Though each of the ads and programme segments needed to have its own identity, they also had to match the game’s tone, cinematic approach to storytelling, muted colour palette and dark sense of humour. They also had to feel like they were created in 2014 – being future focused without seeming too far into the future.
Tylevich remarks that it’s “a very strange thing, creating fabricated content within a fabricated world – which needs to seem real in comparison.”
The other part of Tylevich’s approach that required careful balancing was how much of the mythos of the Metal Gear Solid series to use. Kojima had references to the game that it wanted Logan to include, and it was clear that in-jokes based on previous games would delight hardcore fans – but no-one wanted to alienate players who hadn’t played one of the previous games.
Each ad or programme segment had to “function on its own too, it couldn’t be entirely built on references,” says Tylevich, noting that “hardcore fans can enjoy the material in a much more ‘informed’ way.”
Examples of this include the icky selection of ‘delicacies’ from northern latitudes in Bombshelter Buffet, which references the 1960s Russian setting of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
“The alligator head is also a reference to Snake Eater, in which the hero wore it on his head as camouflage,” says Tylevich. “Obviously the killing of the snake has to do with MGS4 being the final chapter in the story of [the series’ main hero] Liquid Snake, who is now called ‘Old Snake’.”
Other references range from the direct but obscure – the SDV micro submarine from the original Metal Gear Solid reappears in Ocean of Gossip – to the surreal.
Lee Meriwether (who provides the voice of the computer EVA in the game, though is best known as the original Catwoman in the 60's Batman film) appears as the host in Celebrity Moralist, interrogating David Hayter (the voice of Snake).
EVA acts like Snake’s surrogate mother in the game, which Tylevich notes gives the talk-show conversation an extra twist.
The project was put together to a tight schedule. Following Kojima’s approval of the script and storyboard, Logan had two weeks for pre-production and five days for the live action shoot – which had to include shooting in both a sound-stage and at multiple locations.
This was followed by three months of post-production, which was handled by Logan’s sister division Mørk + Lys. By working with their colleagues, Tylevich managed to find ways around the limited budget and post timeframe.
“Having a sister division enabled us to use resources which were not budgeted for,” says Tylevich. “With both Flames occupied 24 hours a day, this meant being able to continue, whereas if we were using another facility we would have run out of available time very quickly.”
For the five-day shoot, most of the footage was captured using the increasingly popular Red One camera, which captures 4K (4,096-x-2,304 pixels) frames to hard disk-based storage units.
“The quality was surprisingly good, even in low-light situations,” says Tylevich, adding that the camera came into its own when shooting the Praying Mantis spot at night downtown LA with just available lights.
“It also allowed us to download the footage at 4K and bypass telecine by doing colour correction on the Flame.”