Mar 31, 2008

Titans and Demiurges 03 - Burning Crusade: The Movie

I almost scrapped today's topic at the last minute. Almost. Why? Because what I'm about to link you isn't new. It's been linked before, and in fact, has gotten a whole lot of link love* since its publication on Feb. 1st, 2008.

Upon careful consideration, though.... I don't believe that any of the blogs that I've seen, the recommendations, or even the random forum posts really have reached the beating heart of what makes this video great. It deserves a second - and even a third - look. Sit down with a cup of something nice to drink and no distractions and really just absorb all 31 minutes and 15 seconds of this artistic look at the raid content of The Burning Crusade.

Burning Crusade: The Movie
By Jack of Easy Productions (FR)

Now, if you're still wondering why I'm linking this movie, then I think you need to go watch it again. This is not just a PvE movie. It's not just another Guild X killed Vashj Youtube knockoff. Unlike so many of its "peers", this look at in-game content aspires to an intense level of artistry - aspires and succeeds! It's electrifying, dramatic, beautiful, and inspiring. If you've never seen these 25-man instances, it makes you want to go forth and conquer. If you're fighting your way through progression, it reminds you just why that 12-wipe night was worth it. If you've already fought these battles and seen these bosses, then this video shows you everything you were too busy staring at your actionbars and threat meters to notice.

How did Jack do it? The technicalities of programs and filters / effects could probably fill a month's worth of blogging**, but let's take a look at the artistic principles that he has used to turn months worth of game play into a half hour of visual appeal.
  1. Cinematography - The cameras are seldom still on an action movie set. Sweeping, panning, zooming and fading the viewer's eye forces them into the action, making them feel like a part of what's happening on-screen. Jack has used this to great affect to heighten the emotion and the sense of excitement. You don't just stare at Vashj from across the room. You rush in at her, watching her hideous fangs and taloned hands get ever closer to your skin. You watch in horror as Illidan leaps into the air and comes crashing down toward you.
  2. Color Adjustment - There is a very complex interplay between our brain, our emotions, and our eyes when it comes to colors. They have a meaning to us that seems to go far beyond what the words 'red', 'blue', and 'yellow' could possibly contain. That's why visual artists of any type work hard to understand and use the deeper meanings of color, and Jack is certainly no exception. Just look what he does at about 10:15 with the Voidreaver battle; we watch the Voidreaver go from a bright and vibrant enemy to a dull, grey, and lifeless hunk of metal in a handful of pieces on the floor. The subtle use of desaturation helps to lend a certain sense of loss to his death.
  3. Score Composition - As brilliant as the visuals are in this film, it would be a gross oversight to fail to mention the soundtrack (except, maybe, for the unfortunate Linkin' Park at 17:50). Seamlessly mixed, Jack has chosen a handful of powerful compositions and matched them to the action, letting their resounding drums and energetic strings add to the tide of the video, drawing you up to crescendos at the instant of a boss's death again and again. It's hard to define the art of music beyond to say that the notes should do the same thing to your heart that the action does. I think, in that, Jack has found unequivocal success.
  4. Dialogue - It almost feels funny to talk about dialogue in a video like this, but it most definitely is there. Moreover, it's meaningful in multiple ways - not only to the 'story' of progression that Jack is telling, the smaller understory of the determined Paladin and his nightelven guide; but also to the game, the source of his carefully-chosen words and effects. Unlike so many of his peers in the machinima realm, Jack didn't try to create his own homebrewed sounds, but instead he borrowed from Blizzard's expert studio. In so doing, he not only ensured that his dialogue was rich and recorded with impeccable quality but also that his video tapped into a larger sense of being in the game. Even if you don't recognize the voices, you recognize the sound of World of Warcraft dialogue, and it brings all kinds of in-game memories up to mix with the content you are seeing for (possibly) the first time. Did you recognize any of the soundbytes from your own game experiences***? How did that jolt of recognition make you feel?
Alright, that's enough from me. I hope you understand, now, why I felt that this video needed a re-examination despite its travels around the blogosphere and the larger interweb tubes. It's not just about the PvE. It's not just about the game. It's not just about 25 friends gathering up and shooting some vids while they go after their phat porples. It's about artistry and the manipulation of the human mind for the sake of evoking emotion. And I give Jack from the Empire full marks for knowing his tools and using them to the best of their advantage.

Thank you, Jack!

* 121485 views as of today. @_@
** Blogging by someone NOT me, as I don't know how to do these miraculous and wonderful things to in-game imagery. Imagine the havoc I could wreak if I did?! We're talking about the Screenshot fool being given an MPG Nuke to play with, here.
*** Gruul the Dragonslayer's gravely voice at 24:10, perhaps?


Kellie said...

The video was new to me, at least, as was 90% of what it showed! Very neat to watch, and far beyond the usual WoW video.
Thanks for sharing. :)

Rhoelyn said...


My pleasure. I'm glad to have shown you something new!

Mama Druid said...

Very cool, thanks for sharing. It certainly does inspire one to see and experience those places!