Project Aura. A Trailer Success – Case Study

At bone-Studio we have over 8 years of experience performing various audiovisual productions of all kinds, including TV advertising, short films and web-ads, and this trailer has been a great challenge to overcome, we feel very proud of it.

Just a small number of projects have been approved for development and selling on Steam in just two days of public exposure.

We have worked closely with the Pixel Quality Games team to communicate as best as possible the spirit of a game that, being produced by an independent company and working with a tight budget, has great potential.

When we started the production of the trailer, we worked for three weeks in the script development, a script whose extension was only three sentences, but of course, as in any short script, everything had to be communicated in that space of time.

We worked each paragraph with Jorge Ramon, Pixel Quality Games director, to ensure that it communicated the project soul, we worked also with Moises Rodriguez, Art Director, so the visual aesthetics of the game was shown in each of the words uttered by the voiceover.

Later, with a final script, we defined the shots that were going to represent each part, trying not to be too abstract and looking to move the viewer to the society and economic conditions that were present in the video-game, a planet whose population was decimated by natural disasters.

The first shot was done using a smoke simulation prepared to aesthetically approach a comic aspect, without too much detail it had to represent a soft fluid that was similar to the dense smoke produced by a fire that consumes almost everything around him, also it had to give way to the sun viewed from the desert, so it represents what the director wanted to convey for the basis of the project.

Maya 2014 was technically the right software to do this, because the versatility of it’s fluid system and the mentalRay fluids render speed on a single computer.

The second shot was worked from a desolation perspective, produced by the world’s population extinction and how a light could be seen at the end of the journey, when the conservation cities begin to emerge.

This shot, while apparently simple, was done with extreme care to keep the same comic aesthetic, but using high resolution satellite imagery for a believable but also stylized globe, the final part was developed using motion graphics.

The chosen software was again Maya 2014, it’s animation tools, it’s render layer system and it’s robustness provided us with the ease to work at real scale, having a planet, similar sized to Earth, and an orbiting camera at a satellite distance.

The third shot was the most complex one, we created a cryonics room, belonging to one of the vital reserves of the project in which the life support capsules were stored.

This shot was completely developed twice, in the first instance it was a small sized room in which the low temperature was represented by a cold vapor simulation filling the ambience, it was a basic cryonics module, but we rejected this sequence because it wasn’t representing the real magnitude that a vital reserve should have. So, along with Moises Rodriguez, we completely rebuilt this set to make it a small piece of something that was awesomely sized.

Technically, this second shot was a big challenge, render times were raised by the complex lighting of the scene, each of the illuminated elements were really lighting up the room, the amount of lights exceeded the hundred and the amount of geometry with complex metal shaders was tremendous, therefore traditional render engines like mental Ray took too much time to perform one frame in this shot.

Due to the limitation present by the lack of network rendering licenses for mental ray included in a Maya license, this scene was faced in 3ds Max.
Here, the RandomControl render engine, Arion for 3ds Max, came into play.


As I’ve said at some point in the past, the GPU render engines limit is in the available video memory, and obviously a 25 million polygons scene and more than a hundred lights couldn’t fit in 3Gb of ram, this made us to discard iRay as a possible choice and pick Arion.

Using Arion’s various features like instancing and AOV’s, we rendered a very complex shot with a more than amazing speed, without having to sacrifice the comic aesthetic we were looking for and the compositing ease of traditional render engines.

Another important component was the cryonic interface at the start of the shot, drawing artist and designer Carlos Nieto did the GUI design, then sent it to us as separated elements and we animated it using different procedural motion graphics techniques making it function as a real process monitoring interface.

Finally we developed the logo project presentation and focused on assembling the ingame shots, which as you can see in the trailer, presents a great visual quality video-game, we are also proud of this becasue we did the animation and participate in advising the look&feel for some of the shaders.

This trailer and the concept of the game got a lot of supoprt for Project Aura from the gaming community in just two days, a feat that just a few projects have managed to achieve, it will be sold in the near future within Steam, one of the most popular video-games distribution systems all over the world, with a user community of over 60 million players.

Juan Gea.

Enlaces de interes:

  • Bone-Studio project
  • Project Aura in Steam
  • Project Aura – Official Website
  • Moises Rodriguez – Portfolio
  • Arion – Pagina Oficial de Random Control
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