James Patterson | 1st Case

The hunter becomes the hunted in this cyberpunk book trailer for James Patterson’s new thriller, 1st Case

A few of the book promos we’ve made for James Patterson and Hachette Book Group are dark. Some are fun! Some tell stories, and some are visually arresting. But, this trailer for 1st Case has it all! With a strong narrative and a grungy, neon-drenched look, it’s a bonafide hacker-themed dream.

As an MIT-trained computer genius, we knew our protagonist, Angela, needed a stellar work station. So Melissa St. Claire, Producer/Production Designer extraordinaire, turned our studio into a cyberpunk wonderland.

But 1st Case is a thriller. Angela’s awesome rig wasn’t enough. We needed tension. Stakes! And that’s where director Cameron Shaw came in. Inspired by the book, he built a narrative in which Angela’s research into a brutal murder is cut short by a hack from the killer himself! Director of photography, Trey Gregory, captured an array of medium shots, then moved to extreme close ups. In the edit, we cut to tighter and tighter shots throughout, enhancing the feeling that even as Angela hunts for the killer, the walls are closing in around her, too.

But where’d those photos, news articles, and all that hacker-ly code come from? Elite animator Seth Johnson, of course! Using Adobe After Effects, Seth also designed everything from the “decrypting” of the phone to the killer’s waveform audio. He spliced together elements from real news sites to create believable webpages, and used CSI training photos of a staged crime scene to recreate the murder in the book. That’s right! No real crime scenes were created to make this trailer. Then, we played the animations on the screens in real time. No greenscreens here!

Realistic hacking? Maybe not. But when it came to making a compelling commercial, we totally hacked the mainframe!

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