Last week you learned the theory of movie making. This week you’ll learn the more TM related stuff – how to shoot videos in TrackMania United. Note that this works in Nations as well
This article was written by Alcator.
Have you seen videos like “1K Project”? Would you like to make something like that too, but have no clue how to achieve that? If so, read on…
First of all, the approach you’ll want to take differs depending on how powerful (if at all) movie-editting software you have. It helps to have either some commercial or “OEM” software in your computer; most digital videocameras are sold with some software like Power Director Express – though not the most powerful, it can help a lot.
If you don’t have anything like that, it’s still possible to create a video, it’s just a bit more complicated.
Heart of the movie
Before you can start creating the movie itself, you need some “material” to work on. That material is one or more game replays – you simply play a particular track one or several times and save the replays; if you want to make it more lively, you should change the car skin (and eventually trails color as well) from time to time. For my All Roads Lead To Rome video, I made 30 replays, utilizing 6 car skins, with about 3 to 7 different trail colors for each, so that the cars look ”different”.
If you want to make a mere racing movie (like a video of a real-life race), there’s really nothing to it besides finishing the track several dozens times. However, if you want to add some spectacular stuff, it may require more careful planning; once again, I’ll refer to my ARLTR video, where soon after start, you see some cars fall into water. How did I manage to get a car that obviously screwed up to appear in the video? All it took was wait a while in the water, then respawn in the previous CP, and then finish. Of course, this means the track must have some handy checkpoint BEFORE any place where you want to intentionally send the car into water or on the roof, so just as I adviced in my article about Stunt tracks (and also in an article about Press Forward starts and tracks), it’s a good idea to place a CP right after start.
Similarly, if you want to make a movie that looks as if 7 cop cars were chasing 1 “bad guys” car, you may need to make a precise list of when the leading car passes through key parts of the track, and then precisely time the driving of the other cars so that they tail the leading car in those places; this may require things like “waiting for 73.5 seconds on the start before starting to race” – filmmaking is not a job for the impatient, and just as real-life filmmakers sometimes have to wait 5 hours for the sun to come up, in TM, you’ll have to time your driving properly. The results do pay off!
Before you start recording the replays, however, you need the track. It should be completely decorated with scenery, even way above the recommended limit of 6000 coppers. Also, you have to set the mood (time of day) properly if you want some particular effects to work well. If you intend to make this a high-res video, you should play (or at least view) the track in the highest graphics settings (PC3 High shaders etc.) to see how it looks – don’t forget that while normally, your PC probably cannot render such quality in real-time with acceptable framerate, in movie making, all you need is for the PC to be able to render the image at all, because you don’t really need to be driving the track during the actual shooting.
Simply put – make sure the track looks awesome. Pay special attention to the areas where something wild is planned to happen – such as some wild overtaking, collisions, car jumping over other cars etc. – those places must be properly lit, have enough room for all the cars to fit in etc.
If the story you’re about to tell in your movie is a complex one, it might be a good idea to build alternate access routes to the “waiting spots” (such as a hidden place on a building top from which the cop car will jump down to chase the running bad guys’ car – of course you’ll need a red booster to provide some speed, right?) – just make sure that the car that goes to this waiting location from start is later able to pass through all CPs and get to the finish.
Look at the following picture – it’s an overview of a simple coastal track, with a green curve showing the passage of the “hero car” and the yellow lines showing possible shortcuts.
When the track is finished, you can start recording the replays. Take some time to master the track – it saves time to be able to finish the track almost “blind-folded”, and if you are trying to make some story-like movie, you’ll need to be able to get to particular areas “on time” (having the alternate access routes helps a lot).
Make a plan of attack – write exact time when the “main car(s)” pass(es) through the key locations, and write a schematic script of what the other cars will be doing at those times and between them. You may even make a top-down view of the whole track, make a screenshot of it, print it, and draw into it how each car (use colored pencils to distinguish between them) passes through the track and at what times.
Once the gray theory is set, it’s time to enter the green tree of life Start recording the replays; always doublecheck that the car skin and trails color is correct for this particular “actor”, and unless you’re absolutely sure you got the replay all right, perhaps make 3 or more runs for each actor and save them all so you can alternate between the replays if need be. Unless it’s a PF track, no two replays will be the same – and a one inch difference can make the difference
A thing that may come in handy is playing the track with one or more of the already recorded replays shown. To do this, go to Editor -> Replay, select all the replays you want to see during your race attempt, and then click OK – a menu appears, from which you choose “Play”. The track will then load, all the selected replays will be displayed and you can race. This is particularly helpful for precisely driving between other cars in opposite direction (like in Matrix Reloaded or Ronin), as you actually see the cars you’re trying to avoid colliding with.
Look at this set of pictures – it shows the demonstrational track with all the replays together; I’ve added trails so that it’s easier to see where the cars go and how they got to their current location. Read the comments below the images to learn more.
This is the very start of the track. The green-circled hero car takes the “official path”, with 1 cop car in pursuit, three cars taking a shortcut to occupy key “hiding” spots, and one car (the one at the tail) having a special mission. The two cars that are closest to start waited for few seconds on the start to give the hero a head-start.
Note: Since the start of the track doesn’t look very good with multiple cars (they pass through each other), it’s better not to show it in the video – you may take about 6 seconds of actual racing time to show the track using a camera fly-by. Only when the cars are separated, you should show them.
This is the first technical section of the track. Only one car pursuing so far. With that little actors, fast dynamic cuts are best to make it more lively.
When the hero car leaves the first tech section, four other cars (that took the shortcut) are already ahead of it. Some are already positioned on their waiting spots (red circles), others are still going for those spots.
The hero passed the first waiting car (yellow circle), which now commences the pursuit. The first red-circled car is “parked” near the road border, and will start hunting the hero as soon as he passes by.
The original pursuing car (from the tech section) takes the shortcut in order to avoid the long turn; now the real hunt starts. The blue trails on the right are from the 5th car that will be waiting before finish.
After entering this section, two of the cop cars passed through each other; this ruins any illusion of reality, so we don’t want to show this in the video. Make a note of any such “goofs” and start thinking about alternate shots for this time (in this case, it’s quite easy, since you have 3 other cars to show including the hero).
The sharp chicane (on the left) by coincidence contains a lovely moment when two of the cop cars are driving side by side through it without “colliding” – if shown carefully, this might be very cool.
We’re approaching finish. The fifth car takes off from the small house (with static camera and some MT text, you might label this building “Police station”), but due to its low speed, the cop car with red trails overtakes this parked car and tails the hero.
The fast cop car, however, doesn’t make it through the chicane before finish – it ends on the roof, so the 5th cop car becomes the leader of the hunt.
This should give you some idea of how to build movie-intended tracks and how to make the needed replays. Next week, we will look at the topic of Editing replays for movie purposes…
To be continued…