The Making of The Republic of Thieves Book Trailer (a special guest post)

republic and bookmarksThe Republic of Thieves is nearly here (in bookshops on Thursday)! All this week we’ll be counting down the days until publication. Tomorrow we’ll be revealing the epic trailer created by the incredible filmmaker Milena Aijala. Trust us, it is not only epic but stunning.  When we found Milena’s trailer for The Lies of Locke Lamora on Vimeo we knew that we wanted to work with her to create the perfect trailer for The Republic of Thieves and over the past few months we’ve been quietly plotting away. Milena has done an amazing job and we can’t wait to share the trailer with you  tomorrow. In the meantime we asked Milena to write us a blog post about the process of creating The Republic of Thieves trailer. 

Creating an animated book trailer is like making a series of illustrations that also need to work as an independent short narrative. In the case of The Republic of Thieves, a brick with more than enough characters, events and striking visuals to choose from, it was quite a challenge to pick and choose what would fit in the duration of the trailer. A perfect trailer would bring forward the main setup of the book: the important relationships, the world, the general feel of the story.

I decided my ultimate aim would  be to take a dip in the elements of The Republic of Thieves that would leave the audience as excited for the book as they should be – but without giving too much away. Ideally, the imagery will be puzzling until the reader reaches the right moment in the book and finally gets it.

This mission statement governed the entire process of visualising, planning and executing the piece.

The visual style of the trailer had already been established in my previous work for The Lies of Locke Lamora; but while two books from the same series obviously share similarities in style, the differences are just as important. The desire to emphasize this point influenced the choice of scenes, elements and even the colour scheme.

Part of the freshness comes from the fact that we get to explore a few distinct new locations, which I of course wanted to depict in some way. Coming up with an appropriate design for Karthain was a central part of the trailer’s development. To help with the task, I had the fortune of talking with Scott Lynch as well as taking a quick visit to Italy for architectural reference sketches. The rest was all about trying to think of clever ways to simplify complicated landscapes into silhouetted layers that would work well in animation.

These ingredients turned into a storyboard and a colour script that guided the making of the final illustrations. In the end, the digital paintings produced are put into a 3D space in AfterEffects like props on a stage and animated.

The work isn’t all about scribbling away on computer, either. A lot of extra effects were made by shooting live action plates. There’s splashing water, lights, a melting effect made with ink and gravity, scribbling Bondsmage’s tattoos on my wrist for reference purposes… Partly because the organic look trumps computer simulations in my book, mostly because there’s no reason not to do everything in the most fun way possible.

Here is a teaser image from the trailer. Let us know what you think in the comments below! You can find out more about Milena’s videos by visiting her on Vimeo. You can find out more about Milena’s art by visiting her Tumblr. 

Locke Lamora trailer still