I have finally gotten around to releasing my second FMV (Fan Music Video). You can watch it here. It was a first for me in that the source material is a video game. Specifically, Homeworld: Remastered (a remaster of the 1999 classic) and briefly Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak (A 2016 prequel).

Homeworld has always been very special to me. It is an excellently constructed game, with unique gameplay mechanics (full 3d unit movement), excellent graphics, strong art direction (see Peter Elson, the Terran Trade Authority Books, and this fan site). I have played it and its sequels many times and I have always wanted to pay tribute to it in some form

Here is what the finished project looks like:

This FMV was a huge technical challenge for me. I would have to capture almost all the video clips I needed (minus some cinematics) and work with three different styles (Homeworld Remastered, its black and white cinematics, and Deserts of Kharak). I did a lot of research and testing on various capture solutions, eventually settling on the excellent and open source OBS (https://obsproject.com/). While testing this tool, I found only recording at the highest quality (lossless) captures the vibrant color of the ships and backgrounds of Homeworld which is critical to the end product. This resulted in huge video files, about 100MB for every 5 seconds compared to 61GBs compared to my average size ~5GBs. Thankfully, Sony Vegas had no problems handling these large files. Painful as it was to work with all these large clips, it did allow me full freedom in selecting the shots I wanted as all I had to do was move the camera and record. This was made easy since both Homeworld games have a cinematic mode which hides the UI except for the pointer which can be hidden by holding the right mouse button down. All this freedom can be a challenge however as you get to decide what you want, instead of working from a set palette of clips. More freedom, but more indecision. It was a new experience in that regard as I had to have more of a director's eye rather than being given everything to start with. This does help cut down on all the time trawling though episodes to find what you need, but It is replaced by lots of recording and lots of thinking you are recording only to realize you forgot. For the story, I wanted to present the full journey through the first game so I took highlights from most missions, skipping missions that did not contribute to the main story. It was tough to get a few shots given a game is going on, but judicious saving made it easy to get most of the clips I wanted. Finally of note, the end product is letterboxed a bit. I did this because the cinematics from the first game are letterboxed and it was distracting to see the bars appear and disappear as the video went on.

I submitted this FMV to Connecticon 2017, but it was not accepted as a finalist. I was a bit bummed by that as I thought it was pretty good (biased though I am). I will take it as a challenge to submit a better one next year.

Scene Breakdown I have a couple comments on various parts of the FMV. You can think of this as a textual director's commentary.

0:00-0:03: I love using voices from the source material and having a cold (music-less) open. This clip is actually frozen until the hyperspace window appears at 0:04. It was too hard to capture the mothership (the banana ship) and Kharak (the planet behind the mothership) standing still and then hyperspacing in one shot. You can see a tiny bit of the hyperspace window, but it is hard to spot (IMHO).

0:29: This shot comes from Deserts of Kharak. It actually has a bit more of a letterbox than the clips from Remastered, but it is not that noticeable (IMHO).

0:44: The next few clips are from an in game captured log of the attack on Kharak so it intentionally has static and a timer in the upper right. There is nothing I can do about it so I left it as is.

0:55-0:56: I love the explosion of the space station blending into the cinematic explosion. It works really well.

1:04-1:13: One of the weaker parts of the video if I am being critical. I had to introduce this ship (as it is very important latter), but it is not very interesting otherwise.

1:16: This clip is stretched a tiny bit since some of the UI actually crept in on the edge and I had to hide it. At long distances in Homeworld: Remastered ships get a border that cannot be hidden.

1:24: This is a cool shot of a lot of ships, but I have no idea how that ion frigate got so out of formation at the bottom.

1:35-1:36: I think the abrupt song transition from fast paced to slow is very well complimented by the shot selection here.

1:44: These are cryostasis pods which might not be apparent if you have not played the game.

1:54: This shot of the hyperspace inhibitor is actually not from the cinematic montage of enemy structures used in the previous clip. It will become important latter on so I wanted to set it up here.

1:58: We can start to see some of the great color usage in the game as it goes from a black background to a vibrant red here to orange and yellow as we go on. You can really see this gradual color change in the project picture.

2:13-2:17: Really cool shot of some bombers making a run on the Kadeshi needle. I setup to record just the bombers and got lucky one was destroyed during the filming.

2:17-2:20: This ship is an important story piece so I set it up by including it here.

2:23-2:29: Again, I got lucky here as the camera automatically zooms out to prevent clipping into a ship. It gave this great shot that goes from being tight on the fighters to wide as they break off showing all the capital ships in play.

2:31: Those are actually captured enemy destroyers in the background (there is an ingame capture mechanic). It would be confusing for someone not familiar with the game to see them up close, but it is far enough away and well obscured so I thought it was ok to cheat just this once. This was some of the first footage I recorded and I had forgot about that mechanic. Gamewise, capturing everything is always the correct strategy which is why it was heavily nerfed in the sequels.

3:43: I probably overdid it with carrier explosions as here is a second one.

3:47: This is captain Elson in his black destroyer. He is very important to the game, but hard to explain without words. I do not think I succeed in conveying that to people who are not fans of the game.

3:59: I love the strange angle the multigun corvette is taking as it comes into the shot in the lower left.

4:03: A great shot, but for this mission the head on approach is very costly. Two cloak generators in the middle of a tight ship formation is far more effective.

4:04: You can see the turrets on this heavy cruiser moving, but not firing. I am not sure if that was a bug, but I let it be.

4:10-4:12 Probably the hardest shot to get. I had to get both the homeworld and the mothership in frame. It took a number of reloads to get it just right.

4:13: This attack in Remastered is actually very different from the original as it is far more aggressive and reckless. Thus the Remastered version has a big difficulty spike here.

4:23-4:25: A very Michael Bay-esque shot here with multiple ships moving at multiple distances from the camera.

4:29-4:30: I got lucky with this shot as the missile strike destroys the fighter right on a music beat.

4:41: I think I should have held this end shot a bit longer. The song ends pretty quickly, but we need some time to decompress.

Conclusion Overall, I really like how this came out. I think it struggles a bit with some boring shots that do not make sense if you are not a fan or familiar with the game, but it was fun to make and a interesting technical challenge. Look for something more familiar for my next project.