Hello, my name is Derek Lieu, and I edited the Announce Trailer for Orwell: Ignorance is Strength!
Before I got the gig, the concept for the teaser trailer was already roughed out; it was my job to figure out how to execute on it. The original idea was for it to be 30-45 seconds long, but I tend to ignore those suggestions unless the restriction was set by a 3rd party (e.g. it’s going to be part of a tightly scheduled presentation, or a 30 sec TV spot). My instinct as an editor is to always make things as short as possible anyway.
The core idea was to use news clips to bring up the topic of the proliferation of information in the modern era, and how that can be hindered by the spread of fake news, political agendas, and social media echo chambers. The other idea was to slowly tease out the logo during the trailer. The limiting factor was we had no footage to use from the game, just the logo and colour palette, but constraints for creative projects are good, because they help to find focus!
The first order of business was to watch a lot of clips about the subject matter; I did my best to find a diverse set of voices that spanned the globe. I would’ve loved to include other languages, but adding subtitles would’ve added visual confusion especially since the clips were largely used as voiceover, and the speaker was often not on screen. From the beginning, one of the main directions was to avoid focusing on any one figure too much, or be too US-centric. Though, since I’m from the United States, it probably ended up a little that way since I’m less familiar with news sources from other English speaking countries.
Once I had several hours of clips, I scrubbed through them to find very “big” statements made by newscasters or political figures. In trailers, very big ideas are king because they sound profound, and are communicated very quickly. It was then my job to shape the narrative of the trailer via these clips.
The beginning of the teaser starts by declaring ideas about the state of the world, and posing questions. Then we move onto some “problems” that exist in the world described in the opening. After this there are some more issues brought up, but also potential solutions, and reasons those must be implemented. At this point the trailer is nearly over, there’s a final montage of news clips, and a final statement that sums up the thesis of this possible world we’re building.
The first cuts were just a bit longer, but changes were made to make it less US-centric, and also find a wider range of voices. For the final montage, it might be too difficult to see, but I took great efforts to get a near 50/50 gender parity for the faces, and also represent the international community of political figures. I didn’t get this specific direction, but it was important to me to see that representation.
Another directive was to make sure the audience doesn’t come away from this teaser thinking that the game itself incorporates news clips from the real world. At a certain level, there’s only so much that I can do, but one conscious decision was to always intercut the footage with the logo instead of overlaying one on top of the other. An early idea was to have the news footage appearing on the facets of the shapes, but to keep the elements separate, we didn’t go through with that.
My chief worry while making this teaser was whether or not the audience would accept the use of these real life news clips and people to advertise a video game. While the game is about these topics, I wouldn’t want the audience to think we’re trivializing real life events or consider the juxtaposition in bad taste. One last minute decision was to remove a shot of the womens march protest in Washington D.C. While that event was a pivotal moment in recent history, and very much part of the conversation, I didn’t think that it was in good taste to use it for this piece, so I removed it in favour of a less identifiable shot of protestors.
For the entire process I worked without any music, just some sound design elements that might’ve worked on their own, but in the end the music greatly enhanced the teaser, and tied it together to the Orwell universe.
Thanks to Matt Mclean and Otherworld Agency for their amazing work on the music, and to Drew Taylor and Marla Fitzsimmons at Surprise Attack for coordinating the production!