The Surge

Trailer and in-games cinematics for the game The Surge

CLIENT  Capsule Studio

YEAR  2016

The Surge is the first project of the new post-production studio Capsule based in Paris, produced by Focus Interactive and developed by Deck13 this Action-RPG game take place in a dystopian Future. Capsule has to produce 5 different videos splitted between a Trailer and In-game cinematics.
As a brand new studio we were a small team, but used to work together, we had 4 and half months to start from scratch and deliver those 6:16 minutes of this dystopian world called The Surge.

My role was to produce all the cinematic assets, from the armors to ennemies, weapons but also environments, props, pre-lighting for the ambiance of the shots and scene assembly of a part of the trailer. It was a lot of responsibilities on a really short deadline.
The anatomy work with the two characters and the cloths were made by the talented Character Artist Julien Nicolas.

If I had to define my main goal on The Surge in one word it will be: Efficiency. To find the best balance between quality, realism and productivity.


Months production


Minutes footage


Frames rendered


Assets created

Exoskeleton & Process

Working on In-Game cinematics and trailers mean you are working on an existing universe with its own laws and art direction. So from this you have two goals, the first one is to match to it. The second one is to develop this existing universe, add an extra layer, realism, details, a “woww” effect.
Games have their own laws about style but also technical constraints, the goal is to push them to realism without make them loose their original essence.

We had at disposal all the assets of the game, including everything: characters, environments, props etc… I started first with the Exoskleton which is one of the “hero” asset, it’s seen on almost all shots and also in close up. The two characters of the trailer wear it under there armors.
The process applied to the Exoskeleton has been the same for every assets of the trailer: armors, ennemies, weapons, environment and props.

The first step was to take the Exoskeleton made for the game and analyse it to identify what will be missing to make it work in trailer, both in functionality but also in credibility and realism, it had also to have enough details to work in close up.

I did an overpaint to identify what should be redesigned to add realism and make it functional for animation. During the process the priority was to avoid silhouette breaking of the original design, the best way to have a result still recognizable as the original model from game, a kind of upgrade of the same model.

The image below show you the Before/After with the original Exo rendered in Vray and its overpaint.


Once the validation done on the upgrade and the overpaint, I just had to make the final 3D version and detail the original blockout. A layer of thin scale details were also added, both in 3D modeling and texture. The contrast between macro scale details and micro ones will bring realism to the design and the best way to guide the eye and identify the global scale of the design.
The renders below are a WIP of the Exo, close to its final stage. The character and his clothes was also a WIP of Julien Nicolas, we worked simultaneously on the hero, Warren. Me on hard surface stuff and him and anatomic and organic stuff which was essential to avoid movement and collision problems between the clothes and the exo.


As said upper for the Exoskeleton, all was done with the same process.
On the armors, I tried to play a lot with bolts and screws to better identify the different parts and project us more into the functionality of each one, how they are attached, reinforced and articulated. I also used booleans to machining the heaviest parts and make them a bit lighter with negative shapes, which have for result to renforce the feeling of heaviness.
Colors, silhouette and style of originals designs from game weren’t changed.


For the surgery sequence the process was a bit different, the bed was only existing as a very low poly model and was clearly not designed to be functional for a full surgery sequence in close up, and the robotic arms weren’t existing.I had to rework the bed from scratch, keeping only the global silhouette of the game asset and I had to design the arms to make the surgery sequence possible.

They had to be able to grab mechanics pieces and screw them, some welding/laser tools were also necessary. I decided to split the robotic arms in two category.The first one is the Clamp version, positioned on ground, their task is only to grab and put in place the pieces, to facilitate the operation the second category is positioned on the roof, like this the space is better exploited and avoid some possible collision between the different arms.

This second category is multi-tooled, it can drill, screw, cut or weld. The head of the arm is customizable like the drill tool you have in your garage. Having a multi tool arm permit to reduce the number of necessary arms. The surgery doesn’t need multiple tools at same moment, its split in different steps: from cutting to drilling to screwing and finally welding.

On its side the bed had to be designed to make the surgery possible, it mean Warren, the hero, had to be attached and the bed must be reachable by the arms and have the perfect shape to host Warren and the Exo. I had to cut a lot inside it to add some access for the arms and make some places for the volume of the Exo. The bed is also partially articulated to allow different positions and increase the percent of area and angle to access. Functionality was the main word here, even if the design and production phase was quick it was a really interesting experience to make this surgical operation work.

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In-game Cinematics

Here you can see the final result of the work done for the In-Game cinematics, I applied the same process as previously for the environment.


This is the final result of the work done for the trailer, I applied the same process as previously for all the environment and props. I had a big work of “destroying” and detailing to create this abandoned place. I started from an structured factory in using the environment from game then I started to break it and recreate the effect of time on an abandoned factory with the emergence of rust, dirt and moistness.

The trailer was by far the biggest part of this project with the almost 300 assets I had to rework and integrate to make it both realistic and awesome.