  The last thing we wanted to do was have a trailer that listed off the features of the game, as that is pretty common and we wanted to have our trailer be a little different.

The Music


As with the rest of the game, the music was composed in Propellerheads’ Reason software.  Although we use Reason 4.5, it’s currently at version 7, and if you’re into making music, you should definitely check it out.  We knew we wanted an upbeat track with a grimy sound to it, so we layered the track with tons of synths and tried to create a sense of “amping up” as the track progressed.  It was tough to fit all the ideas we had into a 45 second track, but in the end we were happy with how it turned out.

Editing and Finishing the trailer

After painstakingly cutting out clips from about an hour’s worth of recorded footage, we assembled the trailer in the Camtasia timeline.  Camtasia was very user friendly, and its timeline-snapping feature made it especially easy to edit a simple trailer.  It’s not as in depth as something like Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro, but it’s ease of use worked out great for us.  We tried to keep the edits minimal, as the main thing we wanted to get across was the game footage, and we didn’t want to distract the viewer’s eye with too many bells and whistles.  There’s actually only 2 zooms in the whole trailer.  The first one focusses on the “level up” sprite that shows up every time Cally levels, and the second is to go along with a music transition.

That’s pretty much it!  It was a fun learning experience figuring out how to make a high quality video trailer, and we really hope you enjoy it.

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