Client

Respawn Entertainment

Brand

Respawn Entertainment

Production Company

The Mill

Director

Mill Co-Directors David Lawson and Lisha Tan

Capabilities

Direction / Animation / Design / Colour / VFX / Editorial

Brief

To create an immersive cinematic campaign filled with action-packed trailers to announce the consecutive seasons of the successful game ‘Apex Legends’.

Approach

Mill Co-Directors David Lawson and Lisha Tan set out to create a vivid and stylized immersive world. The Mill’s Creative Technology team developed a complex texturing process, experimenting with neural networks and algorithmic solutions, to give the CG assets a hand-painted and paint brushed look.

Impact

Four bold, iconic and distinctive films that were viewed by millions across the world. Apex Legends Season 3 'Meltdown Launch' received 7.5 million views, Apex Legends Season 2 'Battle Charge' received over 2.4 million views, Apex Legends 'Reveal Trailer' received over 5.4 million views and Apex Legends 'Assimilation Launch' has gained 1.4 million views so far.

Lisha’s background is in fine art and animation, having previously directed high-profile projects including Jay-Z ‘The Story of O.J’ and Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation ‘Losing Your Hair’. David’s legacy is in award-winning and complex CG includes co-directing the recent Marvel ‘Strike Force’ campaign. This project sees the coming together of these two distinct styles and approaches.

The ‘Moving Concept Art’ look was inspired by archive gaming concepts and the existing Titanfall universe concepts. The Mill applied a fresh new aesthetic, blending both the director’s creative visions and resulting in the illustrative painted effect.

The performances of the lead-characters Mirage and Wraith, directed by Lisha and David were shot using motion-capture technology. The design and CG teams worked with a vast number of independent elements to create the stylized world. The Mill’s Creative Technology department developed a complex texturing process, experimenting with neural networks and algorithmic solutions, to give all the CG assets a hand-painted and paint brushed look.

“The best part about the project was that very early on we found our north star for the visual look.  From there it was all about figuring out how to bring that style to life and make it as compelling as possible.”
Drew Stauffer, Creative Director, Marketing of Electronic Arts / Respawn Entertainment

To define flashback content, present-day narrative and maintain a holistic vision, Mill Co-Directors David Lawson and Lisha Tan took the unusual step of developing a colour script, setting a palette for each scene. Mill Colourist, Matt Osbourne, took this script and applied a final grade that separated the colours and elevated the look.

Lisha Tan, Director, comments, “It was a privilege to immerse myself in a world that I already found creatively inspiring, to showcase the backstory and personality of these characters for this huge launch. The seamless creative collaboration with an extraordinary team, my background in design and illustration, and David’s award-winning CG experience enabled us to create a new way of telling the complex characters’ stories, whilst honoring the legacy of the Titanfall universe.”

“Apex was such a fun project to direct, it was a great script and challenge set by Respawn and it also gave myself and Lisha the chance to really express ourselves within action-packed stories. It was so amazing to have the team at The Mill, the actors and all our other creative partners pour themselves into this.”
David Lawson, Director at The Mill
“The collaboration between Respawn and The Mill was incredibly smooth and fluid. The constant communication, honesty, and trust on both sides was a key to our success.”
Drew Stauffer, Creative Director, Marketing of Electronic Arts / Respawn Entertainment

Most recently, we joined forces with Respawn Entertainment on the launch of the new Apex Legends ‘Assimilation Launch Trailer’. Directors Lisha Tan and David Lawson crafted an action-packed journey to promote the new season. The film introduces Apex Legend’s most sinister character yet, Revenant, and the cinematic world of Apex Legends takes a dark turn as the trailer explores an all-new environment. Working once again with motion capture technology, the team was able to obtain choreographed, long-form stunts that translated seamlessly into the world of Apex Legends.

Mill Director David Lawson comments: “Focusing heavily on pre-production allowed us the time to work with a world-class stunt coordinator. We were able to prep for five days to execute such high levels of stunt work. Utilizing motion-captured enabled us to translate the raw intensity from the stunt performance into the final film. We tried to focus on longer takes that would portray the full actors’ performance in order to deliver the narrative, as opposed to the shorter trailer shots we had done in previous work.”