[Newsletter Archive] Making Of: Soundless’s New Opening

Originally published September 10, 2022.

Opening sequences for our visual novels have always been something I’ve dreamed of, but now, THE DREAM IS REAL.

A screenshot of the Adobe After Effects workspace for the Soundless opening.

Opening movies are what first got me into visual novels. If it weren’t for (a misheard lyrics version of) Nursery Rhyme‘s opening (link)* appearing in my recommended on YouTube when my age was in the single digits, I don’t really know if I’d be here writing this right now?

Because of that, I’ve always really wanted to make an opening movie for a visual novel I made. I’ve played around with various editing programs throughout my life, and unfortunately, it’s been easier for me to comprehend timeline-based editing over node-based editing. Making a proper opening video with motion graphics would have been a time-consuming process and wouldn’t have even been considered for Final Verse had it not been for a friend helping me get the full Adobe suite. Thank you!!

Opening Fanatic’s First Opening

Now with a tool that I could easily understand nearly right out the gate (After Effects), it was time to get started on the opening. I always personally regarded Ramine’s (link) 裏路地 (Backstreet) as the “main theme” of Soundless, primarily because it fits right in with the oppressive, industrial tracks that really make the Three Denpa Kings shine to me. It also serves as a rather defining leitmotif of Mercy’s situation (or at least as defining as a free-use track can get). So, selecting it as the opening song was an easy decision. I cut it to a good opening-friendly length and that was that.

Next, however, came figuring out exactly what would happen. I took inspiration from both the opening sequence of Jisatsu101 and SayoOshi‘s demo movie, as well as the various Makki, shoujobyou. teasers that had been released while it was in production hell. I also wanted to continue the trend of everything in Soundless looking like it’s part of a time period that’s older than it actually is, meaning that everything had to stay simple, as if I were working on older hardware and software. This made things very easy for someone like me, who is, by all accounts, an After Effects newbie.

I wrote out what I wanted to happen in a Notepad file. Originally, two characters were going to appear on the screen at a time with less credits interspersed between them, but then I found out that took way too little time, and there was a huge gap between the roll call and the final sequence with all the CGs and quotes flashing by. So, instead, I did one each for all the kids and then a final double cardn for the adults, and viola! It fit perfectly!

Beyond that, it was a simple copy and paste job. The part at the start, too, didn’t really take much thought or time. After Effects even has a cool built-in typewriter effect. I learned pretty quickly that you could edit smaller things in compositions and then drop that into the larger composition (I didn’t try out precomp, though). The dissolves that resemble the in-game dissolves were done with the same images I use for those transitions.

An After Effects screenshot where a bunch of overlapping text that says "No mercy for Mercy!" is clearly invididually generated text objects.
Sorry to anyone who actually knows how to use this program efficiently for showing you this.

If I had to point out a part that gave me a lot of trouble, it would definitely be when the screen fills up with “No mercy for Mercy!” at the very end for a transition to black. Like I said, I’m new to this, and I also wanted to finish it in a day, so I just did it on the fly in a comp without looking up any tutorials. There was a LOT of copying and pasting and adjusting, but eventually, I managed. This part was inspired by the first scene of SayoOshi, by the way! What filled up the screen in SayoOshi was just “…!”

The photosensitive version was then edited in Sony Vegas, where I changed the contrast some and then dropped a dim over the flashy bit for good measure. This is the version uploaded to the YouTube channel; for those of you who don’t need it, you’ll be able to see it in-game when Final Verse releases!

This opening will also be getting an update if the 2023 art update happens. I think it would be cool if you could also toggle between openings that either use the new art or the old art when you choose your preference.

That concludes this issue. Tomorrow I’ll go over modifications to the content warnings at the start.

*I didn’t know this was a misheard lyrics video when I found it. It’s only after I looked through my old favorites and saw it again a few months ago did I realize that’s what I had watched all those years ago. I’m never not going to hear 切ない穴と尻 (painful butthole and ass) when I listen to it anymore.

Comments are closed.