Call of Duty frag highlights review: Mazarini and paradox Play With Soul

The following clip refers to the video available in the following location:
http://www.clanheat.com.au/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7389&p=63021#p63021
It is assumed that you have seen this clip before, as it contains an indepth analysis of the video itself.

Sometimes there are videos that ooze so much effort and dedication, they are just begging to be written about. It’s common to write about actual movies with a script, budget and actors, but there is many other facets of videos which can appeal to people. There are short viral videos which lends itself well to youtube, artistic independent films, and music videos. All of them have their own fans.

Mazarini and paradox: Play with soul is a frag highlights clip that is by far the largest scale production I have seen for Call of Duty 4, and is a serious contender for any other game’s clip highlights as well. It contains frags from players Mazarini and Paradox, both playing for the clan eSuba. Both professional players, taking on skilled players. The clips themselves are highlights from both players while they have been playing Call of Duty 4 in the previous few years, with production of Play with soul being in progress for over a year.

In contrast to many other clips taking typically a few months to complete, this shows a lot of source material as well as Mazarini’s dedication, and perseverance to be able to turn out a finished clip that is of an excellent standard.

 

Packaging of the Play with Soul is unconventional – besides a generous packaging with the settings for the in-game film tweaks, The actual clip is weighing in at 931meg. This is extremely large, and would be a turn off for anyone worried about their download limits with their Internet provider. However, for the download, you get 320kbps MP3 compressed audio. This level of audio quality will be higher than what many people listening on a computer with medium quality headphones will even be able to put out to your ears, and will be a joy for audiophiles to listen too, is this actual clip suits them. The video transfer sits at a high 9mbps H264. This quality level will would beat a lower quality codec given from a actual bluray. A suprise is the framerate, which sits at a much higher than normal 50 frames per second. This does help in smoothness for effects, but does require the larger bitrate to stop artifacting from creeping in.

Minor touches such as internet meme’s sprinkled in with his major use of 3d animation is used in a way to become sandwich bread, being a nice package for a meaty steak of colour corrected, well textured weapons in the middle.

The length of Play with Soul is larger than most as well – a satirical 13:37 poking fun with gamers not likely to pick up on the lengths meaning right away. The length would have been a worry, as padding is something which sits negatively in anything, but especially so in a synched collection of frags – it can show a sign of laziness. In this case though, In the rare times when actual killls are not happening, amazing transitions are happening between scenes.

For other people interested in the standout effects, I will document them in order with their location in the video itself.

Logos for the beginning is very short, of note the button bashers orchestral sound being a nice segue to the first music track.

Mazarini’s first kill for backlot involves many effects to show his last-second kill, and makes for a great introduction for the video itself. It begins with a video aligned in 3d space to the wall of the building, giving a glimpse at the real life person himself, along with the avatar at the bottom right for most clips from now on. Walking through one of the celebration clips makes for a interesting use of filling in space leading up to the kill, and hopefully something we see more of in the future. This is used well again at 0:31, with the image placement on the wall doing well as a visual way of telling the viewer, and Mazarini to stay on their game.
Commentary is then used to lead on to the first fully 3d animated section. This means the models and texturing from the call of duty engine are extracted out to a dedicated 3D modelling program as a base, which gives the creator freedom to do things that’s not possible inside the Call of Duty 4 engine itself. This gives unrestricted camera movement – a excellent choice to establish lead up shots. Mazarini has gone a step further here, using character animation to extend the clips intent of a cat and mouse chase scene. The first 3D section beginning at 0:40 seconds is a minor letdown, but due to the darkness of the clip is hard to spot. The character is holding their gun in their right hand in a awkward angle, and the intent of the shot seems to be to show the character running and hiding. Instead, with the arms stretched out it lends to a awkward running cycle, that looks like a dance instead.
Two more shots follow after (beginning at 0:49), with a Matrix style rotating frozen time body shot as Mazarini jumps down, and the next being a well transitioned regaining composure shot, with his gun coming into view.

The viewpoint then goes back into first person, with well enveloped time warping used to convey the fast reflexes in taking out the player. The excellent texturing is present during a slowed reload, giving time for the excited commentators to chime in to bring the kill back into perspective.

A edge filter type effect is used to help bring the shot to black, and begins another wow moment for Play with soul, beginning at 1:07. A continuous 3D shot shows a construction of the map crossfire, which will have many players familiar with the map drop their jaw with the revisioning of a map they’ve never seen in this type of perspective. The construction of the buildings reminds me of inception, but have their own character as they come to life with a combination of wireframe, and washed out high contrast colouring. Movements of cars and bus may have been a conceptually simple effect to do with a reverse keyframing style of animation done, however the execution is amazing leading up to the titling at 1:33. The 3D space is again put to use, with shadowing and reflections used well. A minor gripe would be that a dark background is used, with the first line of text quickly becoming dark and hard to read. This may force the viewer to rewatch this section, even with the clever re-use of wireframed models briefly highlighting each word to the beat of the music clip.

Another special mention for this large shot is a camera dolly around a character, which reveals he is a sniper, and thus begins the next kill highlight sequence.

The next 3d shot happens shortly after, at 1:58. This is to show the delicate aim needed to track a player in mid air while using a gun intended for long range shots. A psuedo lens flare on the snipers teeth would make for a good Colgate ad poster. The shot itself uses a nice use of seperating the red green and blue channels to help convey the power of the shot.

Only 10 seconds latter, another 3D shot occurs, to set up a fictional state where the character free-runs to the top of a wall, regaining composure then takes a shot. The transition is done well back to first person, with again time resuming back in first person.
A synchronised clip of sniper shots begins at 2:15, and ending at 2:25. The next shot is in district, with the player watching a group of clan |CF| players running past. A creatively striking shot is used with typography being used as scale to represent them, fading into the words written on a wall, reminding me of the shining, and “redrum”.

A music synching and appears music track change occurs beginning 2:42, with a stylish and well animated character walking through a door, to the top sniper section of crossfire. It’s use of black followed by a static shot is broken up well with an animated cockroach scuttling into the light, keeping the viewer interested as the next kill sequence begins.

The extensive re-rendering of source material is shown at 3:02, with a clever use of the wireframe view is used with a blue pixelised block effect, subtly highlighting the players running in the statue area.

More free running occurs with a 3D animated shot at 3:12, with a clever way to show a player using the ledge of a building, with beat matched movement helping the synchronisation of the track to a remix of an old favourite of “hit the road jack”, which has appeal even outside a gamer audience as a hook.

3D Black text is aligned well to show movement of the character as they run up steps, wit ha large kill streak impressing.

At this point there have been many changes in tonal colour grading, and deserves special mention in that he uses colour contrast at 3:35, as he enters A bomb on vacant with a blue tinted building offset with bright, green coloured outside.

Ghosted ingame camera positioning is used to give a time-trial appearance of the character beginning 3:45, used well to lead up to a beat matched kill sequence done through smoke.

To illustrate two player perspectives, at 4:18 a nicely done spiralling wipe transition is used to show the perspective of a scope, used to tag and assist in taking down an enemy player. Colour grading is used well to indicate which half of the screen to look at.

The next shot at 4:25 is a odd use of stereo panning for music, which still sits out for me as an unneeded effect, but still does well in keeping the music fresh.

A clever use of 3d to begin a shot begins at 4:50, with the player (in first person) has a 3D Composited clip where they take off their sunglasses.
The next shot again is a stand out in that edge filtering is used to blend the gun hand to another shot, with the static objects of the world are bought back in with a manually keyframed solid light left to right building of the world.

A music track change occurs at 5:15, with the original track ending quickly, and the next building on itself, giving the video editor time to composite a 3D animation to setup the positioning of where the enemy characters are. The Trolling character at 5:25 helps convey the trap for the rest of the shot.

Synchronisation with the music also visually occurs with the word “angels” bringing a green halo effect above a killed player in the middle of backlot.

Another first of its kind of effect seen for me begins at 6:20, with a 3D Blending of two clips beginning with a player throwing a grenade into the screen, panning back to reveal a build up of the level crossfire at an inception like mindwarping angle, complete with angular building up of it while the previous shot is still in view. Of note is the bottom left fence being manually cut up and reverse keyframed to help reveal the lower third players. It takes a motion zoomed transition to continue jarring the player as the first person clip continues.

A playful use of wording on walls is used at 6:42, with the word Denied appeared after a takedown of a counter to a sniper kill, with the text growing and scaling well. This effect is used on a 2d  plane at 6:57.

The sniper scope is picked up from a chair with a composited 3d clip done well to move into that section.

Players are re-rendered on a separate layer at 7:20, to highlight the kills being done through smoke, while still showing what their actual position at the time was. To illustrate the apparant ease of kill, a reload is mixed in with a cigarette being produced at the end of a round at 7:42.

A change in the pace of music begins at 7:46, with a count down being blended in with the ground and air as a player bounce jumps through the B bomb section of strike, helping the music synchronisation without breaking the flow of the sequence itself. The music then changes pace again quickly, with a clever use of connection interrupted used to give the appearance of a lagged connection – done by warping time creatively.

Free running is again used at 8:25, with the players legs actually visible,  with a fully 3D shot to help setup a kill sequence, where as the player is standing back up, a gallery collection of photos flashes by in 3D space. The depth and variety of photos does well to show the players heritage and adds to the entire movies authenticity.

3D titling is used with reflections in a scene only possible in an entirely 3d scene, with the positioning of the reflections are used to show the characters model while highlighting it is a 2 vs 5 clip. During this clip, the take down of a player is composed very well with ingame, and entirely 3d footage, as the take down from 9:00 of Mazarini with the jumping flip from paradox down to bottom has the additional benefit of helping compress time. During the entire shot, the promod style player indicators are present which helps to continue the flow of it being a clip that appears to be somehow possible in a real demo for a viewer. The short length of the clip helps aid the illusion extremely well. It’s barely worth mentioning that the player is seen jumping down to the grass, yet the kills recommence inside the lower level of the building of backlot.

At 9:20, another music change occurs, with black 3d dissolving text being used as a way to support the use of the situation being a trap, complete with the text ending up dissolving into a 3d character which the perspective is used as the frame for the ingame clip to commence. During this sequence, general Ackbar is seen at the rear window as a reinforcement of the trap message in a humorous way. It took a few replays to decipher the intent of the 3D composite with the hand at 9:40, which I found to be a wiping away of hair by the looks. The procedural nature of the hair can be easily mistaken for a common effect done with after effects with the appearance of firey-tendrils.

The makers use of free running again at 9:50 is a well animated section of a sniper flipping backwards into action, which has already put the count of 3D only shots to an extraordinary amount. This does not let up, with another one at 9:58, which would not look out of place in any kind of movie with the player getting a lift from a 3D animated supporting charecter. On re-watching it multiple times, it’s a bit jarring to not see that player again in the continuing shot, but absolutely does nothing to break the effect of the sequence itself at all. The motion itself of the players perspective lift works well, with a “FUUUU” face being placed in the briefcase being opened.
Even more 3D occurs with an animation of a player putting on their cap, setting up the difficulty of the shots done leading into the alley of crash. A minor gripe is the transition from the eyeball is a bit cliched, and is a sudden cut, which is understandable given the tight timing needed for the sequence. During this sequence, I always laugh at loud at the way of continuing the sequence and showing the movement of the character going to sandbags – by a separate demo being used of a player clipping upward, and proning forward. The effect reminds me of a levitating or dragon ball z ascension type of effect. The entire sequence does well to transition to a 20 second long densely packed collection of high speed sniper kills timed well to the music.

At 10:45, the clip is blurred, with the player model of the next demo transitions in with a pixelised, motion trailing effect. The blur in the background then transitions cleanly to the actual ingame frag well.

Although the ingame sound is soft and muted, the actual knife kill at 10:58 is highlighted by a screen filling of blood to show the kill well.

Players rendered separately is done again in a solid method beginning 11:39 during the announcers use of “sexy call f duty” to give the viewer more time to recognize the rush of players about to happen.

With the clip almost finished, a over the top 3D clip is used, with a fighting sequence done in close quarters combat. Fire is in the building in the background, and multiple props used. The quality of animation is good but not great, for example with the AK being thrown at 12:39. However, the quality of the character interaction is fantastic with impacts. The clips length shows that an amazing amount of time would have been expended in making this sequence alone.

For the entire length, background and overall production of this frag highlight collection, the length of the credits, and its presentation is surprisingly minimal. The fact that the credits tie in with the end of the previous sequence also shows how little amount of time was available, without them starting a new clip. It is quite possible at this point trimming was made to allow the clip to get it’s “1337” time length.

Some questions still exist about some parts of the movie, for example most people would likely ask about why the teddy bear is used in some parts, beginning with the commentary and gallery of photos – and I don’t really have an answer for that.

Having read this far, you should have an extensive knowledge of the amount of shots used, and methods that are employed in the making of Play with Soul, and it should help you well in researching for your own editing of clips for gaming or otherwise.

As for the clip itself – I think it goes without saying that it’s excellent in all areas, hence this post digging further in to it. The kills themselves, to the amount of polish with extra shots for continuity and flow are amazing. To say it is a sandwich like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, is an understatement – this is a full course banquet of a frag collection, and he deserves all recognition for creating it.