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.
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.
Luminator in his twenties
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:
Here are Luminator and Daphney dancing together:
Luminator in action:
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 🙂
Many areal shots were taken using Luminator’s point of view when he was riding his flying mount.
Beautiful shots were taken by chance — we were in the right place at the right time:
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: