Open Your Eyes: Creating the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project Video

After seeing all of the pictures Austin had created for the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project, one thing was clear: this project had become something special.

Over the years, this project had grown beyond a simple dream into a fully developed reality that we wanted to share with the world. To that, though, we needed the right medium. The pictures were great, but let’s be honest, most people would only see a few pictures at a time.

To really give people a feel for the full scope of the project, we needed to turn our pictures…into a movie.

Once we reached that conclusion, that kicked off a whole new adventure. I’d never edited a movie before—ever. Not even clips from home movies. It simply wasn’t part of my skill set. But, like most things in the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project, that just gave me another opportunity to learn a brand new set of skills.

Hopefully, you’re reading this blog post because you’ve seen the video and enjoyed it. In this post, I’m going to go over how I decided on what angle to take with the video, the videos and music that inspired me, and the storyline that guided every aspect of this final, ultimate result of the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project. Enjoy!

Finding an Angle

Figuring out how to turn what would be essentially a montage of pictures into something that didn’t feel like a montage of pictures took a lot of thought.

Most of the cosplay videos on YouTube feel a lot like a montage. For example, check out this video by Bandit Spurs:

The cosplay itself is very nice, but a slideshow-type video just didn’t seem to capture the magic we had worked so hard to create with our pictures.

Once I tossed slideshows out as an option, I started thinking about how Hollywood approaches this sort of situation. Obviously, movies and TV shows aren’t a slideshow, but in many cases, the credits (or title sequence) depict a series of still (or largely still) images.

Austin and I have always been huge Lord of the Rings fans, so it should come as no surprise that the first example of this that I thought of was the final credits for the Return of the King.

To me, the whole Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project was about remembering and celebrating the memories we’ve all made playing the Legend of Zelda, so the poignant feel of these credits—accompanied by Annie Lennox’s soulful “Into the West”—immediately seemed “right” to me.

In fact, like many things from the Lord of the Rings, the ending credits of the Return of the King seem to have influenced the end credits for many movies, from Prince Caspian to Tangled.

As I was considering different end credit sequence styles, I found myself constantly drifting back to the idea of a watercolor reveal. About a year ago, I discovered Seven Styles’s watercolor action for Photoshop and immediately fell in love.

As an art form, watercolor is an interesting combination of realism and surrealism. With a watercolor effect even the most basic photo can suddenly seem magical—which was exactly what I wanted to achieve with this video.

In addition, we learned a lot over the course of the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project, so some of our earlier pictures lacked the level of polish seen in our later images. But, a good watercolor effect would help unify the look of all of the pictures and help them seem even more like part of one overarching project.

With all of this in mind, I knew what this video needed to be. Now all I had to do was find the right music and learn how to animate…

Finding the Right Music

Before I could even start working on the movie, I knew I had to find the right music. Music has always been a huge part of the Legend of Zelda, so if the music wasn’t right (like Fi’s “songs” in Skyward Sword), it would ruin everything.

In my quest to find the “right” music, I considered a lot of different songs. At first, I thought about setting the video to the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Orchestra’s classic “Anniversary Medley”:

However, the more music that I listened to, the more I felt like this beautiful arrangement was overused (or over-copied). After all, any die hard Zelda fan has at least listened to this symphony—if not attended it live—and probably owns the track.

For this video, I wanted a piece that was relatively fresh, but still had the. high performance quality and familiar themes that would strike a chord (pun intended?) with my audience.

I’m a compulsive storyteller (we’ll get into that more soon), so a vague storyline based on Breath of the Wild was forming in my head while I researched music, so I strongly considered ClefferNotes’s orchestral cover of the Breath of the Wild trailer theme for a while.

However, this also felt a bit overused to me and didn’t feature any classic Zelda themes strongly enough for me, so I ultimately decided to go a different direction.

I also thought about a variety of other songs, ranging from Kurt Hugo Schneider’s piano medley of Zelda tunes to Hylian Ensemble’s Song of Storms cover (song of storms…raindrops revealing watercolor pictures, you see where I was going with this?). But, nothing really quite felt right.

I was about ready to compose a piece myself (I’ve been writing music for over 10 years) when suddenly it hit me: I already knew what the perfect song was.

Earlier this year, a wonderful composer named Theophany had released a series of exquisite, cinematic covers of music from Majora’s Mask. These tracks were so good, in fact, that they had completely changed how I felt about the game itself.

Initially, I had dismissed the idea of using something from his Time’s End II collection because, well, it was Majora’s Mask and Link is a kid in Majora’s Mask. Since I’m not a kid, we had shied away from creating cosplay pictures set in any kid-Link games.  Because of this, I initially thought using music from Majora’s Mask would create a bit of cognitive dissonance for my audience that would detract from the video.

However, after checking out a variety of other tunes, it occurred to me that Majora’s Mask stole a lot of music from the Ocarina of Time (among other things). That meant several tunes (like the Termina field melody) in Theophany’s remix had the potential to be good fits for my video.

So, I pulled Time’s End II back up and checked out “Healing Termina” (starts at 16:53):

Before the song was even over, I knew I had found the right piece. It had everything I was looking for—the poignant emotionality, the interweaving musical themes, the incredible production values—I had found my song.

To be honest, I was so sold on the idea of using Healing Termina that I was actually terrified to reach out to Theophany and ask for permission to use his masterpiece for fear that he would say “no.” However, I knew firsthand how many countless hours go into creating something like this, so I wasn’t about to use the song without permission.

Fortunately (and to my great relief), Theophany was incredibly nice and accommodating. As it turned out, he was a bit of a kindred spirit when it comes to wanting to contribute to the world of imagination and was happy to let me use the music.

In fact, I’d doubt he’d ever ask anyone to do this (and I almost never wholeheartedly endorse someone like this), but if you liked my video, check out Theophany’s website and pay the man for his music. Great artists like him deserve support.

Getting Started with Animation

Covering the whole animation process is probably another blog post in it’s own right, so we’ll leave that for later. However, if you’re fairly comfortable with Adobe Photoshop, I do want to make a plug here for checking out Adobe After Effects.

After Effects was the key to pulling this project off. I’d never used After Effects before, but I was very familiar with Photoshop and After Effects is basically Photoshop on steroids, so the learning curve wasn’t impossibly steep.

If you’re looking for ways to use the same sort of watercolor effect on your own video as I used in this one, you can check out this tutorial by graphicINmotion:

This tutorial was instrumental in helping me figure out After Effects and how to create the effects you see throughout the video.

Hopefully, I’ll put my own blog post together about this topic soon, but for now, this is a good place to start. Feel free to reach out with any questions, too!

Creating the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project Video

Now that we’ve covered all of the pre-production work, let’s dive into the video itself. It may not be immediately apparent in the video, but this video was designed in every way to be a tribute to the Legend of Zelda games.

Throughout this section, I’m going to discuss various sections of the video, so here’s the complete video itself as a reference:

With that in mind, let’s talk about the underlying concepts behind this video.

Memories of a Hero

As I made this video, I tried hard to stay true to the goal of the entire Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project: to create a cosplay tribute to the games that we all know and love.

But, with these pictures, we weren’t trying to show off a cool Link cosplay. Instead, we wanted to take people back to key moments and memories from the game by depicting what those moments would have looked like in real life.

This idea formed the basis of the entire storyline of the video. As I was playing around with different ideas for this video, I started thinking about Link’s 100 year sleep and I asked the question: what would Link be dreaming about all that time?

The idea of cycles and destiny is a strong theme throughout the Legend of Zelda franchise, but it’s particularly important in Breath of the Wild. In Breath of the Wild, Zelda is obsessed with the Calamity Ganon cycle and spends all of her time researching its history in an effort to thwart Ganon’s inevitable return.

As Zelda’s anointed knight, Link would have been constantly exposed to the stories of the heroes who—against all odds—forged the Master Sword, conquered time itself and fought off the twilight realm.

Would it be such a stretch for Link to dream of and find strength in the memories of those who came before?

Similarly, to me, Breath of the Wild is a game that tries to pay homage to all of the great Legend of Zelda games and characters, so it made sense to set our video—which was also a tribute to these games—in the world of Breath of the Wild.

And with that, the idea for this video took shape. This video would be set in Link’s dreams right before he woke up from his 100 year slumber. Zelda’s voice would send him on a journey where he would remember key moments from his predecessors’ stories—and we would accompany him on that journey of remembrance.

Telling a Story

While I was taking viewers on a walk down memory lane, I also wanted the video to feel a bit like playing a game from the franchise. So, I decided that Link’s dream would follow the same basic story arc as many of the games:

Introducing the Hero (0:00 to 0:06)

Let’s be honest, if the protagonist isn’t asleep at the beginning, it’s not a true Legend of Zelda game. At the beginning of this video, I wanted to recapture the introduction of Breath of the Wild when Zelda is calling Link back from his Rip Van Winkle-esque nap.

However, while I wanted to set the stage for the rest of the video by recapping Breath of the Wild’s very memorable opening scene, I also wanted to make sure that my viewers immediately knew that they weren’t just watching a Breath of the Wild clip.

So, while I did use the shining golden light from the opening sequence of Breath of the Wild, I decided to overlay that light with the Sheikah Slate symbol—almost as if this was a detail we had missed while playing the game…or perhaps the image that would have immediately come to Link’s memory upon seeing this light and hearing Zelda’s voice.

In addition, rather than using Zelda’s classic “open your eyes” call from the actual beginning of the line, I used a different line from much later in the game: “try, try to remember.”

In addition to trying to evoke the feel of the actual opening scene without actually duplicating the scene, I specifically chose this phrase because the goal of this video was to walk my viewers down memory lane.

In this respect, the urgent phrase “try, try to remember” was meant to both help viewers understand that this video was Link’s memory of events gone by and emphasize the importance of the viewers remembering the important moments from Link’s past that led to Breath of the Wild.

Welcome to the World (0:07 to 1:46)

In Zelda games, once the hero is actually, you know…conscious, things usually start pretty slow. Basically, this is the “wonder of the world” phase of each game.

Most well-designed video games give you a sort of intro period where things are relatively peaceful. You get to explore the world and familiarize yourself with the controls before things get scary.

From a storytelling perspective, this is also the “normal” that needs to be disrupted in order to carry the story forward.

Along the same lines, in this video, I wanted the beginning to be almost painfully slow and beautiful. In an additional nod to the way the games usually start, the sequence starts with Austin’s “Song of the Sun” picture and then moves on to various other peaceful depictions of Hyrule.

Epic Link Cosplay: Song of the Sun | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

In addition to showing a peaceful Hyrule, I also wanted to get my viewers to remember the beautiful side of the Legend of Zelda games. While the Legend of Zelda games are full of action and heroism, they take place in the middle of exquisitely crafted worlds that are incredibly memorable.

So, while we didn’t create cosplay photos featuring “Kid Link”, I did use this moment to briefly feature Clocktown from Majora’s Mask and sailing across the Great Sea on the King of Red Lions. I also love the Midna-Wolf Link dynamic, so I snuck a picture of the two of them climbing Snowpeak in as well (even if it technically doesn’t fit the “intro” part of this sequence).

From a storytelling perspective, this sequence does a few important things.

For Link, this was a depiction of his memories of how Hyrule used to be: beautiful and untouched by Ganon’s hand. In essence, Zelda’s voice first brings him back to the happy times they enjoyed together before the calamity.

On top of that element of Link’s dream, this sequence also establishes the musical “theme of the hero”. I think the woodwind that Theophany actually used was a flute, but it has the same basic sound as an ocarina, so to the audience, this sequence simultaneously establishes the ocarina as “Link’s sound” and the classic “Overworld Theme” as “Link’s theme” for the video.

This is important, because throughout the rest of the video, the musical interplay between Link’s theme and Ganon’s theme will be a critical part of the storytelling.

Darkness Falls (1:47 to 2:17)

Of course, if everything stays nice and happy, that wouldn’t make for a very interesting story, would it? In the games, once you’ve had some time to get comfortable with the game, get a feel for the world and do a bit of exploring, something bad suddenly happens.

In the Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf poisons and ultimately kills the Deku Tree. In Twilight Princess, Zant invades and literally casts the world into darkness. In Skyward Sword, Ghirahim yanks Zelda from her loftwing down to the hostile world below.

In a heartbeat, the world suddenly becomes terrifying.

Most of the time, it’s clear when these villains attack that they are a force that is far greater than Link can handle. And yet, you have to do something, because the people you just grew to care about are now in danger.

In terms of the video, I decided to depict this moment by suddenly interrupting the slow flow of scenes from the previous sequence. Zant bursts onto the scene, only to be pushed aside by Ghirahim, the horror of Majora’s Mask bringing down the moon and finally the Imprisoned looming up out of the darkness.

At the same time, we hear Ganon’s theme for the first time. With it’s wild, discordant vocals, Ganon’s theme is a sharp contrast to the Overworld Theme that immediately preceded it, but it’s easy to associate this sound with the horror of Ganon.

However, like most of the games, we don’t actually see Ganon at this point in the story. When darkness first falls, Ganon is usually in the background, manipulating events to his own ends.

With that in mind, I decided to use a very different effect to reveal Zant, Ghirahim, Majora’s Mask and the Imprisoned. In Breath of the Wild, Ganon is depicted in his “true”, primal form as a dark creature that almost seems to be made of ink.

To subtly connect these villains with their master, Ganon, I used an ink reveal. Unlike the watercolor effect I used previously, this reveal flows across the screen without concrete form or substance—just like Calamity Ganon.

In addition, from a storytelling perspective, Link would associate these historic villains with their ultimate master, so it makes sense that they would interrupt his dream in a nightmarish fashion that resembles Calamity Ganon—the enemy that destroyed Hyrule and nearly killed Link.

The Adventure Begins (2:18 to 3:08)

Once trouble starts brewing in Hyrule, it’s time for Link to take action. At this point, Link leaves the safety of his little home and ventures out into a dangerous new world.

Whether it’s heading off to see Zelda at Hyrule Castle or diving through the clouds, everything changes at this point. New foes are revealed, new friends are made and Link conquers some serious obstacles in his effort to bring peace to the world.

Along these lines, this section of the video also tells a similar story.

The music becomes more bold and the pacing picks up considerably. Link leaves the forest, sneaks into Hyrule Castle, faces Lizalfos and wolfos, meets Gorons and Zora, takes on the various baddies of Hyrule Field, overcomes his dark side and ultimately claims the Master Sword.

Best Link Cosplay: King Bulbin | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

From a storytelling perspective, Link’s memories are still fairly dreamlike. Despite his jarring recall of Ganon’s henchmen, he’s still largely remembering events as depicted in the records he and Zelda researched together.

The True Foe Appears (3:09 to 3:13)

And then, everything changes. Just as Link thinks he has it all figured out, the villain unveils his true plan.

Whether it’s attacking Hyrule Castle in Ocarina of Time, Zant stealing the Fused Shadow in Twilight Princess or Ghirahim forcing Impa to destroy the Gate of Time in Skyward Sword, things suddenly come unraveled for Link.

My all time favorite reversal in the Legend of Zelda games is when Ganondorf suddenly appears right after you’ve claimed the last spiritual stone. Zelda races off into the night and Ganondorf mocks your efforts to oppose him with a disdain that is truly intimidating.

Then, moments later, you realize as you pull the Master Sword from its pedestal that this has all been part of Ganondorf’s plan—you just gave the Triforce to the King of Thieves.

The repeat of Ganon’s theme is fairly short during this part of the song, so I decided to juxtapose the triumphant acquisition of the Master Sword with Ganondorf’s sudden appearance in the hopes of recreating that “oh, crap” moment from the games.

Epic Link Cosplay: Ganondorf Revealed | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

I ended up using the ink reveal instead of this watercolor rendition of the Ganondorf reveal, but it looks so cool that I thought I’d give it a chance to shine here.

Then, the scene finishes as Ganondorf seems to suck the viewer down into darkness.

In terms of storytelling, this is where Link really starts to remember what is going on. The world is not a safe place where he can conquer any obstacle. Ganon is out there, always a few moves ahead…and there’s nothing Link can do about it.

The Hero Rises (3:15 to 4:21)

At this point, the dream (and video) really change gears.

In the Legend of Zelda games, there is this sense of passing the heroic mantle from one generation to the next. The Link and Zelda of Skyward Sword start the cycle which shapes the destinies of their future incarnations.  In Twilight Princess the relationship between subsequent Links is especially clear, as the Hero of Twilight receives mentoring from the Hero of Time.

Just as the memory of his own past lives must have inspired each hero, the memory of his foe must have been equally horrifying. As I considered how Link would respond to remembering Ganon at this point in the dream I couldn’t help but imagine a terrified young man curled up alone in the dark. Calamity Ganon had nearly killed him and destroyed Hyrule…and he had been powerless to stop it.

Against that kind of power, what hope did Link have?

And then, I could almost see the heroes of ages past reaching across the millennia to Link, sharing their memories of valor and conquering against all odds in the hopes of granting Link the courage he would need to defeat Ganon.

Of course, I had to be subtle about depicting this sort of “ancestral memory” (think “Assassin’s Creed”), so I decided to use a parallax effect with an ink blot transition to give the sense of Link flying through various photo-realistic memories.

After all, these were actual memories of previous heroes, not just recorded scenes Link had seen, so they would naturally look more real.

From a practical standpoint, taking this approach also achieved a few important objectives for the video:

  1. We had a lot of pictures, so this effect let me show off a bunch of pictures fairly quickly.
  2. I wanted people to have an incentive to actually come to the site to see the original pictures. The parallax effect simultaneously revealed the pictures and distorted them some, so if you wanted to really enjoy the pictures, you’d have to come to our site.
  3. It changed the pace. Until this point, the pacing had been slow. But if I wanted to keep viewers interest, I needed to change things up.
  4. It increased the sense of action in the shots. All of the pictures I used had some sort of movement and action and I emphasized that with how I made the pictures appear. Plus, the sense of flying through the scenes also helped increase a feeling of motion and excitement.
  5. It was consistent with the games. After the reversal, things usually get more intense and the pace picks up. You’re pretty good at the game now, so you can handle bigger and badder obstacles.

At about 3:53, Link has had his “pick me up” moment and he starts to independently remember the stories of the heroes who came before, so I transitioned to more of a hybrid effect. These memories are more detailed and three-dimensional than a simple painting, almost as if they are filled out by lingering memories from heroes gone by, but still conveying a sense of strength and encouragement.

For the viewers, this sequence is meant to be the real highlight of the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project. It showcases the action scenes we worked so hard to depict in the project and hopefully helps bring back all sorts of memories of conquering obstacles and defeating powerful enemies.

The Comic Relief (4:22 to 4:32)

Now, while the Legend of Zelda games are filled with action and drama, it would have been a real mistake to make this whole video without a nod to the funny little moments Nintendo loves to throw into the series.

Any good artist knows that that things can’t always be high intensity and dramatic. Your audience needs to experience a whole range of emotions.

Fortunately, Theophany included a delightful little segue in Healing Termina that set the perfect stage for incorporating a bit of comedy into the video.

As soon as I heard the riff, I knew that it was a perfect fit for Austin’s Cucco picture.

Epic Link Cosplay: Of Cuccos and Chickens | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

After all the high intensity of the last minute or so of the video, I decided to take a step back by creating a sudden transition to…Link running away.

At first, it’s not immediately clear what’s going on. Like the preceding images, this is an action shot, but there’s no apparent bad guy. Good comedy is all about cognitive dissonance, so I used this initial fleeing image to create a sense of “wait, what’s going on?” to grab viewers’ attention.

And then…I introduced the Cuccos. At this point, the viewer still isn’t sure what’s going on, but after a couple of pictures, it’s pretty clear that it has something to do with chickens.

Once the audience was primed, I added Austin’s Cucco picture to the mix. To help with the delivery, I kept the pacing very quick so that my viewers didn’t have long enough to get lost in the setup. I gave them just enough time to realize something was different before I delivered the punch line.

As a result, the entire sequence feels something like, “Huh? Chickens…chickens! CHICKENS!”

So far, I’ve yet to show this to anyone without getting a big laugh on this part, which just goes to show how important evoking different emotions is to a good video.

Wrapping Up (4:33 to 4:59)

Inevitably, there’s a wrap-up phase near the end of every Legend of Zelda game. You beat the last dungeon or two and then you have a variety of side quests to finish off, equipment to upgrade or items to create in preparation for the final confrontation with evil.

During this stage of the game, Link is at the height of his power. You have all the items and access to every area in the game, so you revisit a lot of old sites and memorable characters.

To evoke this feeling and give a good feel for the size and scope of the Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project, this sequence depicts a few additional action shots and then moves into a recap sequence that shows many of the images that were already featured in the video—plus a few new ones to help give the project a feeling of endlessness.

Video Recap Scene | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

This single snapshot shows 9 images from the video.

As a brief aside, there is an Easter egg buried in this sequence. In the Legend of Zelda franchise, Hyrule was created by three great goddesses: Din, Nayru and Farore.

Once Hyrule was complete, these goddesses left…but their essence and power remained in the form of the Triforce:

Although the Triforce itself isn’t featured directly in this video, I do allude to the Triforce in the recap sequence using the first 3 pictures in the sequence.

In the Ocarina of Time, Link can acquire 3 different spells based on each of these goddesses: Din’s Fire, Farore’s Wind and Nayru’s Love. These spells each appear as one of the corners of a rough triangle (can’t be too obvious, right?) in the recap sequence—the corner associated with their namesake’s piece of the Triforce!

A Triforce of Spells | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

I added an actual Triforce to this snapshot to make it easier to visualize how each of these spells fit together to form a triangle.

In addition, poor Austin created the vast majority of the pictures in the video, but he never gets any actual face time (he has a brief stint as the guard Link sneaks past and Twinrova’s body is actually Austin).

That didn’t feel right to me, so I pulled a Peter Jackson and snuck Austin in as a post-helmet splitter Iron Knuckle during this sequence.

Austin as an Iron Knuckle | The Legend of Zelda Cosplay Project | Ingenius Designs

Finally, from the audience and Link’s perspective, the ultimate goal of this sequence was to capitalize on the music and give a sense of things drawing to close. Link is filled with courage remembering the victories of the past and the audience is thinking “ah, everything is finally coming to a conclusion.”

A Final Twist (5:00 to 5:28)

Of course, like most moments in this video (and the games), the previous sequence is setting the audience up for another reversal. Rather than wrapping things up with a nice recap and a bow, this is the moment when Ganon finally emerges from the shadows to confront Link directly.

To me, this is the moment when Link is finally starting to truly wake up and the echoes of the horror that he’s been through push their way into his mind. Suddenly, Link remembers despite all of the heroism of his predecessors, they ultimately had to face the same foe that he failed against.

In this moment, we see the final boss form of Skyward Sword, Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. The order of pictures was very deliberate, but we’ll get into that in a moment.

With these pictures, we also get the full version of the ink reveal that has been haunting Link throughout the video. In Breath of the Wild, Ganon’s primal magic is shown as reddish-t0-pinkish glowing sparks that appear and disappear like malevolent manifestations of Ganon’s will.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that these glowing sparks are visible through and around the images of Demise, Ganon and Ganondorf…almost as if these images were mere parts of Calamity Ganon himself.

In simpler terms, this final form of the ink reveal alludes to Calamity Ganon’s hand in events since the Demon King first warred with Link for the soul of the goddess Hylia.

As I mentioned earlier, Breath of the Wild is a game that tries to pay homage to decades worth of Zelda games while wrapping them all into a cohesive world where Link and Zelda’s battle against Ganon is a cycle as old as Hyrule itself.

This video tries to respect that world and take things a step further, culminating in Link’s discovery that Ganon has been behind everything. This primal force is so much bigger and more dangerous than he ever imagined…and it has destroyed his world.

And with that, Link finally remembers something from his own life: Calamity Ganon himself.

Musically speaking, this is one of my favorite parts of the video. Throughout the video, we hear Link’s theme and Ganon’s theme, but the two are always separate. Link is either remembering scenes from the lives of heroes of yore or he is remembering Ganon and his servants.

In this final sequence, the two finally come together. Link’s theme and Ganon’s theme have their final confrontation in the music even as Link remembers how his predecessors were forced to confront the true face of evil.

And then, the question of which theme will come out the victor remains unresolved. The nameless fear chipping away at Link’s courage has finally revealed itself—but there is no guarantee that Link’s second chance to face Ganon will end in victory.

Open Your Eyes (5:33 to 5:43)

As Link’s dream draws to a close, he hears Zelda’s voice calling again through the darkness, almost begging him to open his eyes. It’s a beautifully simple call to courage—all Link has to do is open his eyes and try.

I’ll be honest, among all of the fear of this dream-turned-nightmare, I like to imagine that Zelda’s voice would be what finally gives him the courage to wake up and start his journey.

To finally bring the story to a close, I decided to use a live shot of Link’s eyes opening. The whole point of the Legend of Zelda Cosplay project was to create a live, grounded version of what Link’s world would be like if the legend were true, so ending with a live action shot felt like a natural transition to the idea that everything in the games was real.

In addition, after the intensity of the last sequence, it seemed like the audience (and Link) would need a moment to breathe, so I created an ending scene featuring Ingenius Design’s logo being blown away in a breeze filled with Silent Princess petals.

In Breath of the Wild, the Silent Princess flower essentially symbolizes Zelda’s hope for the future, so this (along with the yellow light behind the logo, a nod to the power Zelda uses to seal Ganon) was a final reference to Zelda and Link’s continuing courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Conclusion

When you get right down to it, the Legend of Zelda games are all about hope. Link fights, not because he craves the glory of battle, but because it’s the right thing to do…even if it’s scary sometimes.

With this video, I wanted to depict Link as I see him: a hero who feels scared and overwhelmed, but who keeps trying anyways. No matter how many times evil rises, as long as heroes rise to fight it, evil will ultimately lose.

If you’ve made it all the way through this very long article, I hope you’ve gained some insight into all the thought that went into creating this video. It’s been a labor of love and hopefully it’s a fitting tribute to one of the best game franchises out there.

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