The goblin mail cannons recently "delivered"
Issue 4 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine to subscribers, or at
least to their general vicinity. Did you get your copy? If not, what
are you waiting for? If you subscribe today you can get articles like
this exclusive interview with the Blizzard Entertainment cinematics
team, along with much more. Check out the excerpt below for a taste of
what you're missing.
– Cinematic Projects Lead
– Cinematics Project Director
Fausto De Martini
– Cinematics 3D Art Director
– Cinematic 2D Art Director
– Cinematic VFX Art Director
World of Warcraft Official Magazine:
Blizzard cinematics have a
distinctive look, but all of you probably have your own personal
influences. What has influenced your work?
I can say that for a lot of us, movies are a huge influence.
Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, anything sci-fi or fantasy. We all dig that a lot.
Aliens. Blade Runner.
Definitely, more recently, Avatar -- because they use a
similar pipeline as we do. So it shows you what someone else is capable
of doing with the same tools you have in your hand. And when you see
it, you're like, "OK, what are the differences here? How many people do
they have? Do they have more budget? Different ways of approaching it?
What is it?" That always makes more of a ripple effect than the other
movies you get to watch more as a spectator enjoying the finished
Besides that, influence is really everywhere, right? I
mean, we see it on trips, we look at the classical paintings. We go out
and shoot whatever it is that we need to wrap our heads around. A lot of
us grew up with pop-culture influences, obviously, but we really want
to look at any type of inspiration out there and just take it all in.
One of the challenges with some of the effects on Cataclysm
was that we didn't have a whole lot of frame of reference for what
things should look like. What does the sky look like when it’s
completely full of fire? What does a dam breaking a giant head with all
this water coming out of it look like? Where are we supposed to go on
YouTube and find a video of that? There was a lot of research and
development to try to figure out what that should really look like. One
of the hardest shots in there is the shot where we pull out and the
three battering rams are all coming in and pounding on Deathwing. Then
the hand comes out covered in lava and slams down and all the rocks go
flying, and then we pull back and all this smoke is rising up around
Deathwing's head. I think everybody in this room and practically
everybody on our team had a hand in that shot because it was such a big
deal. It was such a big camera move and encompassed so many different
things happening. I think for that reason it stands out in my mind as
one of the most successful shots that we did, because it was truly a
From Left to Right: Fausto De Martini, Chris Thunig, Marc Messenger, Jeff Chamberlain, and Jonathan Berube
I get a lot of inspiration from the Navy, funnily
enough. I think they have some of the most sophisticated design. It's
because the Navy is a business, right? And they have a very precise
task. All of the design around any engineering they do is to fulfill a
goal. There's no sort of artistic input in any of their design -- or
very little. It's just forms full of function. To me, that's such a
strong visual language because you look at a piece and know exactly what
it does. Sometimes, as we design something, we try to just make it look
cool. And then sometimes, it's hard to make it read well in terms of
what it's going to do. I have a whole new sort of respect for the
designers and engineers from the Navy or anyone who's a transportation
designer... people who design cars or a car dashboard, the whole
functionality behind forms and the layout of how things are placed.
Goes with the principle of not designing out of thin air,
right? Having something to base your ideas on, something that people
will recognize in some way, shape, or form.
Yeah. The challenge for us is always combining that to
make something memorable. You want to make sure whatever you're doing,
especially for the main character, is something that's going to have a
memorable, powerful silhouette. It’s like, "OK, that's Kerrigan." So
combining and balancing all those elements is the challenge we always
have in front of us.
Yeah. Designing something that has a lot of character
in its appearance or the details reveals more and more information about
the personality behind it. That's always very fun. Every time you add
an item on a character or adjust a layout on a film set, it's like
asking, "Who lives here? Are they tall? Are they short? Who made
Deepholm? Was this a thousand years ago? If they crafted these crystal
combs, what tools did they use? What were their resources? How tall were
they? How big were they?" It's a study of who's responsible for this --
because that's not me. I'm not the engineer here. I don't live here.
I'’s these people, and how can you make any item recognizable in terms
of who drives it or lives in it?
There are so many great artists at Blizzard, any time you
get artwork from another team, it's just so inspirational. You get a 2D
illustration of the new Diablo or something, and you're just like, "We
can't wait to build that, to tell that story."
One of my biggest inspirations, funnily enough, is the
game. I don't play the game at all. I had never played World of Warcraft
until I had to make a character when Derrick Simmons, an ex-producer,
came and gave me the CDs for World of Warcraft. I was getting coffee in
the morning and I didn't know how to name my troll priest, so I named
him Konablend because that was the type of coffee I drank every day.
Every time I played the game, I wouldn't actually play the game. I would
just look around and say, "I get it. Now I want to see the movie
version." And there goes the cinematic.
When we go to a movie theater and we see the photorealism, it's such a
deep visual language, and there's an insane amount of detail, but the
ideas are sometimes not that cool. In the game, you see these crazy
layouts and scenery and the ideas are really, really cool. We take that
and deliver it in a language that people see every day. That, to me, is
the reason why I’m in cinematics. I don’t play the game, but I watch
people play. I don’t want to be a tauren; I just want to go have a Coors
Light while sitting on my siege tank. I want to see that and take a
group photo of my character with a siege tank. To me, that's the dream.
To see more of this interview and other articles like it, subscribe to the World of Warcraft Official Magazine here