Hi everyone, I’m really excited to share this project with you. I’m working with my good friend Jay Mynahan on a board game that he is developing called “Retreat to Woodbury Falls.” I’m learning quickly that board games, especially indie or “boutique” board games are growing rapidly in popularity. Perhaps people are sick of digitally interacting? Maybe people miss the tactile feel of actual things in their hands? Maybe sitting around a tv in silence isn’t REALLY hanging out with your friends? Admittedly, I was never really a big board game player. However, through this project, I’ve grown a deep appreciation for what goes into a game and the face-to-face social interaction it brings about. It’s been fascinating to watch Jay develop this from scratch. The game has spent the better part of the year in prototype which entails countless hours writing, mapping and play testing. It’s been impressive watching Jay’s commitment to the project and it really gets me inspired and excited to be part of it. Retreat To Woodbury Falls should be ready for release in the fall, where Jay will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to bring the game to market.
So what is Retreat to Woodbury Falls about?
“In the blink of an eye, society as we know it has collapsed. The economy shattered. The cities ravaged with crime and chaos…The law no longer exists…Are you prepared? Where do you go? Retreat to Woodbury Falls is a game where you control three different survivalist leaders in their quest to retreat into the wilderness. Miles away from the lawless city is Woodbury Falls, a patch of land away from the chaos of man, but densely wild and teeming with natures harsh conditions. Players survive by gathering resources and recruiting crucial members to their camps and exile those who hold them back. RTWF utilizes a popular deck management mechanic while still allowing players to control physical board pieces. ”
Much of the artwork is photography based rather than illustrated. This is an exciting departure from what most board games feature for artwork. I’ll be shooting the characters and equipment that will be on the cards, as well as promo materials, and other misc elements. When it’s all said an done, there will be a total of 30 to 40+ images used in the game, It’s exciting for me to work on a project that requires so many cohesive and creative images, It’s practically a playable portfolio! Jay approached me a while ago with the idea, from the beginning he wanted to use photography over illustration.
For the record there is nothing wrong with illustration, it’s the preferred artwork medium among games of all types and genres. Generally the few board games that do use photography tend to be licensed titles from big movies where they use movie stills as the artwork. Imagine if there was a game based on the new Star Trek movie and the game had stills from that movie. What separates this project is that there doesn’t seem to many indie games that produce full scale photo shoots for their artwork. It takes a tremendous amout of planning and work and we think it’s a very different approach to use concept photography for the artwork of this game. Visually speaking, we are going to dark, dirty, and dramatic. It’s edgey, it has a certain quality of badassness, urgency and humanity that can only come from photography.
As for the the poster you see above, We wanted to show some of the characters representing their survivor class, The guy in the middle is a “Hunter,” The guy on the right kneeling is a “Scout,” and the couple on the left represent the “Harvesters.” As the game description implies, these characters were thrust into survival, so for wardrobe we intentionally wanted “normal” clothes. In that regard this look has the urgency of a zombie movie survival rather than a militia/outdoorsman survival, but those characters DO exist in this world and will be featured in other elements of the game. I created the heavy back light to represent the path these characters need to go, while it’s also a cool visual element, in my mind they need to move towards that light, the light to me represents a goal…safety and survival.
While I created the above image from scratch, The logo and graphic design elements for the game were created by the very talented Nick Robinson. A lot of hard work and talent is being put into the game and I’m really happy to be the photographer on this project. It’s been a lot of fun so far!
If your curious how this was shot, check out the Behind the Scenes video shot by Gary Ahmed, he was a huge help on set and did an incredible job with the video. He is also producing a larger behind the scenes video for the development of the game, so keep an eye out for that too.
You’ll also notice we had quite a few people there, Also you see that we had FX makeup by Cori Leyden-Sussler and help from Alan Thomaszewski. Our models did an incredible job. Thanks to Cory, Steve, Jay and Erin
Below are some alternate images that most likely will not be used in the game, but they are some great portraits of our models, I’m really happy with how these came out.
So the poster and box cover are obviously composites. The woods are actually my backyard, Half my property is woods, and the light coming through the trees is always really nice. For shooting the models we used a gray seamless backdrop. I suppose I could have used white or green screen, but I didn’t have those colors in 9ft, I had gray, so thats why we used that color
For lighting I used the following:
Alien Bee B1600 In a FJ Westcott 40″ Apollo Orb (octobox) w/ grid
Alien Bee B800 In a FJ Westcott 28″ Apollo Medium Softbox
4×8 sheet of polystyrene insulation from Lowes as a giant reflector, white side.
I used the 40″ octobox with a grid on a boom arm as the rim light, camera left, That was positioned high, and behind the models. I used the 28″ softbox as my main light camera right. And I used the 4×8 reflector camera left just to bounce a little bit of fill on that side. For the sake of compositing the 28″ Apollo was a great main light because I knew the fall off on the legs would help when I started assembling and blending in Photoshop.
For the portraits I used only the the 40″ apollo orb and the 4×8 reflector. I repositioned the reflector to camera right and had the models stand very close to it. Close enough to bounce some nice light on to their faces and bodies, this was big benefit when using such a big rim light. The end result is very dramatic. When I was editing the photos, I noticed each one had a pretty well defined but nicely graduated center shadow and thought it would be cool to apply some color to the 2 light sources, so in photoshop I added some CTO on the rim light and Cyan to the front fill. One light, Two Colors! I use the pocketwizard plusIII transceivers which now have zoned light assignments, so shutting of my main 28″ apollo was only a matter of hitting a button on the unit attached to my camera, worked really nicely and allowed for a quick transition.
Everything was Shot with a Canon 5d mkii and a 70-200mm 2.8L IS ii
Thanks for checking this out!