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The Starting Zone Interview with Terran Gregory, In-game Cinematic Project Director for World of Warcraft
02/2/2018 em 10:30
The Starting Zone podcast got to Interview Terran Gregory for their
. In this episode, they talk to Terran Gregory about his work on cinematics and how he ended up with a job at Blizzard.
Terran Gregory is a Cinematic Project Director at Blizzard who works on Animations. He directs in-game cinematics for WoW but has worked on other cinematics for some other Blizzard properties.
Click here to listen to the full interview.
We've summarized some interesting parts below but make sure to give a listen to the full interview.
When Terran Gregory was growing up his parents were amazing and "mega geeks". He grew up in a house full of classic consoles (Odyssey 2, Atari 2600).
His parents took him on a trip to the town that he was born in to meet some old friends. A friend named Craig had a floppy disk of
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans
and they played it all night. Later on, when
released, his dad actually bought it before Terran knew about it.
For his 16th birthday he received copies of
and that's when he became a "Gremlin Gamer".
In the early days, he loved the setting of medieval fantasy and seeing armies clashing. He wasn't too into the story yet, he wanted to just smash his opponents. As he got older, around the age of 16, he got into the role-playing game
Dungeons and Dragons
. In addition, Bioware and
made him think about narrative in games.
Previously, stories were all written outside the game but
started bringing the story into the game.
The Start of Filming
He was a "Film nerd" and it started in middle school where he completed one of the assignments with a friend named Ezra Ferguson. They decided to complete a video using an ancient video camera.
They never stopped dabbling in film and eventually continued onto sketch comedy and stop motion, building "terrible" stories including "one about a ninja who goes on a revenge scheme because a mafia boss broke in and ate his cat litter"
One of his inspirations was
Back to the Future
and in his university program, they studied
Back to the Future
One of the things he learned was that if you're in a fantasy setting, you don't want to be too modern with your cinematography or else it doesn't make too much sense.
Return: A Warcraft Motion Picture
Both Terran and Ezra worked at Atari Tech Support, and on September 6, 2005, Ezra came to Terran Gregory with the idea to enter the BlizzCon movie contest. At the time Terran didn't know what Machinima was and just 17 days later on September 23, 2005, they uploaded
Using their tech support experience, they managed to use a Dualshock controller to control the camera in-game which made the sweeping camera look much better.
The characters from
had been around a lot longer than the 17 days since the characters were from their DnD campaign which had been around for much much longer.
They then got an email from Blizzard, and got to go to BlizzCon
While at Blizzcon, they met the lead producer and future supervisor of
World of Warcraft
. They also received an email announcing that
was accepted into the Machinma Film Festival in New York and nominated for Best Machinima
They then released the
trailer right before E3 2006. Blizzard saw it and Terran and Ezra approached Blizzard at E3 asking about it and eventually ended up with a job at Blizzard.
Storytelling in Cinematics
Before Terran was hired, the team was trying to include more interesting stories in their trailers. One of the first attempts was the earliest Flying Mount teaser. The first patch trailer was
Shadow of the Necropolis
, which was very narrative-driven.
After Terran joined the team, he was given the
Black Temple trailer
project. He was given a script written by a coworker and the voice over lines and he could put any video over it. He also included the Black Temple raid music as it was already written for the raid, and they went together well.
Alex and Metzen worked closed before Metzen's departure, and Alex has taken up the creative mantle. He's been an unrelenting fan of the cinematics since the Black Temple trailer. He wanted cinematics like that to be visible in the game, and that's where the idea of putting Wrathgate in the middle of the game came from.
Cinematics works closely with Christie Golden, Creative Development, Level Designs, Alex, and more to drive the narrative. They also try to do most of the dev work themselves, to avoid being a resource drag on the game development team. They try to use as much existing art as possible for in-game cinematics, and the quality of the art keeps developing and becoming more detailed over time.
The department is always trying to raise the bar each patch, which is daunting. When they got the pitch to create the cinematic for Antorus and the Sargeras reveal, it was mind-blowing. This was one of the most technologically cinematics the team has created.
The team rapidly grew after Patch 5.4 - it evolved into a small film pipeline.
Terran got into social media like Twitter just in the last few years due to the
show. He was recommended to be on the show and was accidentally sorted onto Team Horde originally.
When he started doing interviews for the show, he decided to get more active in social media. He has a great time with the Twitter community, and actually doesn't get asked much about why he killed favorite characters off.
Creating the Varian death cinematic was difficult - on one hand it was an amazing compelling story that was exciting to create as a filmmaker, but on the other hand, it was difficult to process as a big Alliance player.
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