World of Warcraft Cinematics - The Road to Legion
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
  • The cinematic needed an emotional hook, so the team looked at war movies.
  • They considered starting with an Alliance footman writing letters to his family, then Orc grunt who was writing letters to her family, finishing with Varian writing to Anduin.
  • Every shot brings the ship from the cinematic closer to the Broken Isles. It was very technically challenging!
  • There were thick clouds and they wanted to use sunlight beams to light the characters.
  • The ship wasn't going to be featured in the game, so they cinematics team was able to customize it as they wished. They elongated the ship and widened the bow to make it more front heavy.
  • The gunship model was very detailed. 7 million faces, 3000 of the 4000x4000 texture maps, raytracing. It takes 4-6 hours to render each frame.
  • There were 18th century ships they used as inspiration.
  • They also looked at older planes with sheets of metal and rivets.
  • The original cabin was going to be much larger, but it felt better smaller, allowing it to just be a backdrop for the character.
  • Some of the items on the desk are reused from previous cinematics.
  • The compass is passed down from Llane Wrynn.
  • The team drew inspiration from all of the different versions of Varian art that already existed.
  • Translating the character proportions from art to the 3D model was challenging.
  • Varian texture maps were based on real people. Pictures of 40 year old white males that worked in the office were used for reference. These detailed shots are used to make Varian's skin look real.
  • Much of the variation in his skin is from the reference photos, not painted.
  • There are as many texture maps on Varian as there are on the entire gunship.
  • Varian has lots of hair!
  • Varian takes 4-6 hours per frame and 20-30 GB of memory to render.
  • The lens makes a difference to how Varian's facial features appear.
  • Later on in the process the team picks the f-stop / focal length, trying to keep the result look realistic.
  • Lens distortion and chromatic aberration help to make it look like a real lens was used. Making 3D look realistic involves adding artifacts back in to the video.
  • Lots of reference video was used to give Varian realistic facial movements. No motion capture was used!
  • There were 50+ assets on the deck in the first big shot of the deck, helping to make it look filled out and realistic.
  • The team can use a motion capture camera to walk around the 3D deck to capture the camera movement, adding the smaller shakes and sways that come with using a real camera.
  • Motion capture was used to animate some of the other characters in cinematic, such as the soldiers on the deck.
  • The effects team made some really great water by using reference footage of someone in a pool.
  • There is a small goblin tugboat in one of the shots.
  • Some of the ships were recycled from other cinematics, such as the ship being destroyed in Booty Bay or the ships in the Mists of Pandaria cinematic. More detail had to be added to the ships.
  • The reference for the Horde ship coming through the clouds was older Viking ships. It was less detailed than the Alliance ship, with most of it near Sylvanas for her closer shots.
  • Sylvanas being an Undead High Elf was something the team wanted to be reflected properly in the cinematic.
  • Sylvanas had some more armor added to her midriff.
  • It is hard to get the subtle facial detail for younger women right. The team had some photo references of women's faces, projected it on the model, and cleaned it up from there. The pore detail is from real people.
  • The team added the illusion of red bloodflow in her ears with the lighting.
  • The team worked with Anna Maltese to capture reference footage to make sure Sylvanas moved realistically.
  • The fel energy was used as a team color, appearing on all of the enemies.
  • The final fighting shot used hundreds of reference footage shots to make it great.
  • Lots of effort put in to the lighting and composition to make it amazing!

Q&A
  • The Illidan model from Burning Crusade was updated for Legion.
  • If the team does reuse assets, they usually have to update them to add more detail.
  • Orc skulls are reused in several cinematics.
  • Around 50% of environment assets are reused from previous work.
  • Cataclysm zeppelins are also in the background of the Legion cinematic.

This article was originally published in forum thread: World of Warcraft Cinematics - The Road to Legion started by chaud View original post
Comments 44 Comments
  1. Tzalix's Avatar
    Blizzard won't be happy about this Chaud!
  1. Tokas's Avatar
    we no care, Tza
  1. theostrichsays's Avatar
    They forgot the trademark symbol. So does that imply something is actually soon?
  1. teidden's Avatar
    I don't get it???
  1. MakeMeLaugh's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by teidden View Post
    I don't get it???
    Same... What is going on?
  1. ujx's Avatar
    It's the filler patch between now and 9 months from now.
  1. Stncold's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Tokas View Post
    we no care, Tza
    Speak for yourself. This is pretty interesting to me learning about all the work that goes into making these.
  1. mmocd123591856's Avatar
    Varian and Sylvanas; because who cares about what the latter did in Gilneas/Plaguelands/etc? Who cares that the Forsaken rely upon defiling/raising Human corpses to survive? Demons lol

    Varian's logic seems to entail teaming up with the genocidal Forsaken to fight the genocidal Legion; great plan!

    Moral of the story; when confronted with a giant douche and turd sandwich, choose neither.
  1. TrollShaman's Avatar
    I like looking at the cinematic processes!
  1. Cosmoz's Avatar
    Total respect for bringing the cinematic to life. That's difficult work, even for professionals.
  1. mmoc600afc619d's Avatar
    Hmm but what render software are they using ? Renderman ? Or Maya's MentalRay ? I think it is Renderman or ?
  1. Addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Smejusak View Post
    Hmm but what render software are they using ? Renderman ? Or Maya's MentalRay ? I think it is Renderman or ?
    I think they've stated that its maya in blizz blues
  1. Hoofisdead's Avatar
    hmm where did that post by Chaud go?
  1. Biomega's Avatar
    Isn't it sad that the cinematic was about 100 times better in quality than what we saw from the movie trailer?
  1. risingforce's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    Isn't it sad that the cinematic was about 100 times better in quality than what we saw from the movie trailer?
    Yes my thoughts exactly!
  1. Collected's Avatar
    This panel is awesome. I wish these guys were making the movie. Some mind blowing work going on with the cinematics.
  1. mmoc589c6e9229's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    Isn't it sad that the cinematic was about 100 times better in quality than what we saw from the movie trailer?
    Am the only only one who would be happy if the whole movie was just done as pure CGI with the same quality as the cinematic? Tho I guess the ammount of work I'd take would be just to much to handle.
  1. Drewbacca's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Biomega View Post
    Isn't it sad that the cinematic was about 100 times better in quality than what we saw from the movie trailer?
    This is your opinion and I'd disagree with it. First of all, the cinematic is in completed form. The movie will likely be worked on until close to release. Second, they're two completely different art styles. The cinematic is supposed to look animated, where the movie is supposed to look real. This second process is alot more difficult, and it's really tough to make things that don't exist in real life look like they're filmed instead of animated. One tiny slip in the rendering can make a whole scene look odd, where a little slip here and there in the cinematic doesn't make much of a difference. If we're being nitpicky, I actually thought the rendering of Sylvanas was pretty bad and lacked alot of detail, especially in the face.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Side note: hurrah for a gnome finally making a cinematic!
  1. DeadmanWalking's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Austilias View Post
    Varian and Sylvanas; because who cares about what the latter did in Gilneas/Plaguelands/etc? Who cares that the Forsaken rely upon defiling/raising Human corpses to survive? Demons lol

    Varian's logic seems to entail teaming up with the genocidal Forsaken to fight the genocidal Legion; great plan!

    Moral of the story; when confronted with a giant douche and turd sandwich, choose neither.
    You can't wipe out the forsaken if the legion wipes you out. I know you think you are smarter than the creators of the game but an army of sentient zombies you war over terrain with is < than an army seeking to wipe out all life across the universe and all of creation. Why I have to explain this I do not know.
  1. ChaosWolf's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Austilias View Post
    Varian and Sylvanas; because who cares about what the latter did in Gilneas/Plaguelands/etc? Who cares that the Forsaken rely upon defiling/raising Human corpses to survive? Demons lol

    Varian's logic seems to entail teaming up with the genocidal Forsaken to fight the genocidal Legion; great plan!

    Moral of the story; when confronted with a giant douche and turd sandwich, choose neither.
    Varian has finally seemed to realize that things are much MUCH bigger than red vs blue, and sometimes old foes must turn into allies for either to survive greater threats.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewbacca View Post

    Side note: hurrah for a gnome finally making a cinematic!
    GNOME?! WHERE?!

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