This is a full transcript of the World of Warcraft Cinematics: The Road to Legion Panel held at BlizzCon 2015 in the Anaheim Convention Center. Among the panelists were:
Mike Kelleher (Game Cinematics supervisor)
Marc Messenger (Legion cinematic director)
Chris Thunig (Legion VFX art director)
Dan Cox (lightning supervisor, Cinematics)
Seth Thompson (enviromental modeling supervisor, Cinematics)
Mike Sandrik (look dev/surfacing supervisor)
Ricardo Biriba (lead animator)
Vince Lee (senior previs artist)
World of Warcraft Cinematics: The Road to Legion panel transcript
Kelleher: Hello, BlizzCon 2015! I am so excited to be here. I hope you are too. Thank you so much for coming to the Cinematics Legion panel. We are going to get into the entire panel here. Hopefully, everyone here got a chance to see the cinematic during the opening ceremony. Yes? Awesome. If you haven’t I just want to call out and give the shoutouts to the theaters upstairs. If you haven’t gone up there, it is a 5.1 mix. It’s really great. So take a look if you have got a chance, alright? We are going to get into this Legion Cinematics today, but before we do, a couple of introductions onstage. My name is Mike Kelleher, I am a GC supervisor at Blizzard Cinematics; and I just wanted to introduce you to a few of our panelists here.
We are going to get into the why and how we created this particular cinematic, but before we do, we should probably talk a little bit about how this thing sorta come about, and sometimes we end up with directions from the game teams who made the games we all love to play, and sometimes not. Sometimes we get to do it on our own; but in this case the WoW Team had something very specific in mind that they wanted to accomplish with this.
Marc: Yea, they wanted a war zone. They wanted you to feel like you are dropped in, and you are right there at the edge of the Broken Isles about to storm the beach, and we were only too happy to oblige. We love bringing the spectacle. So we started to try to figure out what the action would be, but even as we were doing that, we were still kinda wrestling with what the hook would be. What the emotional hook would be. What makes you invest in this thing. We could do great action, but we also want you to be invested in the story and in the characters; and so we were looking into movies we liked, and war thropes, and we started talking about the idea of letters from the front. The letters home. It’s kinda like the “why do we fight? What is worth fighting for?” theme.
What if there were several letters in the mix of the action. What if it was like maybe starting with an Alliance footman who is in the brink of war, and he is writing back to his family, and maybe at some point in the action we transition to an orc grunt who is charged with the defense of her village, and we thought: “woah, woah, maybe we ended big. Maybe ended with Varian finishing a letter to his son Anduin;” and that got us very excited, and the more we talked about that, the more it seemed like that was the thing to focus on, because you guys know the relationship between Varian and Anduin is very important, very well-known, and their ongoing debate about the merits of war versus peace are really integral to the story.
So we pitch that to the game team, they were into it and we started doing what we do. We got our broken old cork board out of the closet and started sketching and pitching, and you know — just pitch it to the game team a bunch of different times, and when it started to feel like everybody was onboard, then we brought our storyboard artist and we started building the animatic which you guys probably noticed is kinda the bible that we go off to make these movies; and even at that point, we got some previs involved in doing some early visual conceptual work, right Vince?
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