Demon Hunter Cutscenes

Terran: Where my demon hunters at? Are you enjoying playing Illiari? Having a good time? Awesome. So when we had the opportunity to revisit the hero class paradigm only the second time in World of Warcraft history, we had developed cinematic techniques over the last few years that we never got to use the first time when we rolled out Death Knights.

So we really had to ask ourselves: What is going to make the demon hunter experience live up to the idea of a hero class? Well, let’s talk a moment about what a hero class is. How is that different from normal classes? Well, normal classes begin with their humble beginnings at level 1, and killing boars in the forest of Elwynn, whereas a hero class will begin this time as one of the Illidari.


One of Illidan’s chosen few, coming right in the middle of a historical event at the Black Temple. And we asked ourselves, how cool would it be if we could actually play these scenes through the demon hunters’ own eyes (or lack thereof), and feel as if we are immersed in the experience? That maybe Illidan and was issuing commands directly to me the player. That would feel heroic, or perhaps facing off one-to-one with Maiev, one of the most triumphant characters from Warcraft III. Memorable.


This premise sounded incredibly exciting, but ultimately, it was going to have to be pulled off by the animation team. They would have to make it work. So I am going to have Yeon-Ho come up, and talk about all the challenges they faced in bringing the demon hunters Cinematics to life.

Yeong-Ho: Hi, Blizzcon 2016. My name is Yeon-Ho Lee. I am really happy to see you guys back again. So I have worked on a lot of a cinematics like StarCraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch; but I have never worked on anything like first-person-view cinematics before. This was totally something new to us.


So the biggest question was: How do we make the audience feel like they are a part of this story, and also how are we supposed to make them feel like they are watching the movie from their perspective? At the same time, we have to tell the story. So we started looking for some sort of references here and there, and take a look at what we found.


We have Overwatch. Why? Let me tell you later, but we started watching a lot of our gameplay footages here and there. Of course, we play it a lot. The main purpose was to figure out the best place to put those weapons on the screen, and how do we make the camera interact with the surrounding characters.


After we figured out all this important elements, we can make use of, and start applying them to our team on a cinematics, and take a look. Wow, this is humongous-Blizzard-epic-scale weapon covering up everything! So how am I supposed to tell the story out of this?


Okay, so we tried gain by moving those weapons to the corner of the screen, and actually this works better for the storytelling; but we are missing something here. If you want to hold a weapon like that, you don’t feel like a warrior at all.


So we tried it again. This is the final version we have. The weapons are sitting nice and easy into the cinematic. Also, I can feel like you are a warrior, and ready to some sort of action.


Now we put everything into all the stage of the layout. Everything moves linear, but that is fine. More important thing is that we are figuring out what kind of camera and lens, and angle we have to use. How far and fast that the camera should move in the screen space; also we are figuring out and planning out all the performances on the surrounding characters, this is what we have in the end, you define the camera motion by adding organic feel to it, also most priority is that we are making you feel like an Illidari in the story.


Let me talk about the performances on Vault of the Warden cinematic. Normally, all these cinematics are divided by shots; and a shot is one or two seconds long. However, this was a 30 seconds, there is no camera cut, the character Maiev (you see her over there), she has a very gigantic helmet, and covering all the face; and how am I supposed to make this interesting and compelling to watch?


So I thought about what was the most important things that should happen in this scene, and it is actually Maiev’s hatred on you. That is the key selling point. So this is my first try. This was kind of working, but the acting choice of that hand-squeezing action, we already have seen those kind of gesture so many times from the other movies already.


What we really need to feel here is that Maiev’s hatred on you (despite the fact that she needs you to save Azeroth). So I edited Maiev’s interaction with the crystal prison. Now we see the idea starts working. However, this doesn’t feel strong enough. It feels just too gentle and too nice. She almost feels scared to touch the crystal. So this is the final version we have. The cool thing about this is that you can not only see her hatred, also at the same time you can feel some sort of a connection between those two characters. All of this coming through a strong scratch action.


Terran: Awesome. Thank you, Yeon-Ho Lee. So now is the time in which we are going to take a little trip to a very-very big city…

Next: Suramar Cutscenes


In-Game CinematicsCreative DevelopmentDemon Hunter CutscenesSuramar CutsceneGenn vs Sylvanas
Broken Shore CutsceneAnimationLightningBroken Shore FinaleNexus: Varian

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BlizzCon 2019 Panel Transcripts