Goodbye Kansas Studios talks about their work on ‘PUBG: Battlegrounds’ trailer

Goodbye Kansas created this cinematic trailer for PUBG: Battlegrounds, which follows the format of Battle Royale – characters fighting until death for survival within a deadline of four months. They needed to include the gameplay, convey the team working together, as well as the emotions of a team fighting for survival. 

The trailer begins with an immersive shot of the game’s world. It opens onto an abandoned building with the backdrop of explosions and guns firing. From behind a car, four characters appear. Aziz says: “Oy Amelia, what’s the deal then?”, and Amelia replies with the order: “Two up top, and two downstairs.”

“Krafton’s team (the team behind PUBG) said, we love your work, we would love you guys to take a stab at this. We want you to convey the emotions of the characters. We want close-ups of the characters in the trailer,” explained project VFX supervisor Felipe Borges from Goodbye Kansas Studios.

PUBG: Battlegrounds is a game set in the typical format of Battle Royale: in a ‘safe area’ map location that is gradually shrinking. During the game, the playable area of the map narrows down on a particular location – the players must ensure they are within perimeters of the map in order to avoid elimination or harm. The players, who are civilians, drop into the world using parachutes and have to scramble for weapons and resources to fight for survival.

Beyond that brief, Goodbye Kansas wanted to share the action, comedy and teamwork elements that are fundamental themes of PUBG: Battlegrounds and the Battle Royale genre. It was important for the team to organise the project by placing their own boundaries on how expansive the project became, to keep focused and deliver a compelling story within the four-month deadline. 

The team started mapping out the project and resources required from the specialist VFX teams involved. They said, “We narrowed the project down. The trailer was two minutes long. We needed to reference the other maps – the playable locations. We knew that we were going to have two teams fighting each other. We knew that we had to make at least seven characters. The next question we asked ourselves was, ‘how big is this map and this world going to be?”

The open brief allowed the Goodbye Kansas team to be creative and work with the visual references suitable for this cinematic trailer.

“We loved the war sequences and grading of the shots in the Christoper Nolan movie, Tenet. One location in PUBG: Battlegrounds is a desert called Miramar, an 8×8 km city-centric map with an open desert plain and rural areas. For that part, we were inspired by the movie, Sicario. In PUBG: Battlegrounds the playable areas that can be fought within are shown on a map. We gathered live-action shots to look at how they were lit and how the atmosphere created in the shots affected the mood of the scene,” said director Emnet Mulugeta. 

The next challenge was to create seven digital humans for this game that would be diverse and interesting characters to play – they needed to be nuanced, yet have the kind of backstories and personas that were intriguing.

“We wanted to build upon the idea that ordinary people get thrown into this world, so we started thinking about personas and backstories. There is a layer of ‘everydayness’ to the people in PUBG: Battlegrounds – then you add guns to the character. Our concept artists took the personas we had created to another level, adding outfits to the characters and rendering them so we could share ideas with Krafton. We’re proud of all seven digital humans we created, but I know Emnet’s favourite character was Amelia, she’s a badass Irish woman,” Borges explained.

Impressed with the characters in Goodbye Kansas created for the trailer, Krafton’s team decided to incorporate them into the game itself, including Amelia.