LightCraft

Luminator’s life

Light­Craft is a short movie made for Blizzard’s World of War­craft Machin­i­ma con­test in 2010.

Machin­i­ma means mak­ing short movies by record­ing the online game life. You play online with your char­ac­ter and record the sto­ry of his actions. The sets are com­posed of dif­fer­ent places in the War­craft word. The cos­tumes and props are ‘real’ in-game cos­tumes and props that your char­ac­ter can wear and hold.

The goal was to use the game world to shoot a short sto­ry about some­thing that hap­pens in the World of War­craft uni­verse.

The film is about the life of Lumi­na­tor, a gnome mage.

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The pre-pro­duc­tion and post-pro­duc­tion work of this short was exact­ly the same as pre-pro­duc­tion and post-pro­duc­tion work for any con­ven­tion­al (non-Machin­i­ma) movie. You start with a script, then you make a sto­ry­board, then cast actors (in this case — choos­ing the game char­ac­ters you want to use), design­ing the pro­duc­tion — choos­ing loca­tions, cos­tumes and props, then after the pro­duc­tion peri­od — edit­ing the footage with an NLE soft­ware (I used Sony Vegas Pro 9).

The pro­duc­tion phase (the shoot­ing of the movie) pre­sent­ed some chal­lenges.

The cast. There are four main char­ac­ters in the movie — Lumi­na­tor, his two best friends — the Dwarf Kali­man and the Draenei Uzu­lor; and Luminator’s love, the female Blood Elf Daph­ney. I used three play­ers — me, my wife and my son to con­trol the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters in the scenes.

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The young Lumi­na­tor

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Daph­ney

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Uzu­lor and Kali­man

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Lumi­na­tor in his twen­ties

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Aged Lim­i­na­tor as a mage war­rior

You can see the dif­fer­ent cos­tumes and props used.

The per­for­mance. The War­craft char­ac­ters have built-in ani­mat­ed ‘emotes’ like danc­ing or cry­ing that can be trig­gered by typ­ing a com­mand in the in-game chat win­dow. I organ­ised the set and rehearsed the cam­era move­ment, then I gave a com­mand to the char­ac­ter and record­ed the screen dur­ing the ani­ma­tion of the com­mand­ed ‘emote’.

Here is Lumi­na­tor cry­ing on his par­ents’ grave:
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This is the grave of his par­ents.
Their ‘pho­tos’ were added to the grave­stone in post-pro­duc­tion:
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Here are Lumi­na­tor and Daph­ney danc­ing togeth­er:09

Lumi­na­tor in action:
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The cam­era place­ment was a real chal­lenge (the record­ing of the screens was done by a pro­gram called Fraps). Some­times I had to shoot from Luminator’s in-game point of view or from its ‘cam­era’ (you can change the posi­tion of the cam­era around your char­ac­ter when you play World of War­craft). Some­times I had to give Lumi­na­tor con­trol to some­one else and to shoot from the point of view of anoth­er char­ac­ter. We record­ed the screens from two or three com­put­ers simul­ta­ne­ous­ly to sim­u­late two or three cam­era set­tings for a scene.

There are many bat­tle scenes that were record­ed when the char­ac­ter par­tic­i­pat­ed in ‘real’ in-game bat­tles. These were dan­ger­ous shots but the char­ac­ters per­formed well — no one was injured. No stunts used 🙂

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Many are­al shots were tak­en using Luminator’s point of view when he was rid­ing his fly­ing mount.

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Beau­ti­ful shots were tak­en by chance — we were in the right place at the right time:

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The movie has a voiceover that tells Luminator’s sto­ry. My son does the voiceover. The movie uses the orig­i­nal World of  War­craft game sound­track for its music back­ground.

Watch the movie:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyWD-bASLTg]

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