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Old 08-22-2013, 03:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThE_JacO
Where would that be from?
Last I heard, while their budgets are considerable for a cinematic department, given the scale/duration/stretches they work to they actually produce decent bang for buck frames.

Their cinematic department isn't that huge either, and you can actually count the minutes they produce, and they aren't an insignificant amount of footage.

I'm extrapolating here, but I can't see how if they were to work to a longer format they would be more expensive than Pixar based on their current economy, the numbers simply don't add up that way.


I think it might have been at Blizzcon 2011(?)... when they did the Panel Discussion for the "Black Soulstone" cinematic.

I don't recall the exact comment but I think it was something along the lines of: "It took us how many artists to make this short cinematic... People ask why don't we make full length... but if it took us this many (300 artists(?)) to make this short cinematic... Pixar employs almost 900 to make their films... it is a scale we cannot do(sic)" something something...

All I remember was that the question was taken up at some time around the "Black Soulstone"/Evil Book + Asmodon cinematic and the answer of Blizzard Cinematic Team was basically "No. We can't do that."


UPDATE:

Blizzard VP of Art and Cinematics, Nick Carpenter did state in "Blizzard Insider No. 43" for eu.battle.net that they are somewhat taking development in a possible "full-length film direction".

https://eu.battle.net/d3/en/blog/10044078/#best
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Last edited by CGIPadawan : 08-22-2013 at 03:49 AM.
 
Old 08-22-2013, 04:17 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by CGIPadawan
Note that "The Spirits Within" was written by Al Reinert, who also wrote the Ron Howard film "Apollo 13" and has won numerous awards for his film work.

So no, that wasn't the problem, or maybe he was out of his element?

I still think though that with an 85 million USD box office take in 2001, the trick was always to make sure the film would cost less than 35 million USD to make. Certainly not the 137 million USD in the year 2000 that it cost to make this Final Fantasy film.

In my view, "The Spirits Within" was sunk by an ill-conceived visual design to try and make photorealistic actors, which was always going to cost a lot in the 1999-2000 era of CG animation.



"The Spirits Within" seems mostly an Operational Failure than anything else.
Although it is true the story was just "OK" in my view.


While Reinart did write the screenplay the story was conceived and written by Sakaguchi. He also directed the movie. While his games are great, he was an unproven movie director, directing a movie in a franchise which had absolutely nothing to do with the original material. That's not to say the direction in the movie was bad, it was actually pretty decent, and the story while not phenomenal wasn't really all that bad. The movie just failed because it was bland boring and too ahead of its time.

Blizzard can fall into the same trap. Just like music video and commercial directors don't always make the transition. The pacing it takes to keep an audience interested in a movie takes an even hand. Though audience tastes have changed. If The Spirits Within came out this summer and Square would have added more explosions and low harmonic rumble everytime something moved on screen, it would probably be a hit.
 
Old 08-22-2013, 05:11 AM   #18
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This genre of CG animation we're talking about, with Blizzard and Square, this is a very frequently brought up point of interest.

But I think I would have suggested all those years ago that the strategy would have been to just pull a Paul W.S. Anderson. Make something really simple... target a running time below 100 minutes.... get a budget low enough to score a profit even with the lower range predictions...

And the reward is they'll get to do it again.

Gary Kurtz once explained that when studios were nervous about STAR WARS, the idea was to peg the entire budget based only on the headcount of positive feedback from Comic Con.

The logic was: "If these are the only people who see it. It'll still work."

I think Square needed more of that. And Blizzard definitely will need to take heed.
Because to do this type of animation.. is not unlike trying to launch a sci-fi epic in 1977.

As one guy here put it: "You're playing life on Hard Mode."
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Old 08-22-2013, 06:50 AM   #19
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The soul being dragged through the water was really excellent. The facial was also really well done, although I felt like the sound wasn't really coming out of his mouth (audio-mixing issue rather than animation). There were a few too many "animation flourishes" that kind of bothered me, adjusting of weight, re-gripping things etc. during awkward moments that would never happen and didn't need to happen. They were just kind of distracting movements in otherwise nice and simple storytelling shots that kind of draw attention away from what we should be looking at.

Other than that, I rarely comment on cinematics of any kind, but this one was really pretty awesomely done. A legit well done to everyone who worked on this.

Anyway, back to armchair-film-financial-talk as always.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tuna
Anyway, back to armchair-film-financial-talk as always.

Haha, haven't thought of it that way before, but you're right. These forums would be so much more interesting if we actually talked about the art side of things. Or even the technological side.

Politics sucks.

I also found the animation a bit rough on the edges, particularly at the point where he raised the sword to bash it into the ground. But they did it similarly to how they made it in Lich King where the sword seems to change its weight during one fellow swoop, so I guess it's on purpose.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:13 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by marcuso
Haha, haven't thought of it that way before, but you're right. These forums would be so much more interesting if we actually talked about the art side of things. Or even the technological side.

The reason why it's pulled in that direction is because it's the main reason why films get made or not made. Studios aren't going to make a film, if they don't think it'll make them money first.

I believe that people are neglecting the fact of how western society views animation. Animations are still deemed as cartoons and are for kids, not adult entertainment . The general public still has the image of animation being micky mouse, talking animals or comedies like the Simpsons. People still want to see live action actors over animated ones, as they can't see them as real characters. Also they can't think of an animation as being worth while to watch because they feel and think it's not real, and that it's childish to watch "cartoons". In my opinion this is also a reason why animations like this has stayed in games and it's a wall blocking adult feature animations to be made in the west.
 
Old 08-22-2013, 11:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcuso
Haha, haven't thought of it that way before, but you're right. These forums would be so much more interesting if we actually talked about the art side of things. Or even the technological side.


Well, think of it this way, once the topic goes to "Blizzard should make a full length film", the precedent for that is Square Pictures' Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within.

On the art side and the technology side, you'd find very little wrong with either Blizzard's work for their particular type of production, but more importantly there was also nothing wrong with Square Pictures' art and technology work on Spirits Within - in fact taking only "art" and "technology" into account, the Spirits Within is a rousing success.

Yet, beyond that innocent joy is the knowledge that Square Pictures was utterly destroyed by their misadventure into full length pictures - maybe because they weren't looking at a few important things that their choice of "art" or "technology" should have taken into consideration.

Artists lost their innocence against the dollar a long time ago, but I cannot fault many artists for not wanting to think about these things. And it's only gotten more relevant in the Post-VFX-Meltdown world.

Even then, this is still an art-driven industry and the point will always be about making pretty pictures. You can save every penny you like - and end up with absolute trash nobody wants to see! That's why this field is always so fascinating!
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:43 AM   #23
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sorry to interrupt the completely off topic 1,000,000th film financials thread with another post about the trailer.... but i'm gonna do it!

great work blizzard guys!
the face looked amazing in a few shots, (and really quite great throughout), the sorrow/dismay of his friend's soul being torn from his body was quite impressive.

the water/soul interaction was an inspired bit of art. the toon shaded intro looks great...
the pacing was a little dull for my taste, and dialog left a bit to be desired. but all in all awesome work!
 
Old 08-23-2013, 03:39 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zerflag

the water/soul interaction was an inspired bit of art. the toon shaded intro looks great...
the pacing was a little dull for my taste, and dialog left a bit to be desired. but all in all awesome work!


Agreed on this also!

I was actually thinking: "I hadn't seen that done again since Hollow Man."

Agreed it seemed a bit long in parts... I can see why they went with the Parchment Shaded intro because I guess if it was done as fully shaded images the "lore" effect would actually be lost and it would look like you're staring at empty sets.

Very clever really, but.... I'm not sure if there was a better way of doing it (with the same amount of asset use).
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Old 08-23-2013, 11:22 PM   #25
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Couple of thoughts... Bit first - I have the utmost respect for the Blizzard Cinematics team, both their current crew and the original guys who started with the Warcraft II movies. The cinematics in Starcraft 1 were a major inspiration for me to get into CG animation.

As far as I know the team's current size is about 150 people. You could try to calculate how many seconds of animation per artist they're completing in each year, but keep in mind that from time to time some of their stuff goes unpublished - Starcraft: Ghost for example had at least two completed cinematics before the game was canceled (they're uploaded on Youtube though).
They're also using a pretty high-end pipeline; Pixar Renderman licenses aren't cheap, compared to V-ray or Arnold. And last but not least, their approach and workflow is based on many many iterations to reach the incredible level of polish they're known for. Or, for example, they're not using any kind of motion capture at all, everything in their movies is fully hand animated as far as I know.

So I'd go out on a limb and say that they'd have some trouble if they were to survive on the budgets and schedules of the cinematics contract work world... But it's OK, because that's not what they're built for, and the entire CG world is all the better for it! It's incredibly fortunate that the founders of Blizzard are great fans of CG animation and they're dedicated to keep their studio going, so that they can keep pushing the envelope; and also, maybe, in the future, they can make the jump to feature animation...
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:01 AM   #26
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Tamas, that is very insightful, and answers a lot of questions about why it hasn't happened yet. There's always audience dissonance with the experience - and this occurs even among some people who have done CG animation when seeing other people's work.

There's always the illusion that: "They made it look so easy!"

Again, I think in this day and age, you cannot avoid "connecting the dots"...Too much has happened recently for people to continue thinking it doesn't matter.

The art of animation is much like the process of manufacturing: You have Men, Methods, and Machines.....those have to be used a certain way to get a certain result.

That's not to say though that the economics wins out every time. You do have the inverse: The Art and Technology contribute to a new method of doing things that skews the economics a certain way... For example, how the new mo-cap technologies that have bumped up in scale due to the relatively lower cost of IR cameras today. Some parties now claim that the issues associated with motion capture aren't what they were before, and now it can be seamless. So the Cost-Benefit economics of the method have changed.

Would a team like Blizzard's look at this now.... and think: "Ok we bring this stuff in and it would drastically reduce manhours here and there... does 100 minutes become more of a possibility? Do we need fewer iterations to make the same result we did before with human actors?"

I think it's a bit early to say Activision will soon be caught in similar discussions about feature film making, but their iteration of facial acting technology might get them there soon as well.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:00 PM   #27
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They should make a series like Meet the Team Fortress 2 characters.

Stick to five or ten minute lengths the things they could do with the IPs and mythos and a decent writer.
 
Old 08-25-2013, 12:08 PM   #28
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I hate when I have to critique some work that is million time better then mine personal work.
I am a huge Blizz (cinematic) fan, and I am watching their cinematic over and over again.

This one has the weakest impact on me.
Even the Cataclysm cinematic (which I also didn't liked very much on the first watch) has much greater impact (that awesome dragon scream at the end, for example).

The Bad:
First of all, the design of the Green Reaper was way too much spiked (but, that's just a personal taste, I guess, so this comment really doesn't matter). Now, even I adore Blizzard way of directing, I fell that this one have overused dramatic effect on something pretty simple that is shown. The dialogue was pretty weak (in my opinion), and way worse then we used to get from Blizzard.
I don't like the fact they used the same movements as in the "Wrath of the Litch King" (stabbing sword in the ground... pointing sword on the camera), and especially I don't like it, because I think animation is weaker then on the Litch King. Sword felt too light on this.
Camera shake on some of the shots could be reduced (mostly on wide shots).

The good:
Music. Though I liked better the music on Cataclysm, I like this one too.
Graphics, models, shaders, lighting... perfect.
That morphing (dying) effects was awesome too.. and particle effects.
---------

So far, the Litch King cinematic is something best Blizzard made so far
(again, imho)
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Old 08-29-2013, 04:20 PM   #29
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As much as I respect the work of Blizzard's cinematic team, whenever I see fanboy comments about how they should make a feature film, I kind of shrug and roll my eyes a little (at the comments, not at Blizzard).

All the fanboys screaming for Blizzard to make feature films are probably kids that aren't too picky about movies--they'll watch anything that's "cool." They probably don't understand that when these cinematics are watched in short spurts in isolation, they seem exciting because they are drenched in atmosphere and have nice visuals, but if you string them together and that's all you have, you will not have a watchable film with compelling storytelling, character development, dialogues, dramatic structure, thematic focus, etc. A film can have the most amazing visuals and mood but fail to be interesting beyond those qualities, but a film without amazing visuals or atmosphere can still be amazing (plenty of excellent indie films have proven this over and over). If we take any number of big-budget sci-fi/fantasy movies that were scathingly criticized by fans and critics alike for being shitty movies and just watch some of the moody/action scenes in isolation, a lot of them are technically and visually quite nice, but it's everything else about them that's failed to connect with the audience.

Also, comparing what Blizzard's cinematic teams does with any of the top VFX/animation studios working on big Hollywood films, does Blizzard really have some kind of advantage technologically or artistically? A feature film's true visionary is the writer/director, and if Blizzard were to make a feature film, it will only be as good as the writer/director's vision/ability. The cinematics team would basically just become another studio catering to the vision of the writer/director. So where is the advantage in that compared to any other Hollywood produced sci-fi/fantasy movie?

It seems the only real selling point then, would be the IP themselves, but outside of the context of the IP's being video games, do Blizzard's IP's even have enough merit as simply good storytelling? Anyone who even cares a little about storytelling knows that Blizzard's "storytelling" is basically a highly derivative, typical fantasy narrative that absolutely pales when compared to any number of truly excellent fantasy novels that's never been made into feature films. Why make another Tolkien-esque movie when there are so many unique fantasy novels that haven't been made into movies yet? A gifted writer/director would pick any of those amazing books to turn into feature films instead of some video game franchise with run-of-the-mill fantasy premise.

So it seems the only draw/advantage Blizzard has, is the fame of its IP's and the army of fanboys who are either too young to understand what quality storytelling is, or are the type who would go see Michael Bay films multiple times in the theater. In that case, yes, Blizzard just might make a killing if they did a feature film.

With all that said, I would rather support Blizzard's effort to make feature films than any of the recent "animated short being made into a feature film" projects where the creators didn't even bother with storytelling at all and just made idiotic slap-fight scenes or mindless chase scenes. At least Blizzard tried to create and develop a mythology of their own and made an effort to tell stories.
 
Old 08-29-2013, 05:01 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lunatique
As much as I respect the work of Blizzard's cinematic team, whenever I see fanboy comments about how they should make a feature film, I kind of shrug and roll my eyes a little (at the comments, not at Blizzard).


I totally agree... especially with their recent cinematic work, its far too cheesy to make a full movie like that (especially the writing/scripting).


Not saying Blizzard can't pull it off if they want to, they do have an incredible talented team. But making short cinematics for games is a totally different beast compared to making a full feature movie.
 
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