Today I listened to a song by Bishop Nehru and MFDOOM called Caskets, at the end of the song a woman talks about how to thrive in times of hardship, she goes on a very inspirational rant about how you have to go with the flow and not get down on yourself during the hard times. The song reminded me of my time at Blizzard when I worked with the Cinematics team on WOW, SC2, and Diablo3, it also provided me with a very unique kind of clarity, about why I was only with the team for 1 year rather than continuing to be with them today.
I recently published some of the works I created during my year at Blizzard Entertainment on the Cinematics team, you can find it in the “WORKS” section labeled Blizzard Cinematics.
This is my first time ever showing the models I created for the Starcraft2 and World of Warcraft Cinematics. I worked with Blizzard 7 years ago, it was my first full time job in the industry. I remember I was super nervous the whole time, for it was a dream job and the team was unbelievably skilled and talented and they knew it. I remember everyday there I was stressed and worried that I would do something wrong or my work would be considered sub-par and to be honest with you, in some cases it was. The team consisted of veteran artists, guys that had been developing for video games, film, and advertising for many years. I was the youngest guy on the team. My dreams were to create characters for Blizzard cinematics but my insertion on the team was to be a part of a newly created environment team, which although it was a super amazing position, it was also a surprise since I was under the assumption that I would be helping with characters, especially given that a character is what my art test consisted of (which in hind sight was actually a good thing, given that if I knew it was an environment position when I applied, I probably wouldn’t have had the confidence to get the job, since I had never created environments before).
Blizzard Cinematics Art Test 2007
The models I was assigned to create were a mix of objects, some were background objects, meaning they would only be seen in the distance and through depth of field, while others where hero objects, meaning you would see them in focus and in the foreground. No matter what they were I created them to the best of my ability, for I only had one level of execution and that was only “the best I could possibly do”. I remember I was assigned to create the ground plate for the Starcraft 2 Betrayal cinematic but I had never modeled anything hard-surface in my life, let alone at a cinematic quality. Stressed beyond belief I borrowed a Gnomon DVD from the libaray at work and left early. The Gnomon dvd was called “modeling for production” (or something to that extent) it was by Cajun Hylton, when I got home I spent the whole afternoon and night watching it and practicing the steps Cajun used to create his high res hard surface models. When I returned to work the next day I worked nonstop on trying to bring the intricate designs from then Art Director Fausto De Martini’s concept drawing to life in 3d. That model took me weeks but in the end I finished it and it was approved to be textured and used for the cinematic.
Ground Plate Model – Starcraft2: The Betrayal Cinematic
Although it was stressful and worrisome I tried my best not to show it, instead I just tryed put a smile on my face and suck up as much knowledge as possible. Most of the time that did the job, but at the heightened times of stress when smiles didnt fix everything, I would take a break and go explore the Blizzard campus. I wondered into areas of all sorts, some of the places I found were where the super secret projects were being worked on, like the just recently admitted Project Titan. I also wondered into the World of Warcraft, and diablo 3 production areas. I meet a lot of amazing artists on those walks and most are still very much my friends today. We would talk about art, they would show me the arts and projects they were working on and I was blown away by the excellence in the execution of everything they created. They would also be interested in what I was working on, but I never felt like my work measured up to theirs, I mean these guys on the WOW team were concepting monsters, creating them in lowpoly 3d, texturing them with amazing hand-painted textures, and throwing them into the game effortlessly… meanwhile I was sculpting bullet ridden walls for SC2 or mountain sides and Ice slabs for WOW which although I thought was cool, I also didn’t feel like it compared to what they were doing. I was humbled by the multi-dynamics of their artistry.
My time at blizzard was that of pure magic, although it was challenge at every corner, it is one of the few places I have worked thus far that I felt like I was a part of a community, one that was tight knit, full of energy, and super fun all wrapped into 1 work day after another. I learned so much! Modeling, concepting, ideation, shaders, texture theory, traditional sculpting, lighting, how to make awesome characters and environements and so much more. I was so hungry for knowledge and to take my artistry to the next level that even though it was stressful most of the time, there was still no other place I would rather have been. Even now, when I think about the experience it seems unbelievable … like as if it was just a dream… a dream come true. -Anwar