A Football Game for People Who Love to Play

NMBRS Studio on using Maxon One for their first cinematic trailer for the upcoming video game ‘GOALS.’
By Todd Blankenship

Upcoming free-to-play football game “GOALS” is set to be a cross-play enabled, e-sports-friendly rival to the other few competitors in the football video game space. While there is not yet a lot of information available about the game itself, there is one thing that has gotten some initial buzz—a visually impressive cinematic trailer by the team at NMBRS Studio

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, NMBRS Studio is a group of gaming-inspired, e-sports-loving artists who relied in Maxon One to create a trailer that felt international and inclusive. The message: No matter who or where you are, you can “Play the Best.”

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“Working together with NMBRS is always a pleasure,” says Filip Nordin, head of art at GOALS. “The vast creative output and keen eye to what works is amazing, and the force and attitude they bring into every project is what makes us come back for more! And the fact that NMBRS understood our challenge, brand and tonality; has been a key part in helping us shape our high-level art direction.”

To learn more about the project, we spoke with Victor Hedström, the creative director at NMBRS, as well as 3D Lead Egor Gavrilov.

Please tell us about your studio and how you got started working together?
: I’m the founder of NMBRS, and I started the studio because of my love for gaming and my obsession for e-sports. I worked as an editor and director in the past, but I always felt like I was missing something. Two of my brothers are professional gamers and that inspired me to get into the gaming sphere.

During the process of building NMBRS, I was fortunate enough to come across exceptionally talented individuals who now form the heart and core of our team. We are all interested in gaming, fashion, music and cultural trends, which fosters a comfortable and collaborative working environment. We also try to operate on a flat hierarchy where everyone has a say in the creative process, making it a truly collaborative effort.

How did you get involved in this project, and how did it begin?
: We were approached by GOALS co-founders Andreas Thorstensson and Hampus Ericstam, and we clicked right away. We worked on a teaser to help them secure funding for a new game and, after that, they asked us to create a trailer for their upcoming game.

I started by dashing out a concept where the prime focus was to showcase that it doesn’t matter where you are from, what your background is or if you are poor or rich. The only thing that matters is to become the best by playing the best. I also wanted to include the point that “GOALS” is play to win rather than pay to win. And all of this needed to be wrapped up in a trailer that spoke to the peak of confidence, boldness and action.

Our Creative Producer Tiyam Pour Khabbaz on this project and Egor, our 3D lead, started to really dive deep into the mood boards, color palettes and music references. Finally, we made a cut based on reference videos and pictures to set the mood and tonality of the trailer.

How did the team collaborate and keep a cohesive vision?
: It was not a straightforward task, but we ensured that everyone comprehended the project’s goal. Egor and Tiyam deserve recognition for their performance in maintaining the creative direction. 

As a result, the rest of the team had a clear understanding of where the project was heading. Additionally, we held numerous meetings to keep everyone on track. We typically conduct weekly meetings where team members can showcase their progress and receive feedback to ensure that projects are moving in the right direction.

Talk about camera work and shot choices.
When I started to work on this project, I thought a lot about how I could replicate the feel of the game, and decided to start by showing how football feels in real life. Football is such a dynamic and strategic game where players need to focus on a lot of things at the same time. I watched a lot of commercials for Nike and football in general. 

I’m a big fan of Guy Ritchie’s “Take it to the Next Level” spot for NIKE . I have always liked the feel of dynamic handheld camera movement, but in a computer game it’s quite the opposite, with smooth, clear camera movement focused on the player. I tried to combine the feel of a live dynamic camera with a game camera using different techniques in the creative process.

What sort of tools and process did you use to tackle this concept?
Any sports video should contain dynamic, non-linear movement, and I created this action complexity using various animation tools in Cinema 4D. It made the process of working with the camera almost feel like I was playing football.

I really enjoy experimenting with camera movements and used several methods in this project. For example, I made one camera with keyframe movements only, and another controlled by a small rig comprised of null objects to add more robotic and clean secondary movements. After creating a variety of cameras, I used the camera morphing tools to jump between them. 

I also used animated target tags on cameras in C4D, which gave me the ability to change the angle simply by reassigning which object the camera should follow. Additional animated nulls helped with secondary movement, and a vibrate tag ensured that the movement felt even more randomized and natural.

How was the character animation done for this piece?
We captured the movements for the character using our Xsens motion capture suit. We rented an indoor football field and had the client checking and approving the movements along with our producer and creative director. 

We brought the finished motion capture into the project and applied it to the characters with keyframe cleanup happening later in the process. Uniforms created with Marvelous Designer completed the players.

What new projects are you working on now?

Hedström: We recently finished a big project for League of Legends where we helped LCS create their opening for the spring finals, and we will soon release our new case for the new key art we’ve helped GOALS create. We are also working on our own IP, “Reo,” a more long-format series film. It draws substantial inspiration from anime aesthetics while incorporating a realistic visual style reminiscent of the beloved Final Fantasy: Advent Children. 

The story is about balance, how everything around us always has to be in balance.
We follow Reo, our protagonist, and his crew as they unravel the truth of their world. Along the way, Reo discovers fragments of his own enigmatic past, gradually realizing his pivotal role in preserving the delicate equilibrium of light. As his journey unfolds, we delve into the narrative, witnessing how Reo becomes the key to light retaining the balance.

Todd Blankenship is a writer in Denton, Texas.