Amazon Kindle / 2015
Storyboarding, casting, pre-production, production, post-production, VFX, layout, animation, photography, design
“Rogue Winter” Live-Action eBook
"Rogue Winter" was Amazon’s first attempt at publishing live-action content for Kindle in Motion, a technology that adds animation, textures, and cinematography within the pages of otherwise standard eBooks.
The Kindle team showed us the early prototypes for their innovative platform, then invited us to help them create the "Rogue Winter" series, which included two of their first live-action releases: "Tracks of Her Tears" by Melinda Leigh and "Dead in Her Tracks" by Kendra Elliot.
Our goal was to keep the words as the hero and the reading experience uninterrupted. To do this, we kept the visuals subdued, opting for slow-motion shots and straying away from jarring cuts in the edit. We filmed content for the "Rogue Winter" series in nearly 30 locations, including snowy Fairbanks, Alaska.
The first step of eBook pre-production presented a twofold challenge because the visual elements of the story needed to be selected and spaced evenly throughout the book. This had to be accomplished so the material wouldn't suffer from large sections of unaccompanied text, even though certain sections better lent themselves to being depicted visually.
Each chapter allowed for two to five images which would eventually become photos, looping videos, or single-play vignettes, all “triggered” when a page was turned. After selecting the text, we created storyboards, which were placed into a rough mockup of the book.
Each day on set, we learned more about the unique parameters and needs of interactive eBooks. Shooting full-page, vertical footage proved to be the best solution for the reading experience. To accommodate this type of shooting, our team built a special rig for the cameras so we could capture footage both vertically and horizontally, allowing the visuals to adapt if the layout needed to change.
We doubled the frame rate once we discovered slow-motion shots looked most natural next to the text. (Faster movements had the potential to distract the reader.) Recording each scene in a single shot with no edits or cuts also kept distractions to a minimum. All footage was captured at 5K resolution on cinema glass to ensure this new interactive book would be rich and vivid.
Our post-production team color-graded shots and edited looping videos to create seamless transitions between final and first frames.
Several scenes required heavy visual effects (VFX), layering computer-generated images over live action shots. The story was set in a fictional town in southern Oregon during a heavy winter storm, but production began in September and Seattle wouldn’t see its first snow for several months. We filmed as many scenes as possible in Alaska to avoid having to use artificial snow. For scenes that had to be shot on a set, our motion graphics team added computer-generated snow. In other parts of the book, they constructed computer-generated elements such as a neon bar sign, security camera footage, coffee steam, cigarette smoke, and a ski mask added to the face of a running character.
The layout had to complement the imagery, so we added textured page backgrounds that were relevant to the story—snow, gravel, a red satin tablecloth, a dingy-looking motel wall—and helped to create cohesion throughout.
Our goal was to work with the Amazon Kindle team to create an immersive story without the arbitrary or distracting use of visuals; to seamlessly blend text, video, photos, and design in a way that would bring the story to life. The end result was an ambient experience that wrote our book on how to effortlessly infuse live action into Kindle.