It's premiere week for "Echoes of 2019", Style-Productions' yearly tribute to a bygone year of CS:GO, and the classic fragmovie.
Here at TLDR we're suckers for both CS:GO (duh) and classic fragmovies, so we wanted to celebrate the premiere by giving you a rare peek behind the curtain. What is the process for realizing a project like Echoes, how many times did their video editing software crash and how come that 3K we submitted isn't in there?
Anthony Perfetto, one of the producers in Style-Productions, says that the production of the first Echoes-movie, "Echoes of 2016" actually started as a joke.
"You can thank Niklas aka 'cRZYFST' for the inception of the Echoes series", Anthony said. "One random day in January of 2016, he posted in our private forums something along the lines of 'Hey, you know those end of the year movies that highlight all the frags from the past year… what if we started doing that ourselves?'".
Anthony says that the suggestion was seeped in sarcasm, but as the team realized they were all looking for a new project at the time, it became "a no brainer to share the work load for one".
Worked together for 15 years
Creating a CS-movie is no easy feat in usual circumstances, but when you put several producers together to create a CS-movie that is 10+ minutes long, the project can suddenly grow in every which direction.
According to Anthony the first project was a daunting challenge for the team. "Originally, planning an Echoes movie involved a lot of hashing out of technical settings" he explained and went on to add that they used to start planning the movies at the beginning of each year.
On the verge of the premiere of Echoes of 2019, Anthony said that the team has a much different process to what they originally started with. "Now when we plan one, it’s mostly just us focusing on a soundtrack theme and the order of the fragparts".
When asked about the reason for the change, Anthony said that the team trusts each other. "We’ve worked with each other for 14 years now, so we trust each other enough that we don’t need to micromanage before and during production". It also means that the production time has dramatically been reduced. "It’s been getting later and later each year. For Echoes of 2019, we started in July" Anthony said.
Trust or not, Echoes of 2019 is still a monumental project and Anthony laughed as he laid it bare for us. "As for the amount of work that goes into it? Well, it’s a year later and we just barely finished. I’ll let you do the math" he said with a smile.
"We want to do justice to all the great moments of our game"
Taking on a project that takes one year to complete would make most people lose motivation, we can't even grind one day of FACEIT without being on the verge of uninstalling CS:GO, but to Anthony, Echoes is more than "just" a frag movie.
"We thought we could bring back the more artistic and epic style that fragmovies used to have in CS 1.5 and 1.6. With Echoes we wanted to accomplish that" he said, when asked about why the team took on such a big project, and went on.
The production of Echoes is a work of love for the guys in Style-Production. For them the CS frag movie is an art form, which gives them an outlet that in Anthony's words lets them "express ourselves while also paying homage to CS in a really creative way".
At the end of the day however, Echoes is a reaction to what Anthony and the other producers felt was a disservice done to the great performances throughout a year.
"Bluntly put, we weren’t happy with the quality of the movies being released that covered the year’s best frags. They were usually rushed and not given the love that they deserve. We want to do justice to all the great moments of our game" he said.
The toughest job
And celebrating the great moments is exactly what each rendition of Echoes does. Not least due to the conscious effort from the entire team, according to Anthony. "Narratives are probably the biggest thing for us when cataloging clips" he said and continued "We ask questions like 'What was impactful during an important tournament?', 'What rocked the community and was the catalyst for prolonged discussions among fans?'".
With those narratives in hand, the producers sit down and sketch out the overall frame of the movie, while also deciding which arcs they want to dive deeper into. "We take these variables into account when deciding on what not only makes the cut, but deserves its own special moment in our movie" Anthony explained.
At that point the outline is starting to form and the producers get to work, but this is where the toughest part of the production comes. Because how do you pick among the hundreds, if not thousands, of highlight worthy clips during a year?
According to Anthony, you turn your heart cold and go to work. "It’s incredibly difficult, at times, to make the decision to cut frag sequences. Some are really good and deserve a spot in the movie, but might just be too long or clunky".
F in chat for JW
It is an important duty though, because if you don't, then the flow and tempo that is essential to the Echoes-production will be ruined. "Forcing frags into your movie is a quick way to ruin the energy and rhythm an editor should work hard to create" Anthony said.
This task means that a lot of amazing frags will never see the light in the final product. Being of curious nature, we obviously had to ask Anthony if he could divulge any particular clips that he felt bad for cutting out.
He didn't want to share individual frags that the team had cut, but did tell us that the team had been harsh on AWPers and JW in particular.
"We had to cut a lot of JW’s flashy awp kills and flicks unfortunately" he said and went on to explain that the same was true for two other highlight-maestros. "We also cut a fair few frags from gratisfaction and kennyS".
According to Anthony there is however a good reasoning for that, because despite enjoying the flashy flicks from some of the old- and newschool greats, sometimes those frags "just don’t hold the weight necessary to make the movie". Unluko Maluko, like JW himself would have said, or as Anthony added laughingly "F in chat for JW".
5 things you didn't know about Echoes of 2019
- The two main editors, Anthony and Daniel Hagelin, are both working in esports in their day-jobs. Anthony works for DNPeek and Daniel is a video editor for DreamHack. Friends of the TLDR <3
- The pair has known each other for 14 years, having worked together in Style-Productions since 2006. The producer collective, which was founded during a lunch break by "a group of Norwegians", is from 2004. Norwegian CS > UKCS.
- While editing Echoes of 2019, Anthony estimates that his editing software crashed 0 times. Meanwhile Daniel speant several nights trying to fix his never-ending crashes. We'll never complain about stutter in CS:GO again.
- The best part of editing a fragmovie is "syncing a frag sequence to one of your favorite songs" according to Anthony.
- As a producer pair, Anthony and Daniel have quite similar editing styles, but the only part they made together in Echoes of 2019 was the intro. They went through 3 iterations before deciding on the one you see today.