The Cinematic Art of World of Warcraft
Blizzard has unveiled
The Cinematic Art of World of Warcraft: Volume 1
, a 250-page celebration of art, design, and a retrospective look at the cinematic history from the game's launch through the
Warlords of Draenor
expansion. Filled to the brim with art, design ideas, character quotes, storyboard concepts, and insight from members of Blizzard's art and cinematic teams, it offers a glimpse at how Warcraft has evolved from an artistic standpoint, as well as the staggering level of detail that went into creating visuals that viewers might only see for a moment but would remember for years to come.
The concept art is where this book shines, giving a detailed look at the design process which shaped the look and feel of the most revered scenes in Warcraft history, with interesting behind the scenes looks such as the cinematic artist who grew up on a sheep farm using their first hand experience to stylize a cinematic version of the polymorph spell that fit the WoW aesthetic. Work began on the first World of Warcraft launch cinematic before many details of the game were finalized, causing them to shape one another as design decisions such as adding a new playable race created cinematic requirements and cinematic expression influenced new design ideas. For many players, these cinematics were their first introduction to new ideas and game changes introduced with each launch, such as new playable races, threats, or changes within the game world. While ultimately not everything represented in cinematic can make it into the game or vice versa, these cinematics both set the stage and fuel the imagination of players alike.
Although the Blizzard cinematics team existed long before the release of World of Warcraft, it grew hand in hand with the development of WoW. At the time of the launch cinematic, the team was small enough that it wasn't uncommon for one person to be in charge of a scene from start to finish, with nearly everything done by hand, but over the years that has increased along with the demand for more and longer cinematics. Warcraft II had less than eight minutes of total cinematic runtime in the entire game, while some of the most recent cinematics today run nearly that long by themselves. In-game cinematics were another entirely new concept introduced with the Wrathgate event of
Wrath of the Lich King
; unlike normal cinematics, this was generated entirely in-game by borrowing ideas long used by the machinima community. Using dozens of employees to operate different characters in tandem, what started as a three page script evolved into a 300 storyboard concept to eventually become a four and a half minute cutscene.
There have been several other visual
, though without as much focus on the cinematography or the decision making behind the art - what led to Blizzard's trademark hyper realistic style, when it was suspended for a more whimsical approach, and artistic license led to new ideas within the story itself. Whether you're a fan of the art, insights, or simply a collector, this compendium is a gripping piece of Warcraft history which is well worth having.
Disclosure: While we're always excited to talk about art and cinematics on Wowhead, this book was sent to us by Blizzard as part of a paid editorial.
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