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Clockwork VFX Takes Hollywood Approach to Online Games

KingsIsle Entertainment taps Clockwork VFX to create the launch ads for online games Pirate101 and Wizard101.

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Take the imaginative characters found in the popular online games Pirate101 and Wizard101 and add a healthy dose of Hollywood trailer spectacle and you have the stunning launch spots created by the visual effects/CG animation studio Clockwork VFX for popular game developer KingsIsle Entertainment, Plano, TX, and agency Uproar!

“The KingsIsle team and the creative team at Uproar! were very hands on and had a clear vision of what they wanted,” Jason Tomlins, Clockwork VFX’s Co-Founder and Managing Director, says. “But they also gave us the creative freedom to interpret and expand upon their concepts.”

Differing slightly in their approach, but similar in their level of animated sophistication, both spots capture a distinctly Hollywood film trailer sense of adventure and cinematic detail.

Wizard101 opens with a live action shot of a team of players readying themselves for battle. As they open the door that leads to the tournament, the live action characters morph in their animated avatars and begin to battle another team using an array of wizardry, including vividly animated flying ice shards, fire and magic wands that shoot powerful streams of electricity.

Pirate101 opens with a shot of a pirate ship sailing above the clouds while the voiceover intones, “Choose your pirate wisely.” From there a swooping single camera brings viewers aboard a ship in mid-battle. Effectively using super slow motion, we are introduced to the many characters a Pirate101 player can inhabit – Buccaneer, Witch Doctor, Musketeer, Privateer, Swashbuckler.

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“These are at heart, adventure stories and each takes the viewer on a magical journey where their larger than life avatars are engaged in amazing feats of daring,” Tomlins explains. “The action and fight sequences on both commercials demanded a larger-than-life approach.”

That approach can be tricky, especially in the case of Pirate101, which employed a sweeping camera move that Tomlins says was one of the most challenging aspects of the project.

“Any change in one scene affected the scenes before and after it,” Tomlins says. “Taking a step backward with this kind of technique is more serious than it would be with regular edit cuts. The slow motion sections were all done in the 3D scene. Our team would literally animate the frame rate of the camera as it moved from sequence to sequence and then animate the actions of the characters according to the frame rate. All by hand. It was a busy few weeks, but totally worth it for the lovely result.”

While online games are fun, they’re not necessarily known for their complex animation, with that in mind the Clockwork VFX reimagined all of the Pirate101 and Wizard101 characters, props and environments to give them greater detail and an epic cinematic composition.

“The Pirate and Wizard worlds are well defined, but for the purposes of these ads we needed to push the character details, colors, textures and lighting to maximize the impact on TV viewers,” Tomlins explains. “What was great for us was being able to create two very different looking animated pieces – Pirate101 is a bright and shiny rollercoaster of action, whereas Wizard101 draws on more subdued mystical themes and dramatic action. To pull all of this off in just 6 weeks is a testament to the animation team we have here.”

Source: Clockwork VFX

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