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The genesis of a game trailer: How the new Tomb Raider trailer was made

Five years ago, a normal video game trailer was little more than a brief series of either gameplay clips or bits of the game’s CGI moments, strung together with music. It was pragmatic and meant to hit a few key points, but that’s about it. More than anything it was simply designed to herald a new game and to let people know when it would be released. But gradually things began to change.

Over the years, the game trailer has taken on a new level of importance, closer to that of a Hollywood movie trailer. A good trailer can mean the difference between a massive hit, and a title destined for the bargain bin. Typically the best games will find a way to reach the masses regardless, but a good trailer can propel an obscure publisher and developer to the forefront and it can breathe life into a new project.

For example, take the zombie melee game Dead Island. In January of this year, few people knew that the game was even still in development. It had lost its publisher before eventually landing at Deep Silver, and even then, the game was a minor title without much heat behind it. Then came the trailer.

The trailer for Dead Island is among the best game trailers in recent years. Within a few days, the clip had received several million hits on YouTube, it was front page on many entertainment websites, and soon a bidding war for the rights began in Hollywood (you can see the trailer at the above link). The trailer was entirely CGI, and that CGI was created exclusively for the trailer There was not a single frame of the game itself in the clip, and yet suddenly Dead Island was one of the most anticipated games of the year.

At this year’s E3, many of the biggest games all featured trailers that were exclusively CGI, and they all impressed. It is a trend that will continue, as more and more companies move away from the traditional video game trailers, and go for the style points. But what is the process of creating these trailers?

The majority of the new wave of trailers are handled by groups that are specifically dedicated to trailers, and are not a part of the development teams responsible for the game itself. Of course, there needs to be a strong relationship between the groups in order to make the trailer relay what the developer wants, so the process of creating a trailer has grown more intricate and infinitely more complicated than ever before—but the results are some amazing and jaw-dropping clips. Here are five of our favorites.

One of the more impressive clips to be released recently is the new Tomb Raider trailer, titled “Turning Point,” which was released to show off the reboot of the franchise in time for this year’s E3. Developed by Crystal Dynamic, the game won’t hit shelves until Fall of next year, but the trailer has already helped generate an incredible amount of interest for the project. In the clip below, the developers discuss the process of how the clip was created. Check out the video clip below for a behind the scenes look at the making of a big budget video game trailer.