Psyop’s Inferno

“The Divine Comedy,” written by Dante Alighieri in the 14th century, is an allegorical vision of the christian afterlife, depicting a journey through the three realms of the dead. This is a big story.

So, as modern, classy people, we remake it into a video game.


With Psyop at the helm, EA’s “Dante’s Inferno” game trailer captured the imagination of the 13 year old boy inside of me (note to audience: I am not a boy). Knowing that fact says something about the impression this trailer has on someone that loves the original story, but hates video games.

“Inferno” is distinguishably different from most game trailers. Psyop’s spin takes us to an organic place that the 3D game trailer genre has seldom gone before. It’s got the elements of being a cheese-ball 3D showpiece: a glow-y woman, a beefed up man in armor grunting.

But “Inferno” could care less about being a glossy 3D trailer, and more about rendering Hell with all its might—slovenly liquefied flames, orifice-shaped monstrosities tearing through the blurry mess of a rotting flesh landscape. It’s poetic and sick. We’re in hell, and I love it.

Read our interview with the creators at Psyop behind “Dante’s Inferno” game trailer.

UPDATE: Psyop has graciously shared their storyboards and some concept development imagery with us.

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wow that was really informative, plus I’m a little excited that EA is doing this game, I remember reading Dante’s inferno years ago. Thanks for the post!


Big ups to Wayne Barlowe. If you liked this trailer (which was awesome btw) check out Barlowe’s book “Inferno.” It’s pretty amazing.


I just think it’s sad that everything Psyop does these days revolves around this whispy ink / smoke effect…at this point they could be doing a commercial for tylenol & you’d see a bottle of pills apear out of a cloud of flowing ink. Is it that people are requesting it? Tecnically great work as usual tho i’m starting to think Psyop may be entering their “blue” period


Hrm, I do think the execution is leaving me a little disappointed. The compositing, particle effects, smoke, etc.. It all feels a bit too “soft” and roughly fleshed out. A bit too many different visual elements that don’t seamlessly come together in the end (especially some of the inkflow).

Marc B.

I believe that Blur Studios could’ve done a better job.


but maybe the goal wasn’t to see who could do it better.

take the last shot in “Inferno”- for me, it’s creepily lit, inky atmosphere feels like a strange crossbreed of a Dali painting and vintage Tim Burton. Blur is amazing, but they would have probably kept that shot a little tighter, more 3d. that’s great, but it’s cool to see other styles for a looming, monster driven game landscape.

Marc B.

I agree. If you can pull it of well. Unfortunately this one here feels like 1996.


1996? This sure looks better than Toy Story to me…

Marc B.

Considering Toy Story was really made back then i disagree with you :) Plus you’re comparing Apples and Oranges.


i don’t think the point is that blur could have done a better job, it’s that it feels like a weak blur imitation. I think the response to this one shows that they missed the mark a bit. its all very competent, but something is definitely askew.


apply water color effect to it all and voila: street fighter trailer.


Yea they keep producing work like this they may get bounced out of the “CREAM” by some kid in his moms basement..

Whats up with that list of “Cream” top 20?? who came up with this list? Nervo? Nathan love? Studio AKA? pepermelon? Onesize? Prologue? and you guys dropped Stardust? the dust is in the top 5.



are you saying that Nervo, Nathan love, Studio AKA, Pepermelon, Onesize and Prologue don’t deserve to be on the list ? are you kidding ? stardust fanboy !


well I am a 3d animator who works at all the big shops..Psyops, BNS, Stardust, Fad. and yes i am saying that there are companies that work consistently on big campaigns and always have allot of fresh new projects.. and then there are the ones you mentioned that are hit or mis.. and haven’t really done anything to talk about..and its important to know the difference. specially if you are going to start a ranking system..

Marc B.

We can debate about Onesize vs Stardust being up there. But all the other studios definately deserve to be up there and if it means at the cost of Stardust being listed.


Prologue and Studio AKA haven’t done anything to talk about ?


yup.. StudioAKA is cool if your into Saturday morning cartoon.. and prologue hasn’t done anything since Seven…

its important to know the real players.


you’re a funny guy ! ‘Seven’ – was Kyle Cooper – Imaginary Forces…not Prologue…its important to know the real players ;).
but now i’m really curious about the ‘realy players’ ? tell me…


um.. kyle Cooper is Prologue.. and that’s my point they haven’t done anything since Kyle Cooper was at IF.. If you knew your shit you would get my point.


hm…prologue is not only Kyle Cooper… for example think about Danny Yount…and i think prologue did a lot of brilliant work !


yea you are right!! i agree! they rock..

Marc B.

foreal are you some cranky Stardust guy?

StudioAKA is amazing and probably in top 5 of the most amazing animation studios in the world.

If you want to look at the best character animation there is look at StudioAKA’s work. They’re ahead in that regard of everybody in the cream my pants list.




I will try to stay clear of this discussion. What is up with all these pointless discussions latelly? Its either, psyop only does ink or this company ripped off this artist and they didnt even invite him to be part of the production

just want to point out that although I did not care for this, i still respect the technical aspect of it. There are some awesome parts to it and psyop so deserves to be on the cream…

and @foreal, prologue just did iron man, wth are you talking about?


BITING MY TONGUE, BITING MY TONGUE,BITING MY TONGUE,…….showing restraint, showing restraint,…………urghhh


Don’t give in, dude. :-)


yea, we all just need to hug it out


how do they even do this!
we need the making-of NOW!


Motionographer for better or worse is driven by subjective preference more than by what studios working on what big campaign. Even when we all have opinions as to who is good or who isnt, or who works on the largest brands (re: stardust mentioned above), its clear motionographer prefers the smaller companies who lean on the art and illustration side of things over brands. When that rule of thumb is ignored for the likes of say psyop which is a favorite on this site primarily because they throw so much thunder creatively at their animation, it seems so because they update quite often which lends well to a lot of postings. If the cream of the crop were based off of studio revenue, it would be a much much different list. In the end though, its still a matter of the editors tastes, even though the tone and popularity of motionographer suggests their word as fact over opinion. Regardless of what cream of the wheat my suggest, the daily links keep us all inspired, go motionographer!


well said, pj


Yeah, its nice work but Psyop gets measured by a whole different stick. The better they are the harder they fall.

In this spot the whole seems to be less than the sum of its parts.


I agree,

this spot is not their best, but, their best is as good as it gets…

As far as who is on a list who isnt


what grade are we in?..

Any list is bound to have arguments on both sides

but these guys have every right to post whatever list they feel,

sure you have a right to argue, but

get over it…

Its just a list, and I find it refreshing that he mixes it up a bit

we all know stardust, so if you want to see their site,

its still possible, even if they didnt make “the list”



i love it when one of our readers sum up things so succinctly and so maturely.



agreed, Monovich.

it was a mammoth undertaking in a genre that Psyop is new to. there are parts, as there are in any epic 3d production, that won’t work. but the parts that did deserved recognition, and this risk taking is commendable.

Marc B.

Oh I almost forgot. I wanted to give a constructive comment to the producers, agency and client of this piece.

Why bother creating a game intro or trailer that reflects pretty much what we already get from todays in-game graphics which are getting more and more photo-realistic with every new generation of game consoles?

You can see this kind of stuff on game-review sites like and the realtime in-game sequences are almost on par with the rendered stuff.

Why not aim for a stylized trailer? I love the way Pixar does their credits sequences at the end of their movies for example.

Applying Psyop’s talents on this by utilizing their illustrative style would’ve made much more sense.


Apparently, Psyop did inject a lot of their own flair into the project. From our interview:

“Stylistically we wanted to create a layer over top all of the action that would mesh everything together and give this animatic a bit of a Psyop twist so that it wasn’t your run of the mill epic 3d game trailer. We decided that adding a turbulent ink effect that felt like it was pulling the color off of everything in the scenes would heighten the sense of ferocity one would imagine in hell. To us, the ink became one of the main characters, we were always thinking about how it would act to enhance the action as well as the moods of the different environments.

One of our biggest references was the artwork of Wayne Barlowe which turned out to work very seamlessly with what EA had in mind since they brought him in to help with their character designs.”

Comparing this to a Pixar title sequence is a non sequitur. But comparing it to the stylized Street Fighter trailers makes a little more sense:


This is related to my original gripe. Despite best intentions and crafting, the ink does NOT feel like an additional living element, a character within this piece. It feels more like a poorly composited afterthought. To me that interview speaks more toward “Need ferocity? Throw some turbo ink layers into it.”


y’all bitches can complain, but this piece is better than what ANY OF YOU can do.


and yet i wouldnt be proud of this mess.


LMAO!….bruised ego, party of 1. I dont think anyone here is going to Deny that Psyop produces some of the best work in the industry. This one inparticular was just…a dud.


shouldnt you be over at cgtalk or something ? i mean thats where all the backpatting and cocksucking regardless of quality takes place.

ink and smoke effects are nice, other than that this piece has nothing of quality, no art direction, no flow, no nothing. thanks for playing though.


i also liked the ink/smoke effects a lot on this piece… msalek’s work anyways.


houdini smoke is the next lens flare, methinks. It all looks like a toy with a bad, overbusy end text lockup to me.

Marc B.

I agree with you. Houdini smoke particle effects have become a standard design element at Psyop it seems. Almost all of their ads lately are full of it. It seems as if the designers have no better ideas.


yes, ink and smoke are the new lens flare, but keep in mind, their task was to create a vision of Hell. I imagine the air quality and atmosphere in Hell isn’t static, it’s smouldering, it’s flaming, it’s unorderly- it’s on fire! wouldn’t you say that smoke and ink are the right materials to describe a hellish Hell, trendy or not?


Well, it’s a start. I don’t know how to begin saying that as artists, we need to be able to convey messages as efficiently as possible, to meet the needs of our audience(s), constantly aware of all trends, techniques, emerging techniques, etc… It is a tremendous responsibility to create something intriguing and timeless that inspires viewers’ minds to fill in the blanks with their own unique visions, based on our stimuli. It is the goal to create a bond that transcends words, senses, thoughts; it must immortalize the artwork. I would think that ink would only be hell for Dostoevsky after he finished writing Brothers of Karamazov. Sure, I agree fire works, but take it further than that. Use the smoke to create tension, use restraint, make it darker, try to increase scale. It’s a great idea, and I’m sure the client loved it.


Yeah!, I love Studio aka.
Regarding characters and animation, no-one can run with them.

But I dig this one, specially the last scene, those worms full of teeth.
Well done!


Speaking of Psyop, is Buck having an identity crisis lately? They’ve shifted gears to full illustration – even their staff is packed with illustrators. Buck’s good at applying a wide range of styles but their work is becoming more and more like Psyop’s…

Then again, name a mograph shop that Psyop hasn’t influenced.

Marc B.

You could also say Psyop’s work has become like The Mill. Thinking of the Sprint, Audi and the recent Coke ad.

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