Eye Trace is an editing technique so important to good filmmaking and cinematic trailer editing. Eye trace refers to being aware of where the audience’s eyes are focused so that their gaze does not have to bounce around to a new spot when you transition to a new shot.

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer
A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer

Example of Eye Trace in a Cinematic Trailer

Consider a game trailer in which the protagonist leaps on platforms all over the screen. If the character hops from left to right, the audience’s gaze will be drawn to the right side of the screen towards the end of the shot. If the following shot’s focus is on the left, their eye must go all the way to the left.

If the editor and/or filmmaker are unconcerned with the amount of time it takes the audience to re-orient their eyes (particularly over many shots), the audience may become annoyed and give up. They may not realize they’re frustrated, but they’re likely to be perplexed, and they won’t be able to comprehend what they’ve seen until they’ve finished viewing.

When a character jumps from the left to the right, the subsequent shot’s focus shifts to the right as well.

They may pick up where they left off since their eyes were already there. A prominent example is a film Mad Max Fury Road, in which the director center-framed practically everything in the film so that no eye trace problems would occur no matter how fast the editor cut (and it’s cut VERY fast!)

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer
A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer

This is an eye trace based on Position, which is perhaps the most important factor for a trailer editor to consider because it is the one over which they have the greatest control.

>>>Read more: How to Make a Cinematic Trailer: 5 Amazing Tips for Cutting Your Own Trailer

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Trailer

The platforming from shot to shot is remarkably seamless in the superb trailer for Celeste cut by Kert Gartner, with only minor eye adjustment necessary by the audience between views.

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer
A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer

Watch the trailer Here!

It’s not just about being aware of the audience’s eyes; it’s also about directing them. The opportunity to capture film yourself is a benefit of being a game trailer creator. Unlike movie trailer editors, who must work with what they’re given, game trailer creators can smooth out cuts by redoing capture so that the focus of a shot starts and ends where they want it to.

Motion (or absence of motion) is an excellent approach to guide the audience’s eye in addition to position. In a trailer, for example, if the player and four opponents are both moving on screen at the same moment, the viewer’s attention is less likely to be pulled to the player. The audience’s eye will follow the player if the foes are mostly static while the player moves swiftly.

Because it appeals to the way our senses work, this concept may be found in trailers, films, video games, and more. Our gaze is drawn to motion. It’s most likely related to our primal brain’s urge to recognize predators (or prey).

Consider a cat searching beneath a blanket for the tiniest bit of movement, or a Jurassic Park T-Rex unable to see anything unless it moves. You can be more confident that the audience is looking at what you want them to by carefully directing/controlling what is moving on the screen.

Color is another effective strategy for guiding the audience’s gaze, especially when the main and background parts have high contrast. In this circumstance, the editor can only do so much because the game’s art design will make or break this potential.

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer
A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer

SUPERHOT, for example, has extremely bright red opponents that catch attention immediately, whereas the furnishings and weaponry are dark. The enemy will always be the first thing people see, followed by the weapons, and last the scenery.

Not all games contain art components that contrast in such a stunning way as SUPERHOT; in order to optimize contrast, you may need to pick and choose which stages and landscapes to record. For example, if Castle Crashers featured the ice level, the red knight would stand out more than the blue knight. Alternatively, the orange knight would stand out more than the green knight in the forest level.

A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer
A Good Eye Trace in a Game Cinematic Trailer

Castle Crashers has a good color contrast in its art design. The backdrops are muted and low-saturation, allowing the knight’s brilliant colors to shine out.

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To summarize:

  • Check the position of the focus at the conclusion of the first shot when cutting two shots together, and try to align the focus of the second shot to the same point.
  • Contrast the movement of the camera’s attention with the movement of the backdrop objects. Either have it move a lot more or a lot less than anything else.
  • To make the emphasis of the photo stand out from the backdrop, use color contrast or light/dark contrast.

All of this is in the service of knowledge clarity and retention. The more crisp and seamless your game capture and edits are, the more interesting and successful the cinematic trailer will be. The better the trailer, the more likely it is to be shared.

Animost – Vietnam 3D Animation Studio

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