Westenhofer: …out of respect for all of you who have ganked me, we are delivering you some Orcs that I’m very proud of.
Hardwick: There’s one effect that I hope is in the movie that was in the old game that I doubt you put in there; but remember how when you just poked the sheep a bunch at a certain point they would just go “baa” on you and then explode?
Westenhofer: That’s awesome.
Hardwick: That would be amazing if you would do that.
Westenhofer: Ok, good I did work on babes so that would be very appropriate.
Hardwick: What are some of the, how is different from other films that you have worked on and how has your approach been different and what was super fun about it?
Westenhofer: What’s been super fun is just, from a fan; I get to stand in Stormwind, like a physical recreation of it. That was awesome.
Duncan: The thing is it was not virtual, all of the, well actually on these side here. These are costumes and props that actors are using, these are photo references so these are not necessarily the scale of our Orcs, some of them are, some of them aren’t. But we also built sets, we built locations, we built a lot of places that you know and love and we built them to a fidelity where we could move around in these environments, go up close to stuff, look at signs, look at, I mean it was all there.
Metzen: Guys, I got to stand in the middle of the main street in Stormwind, and there’s the mailbox, there’s the bulletin board, I had tears in my eyes, like the bulletin board there’s little parchment things like “Wanted: Hogger;” or “Fargodeep Mine,” and I’m going “holy shit!”
Metzen: The level of detail, the level of craftsmanship, it was overwhelming, it’s absolutely overwhelming. I…
Hardwick: Did you want to say something else?
Westenhofer: Yeah, that was the most fun part working on something, on content that I love and from a tactical stand point the challenges of just about every single thing that you can do has to be done. With motion capture on set was an incredible technical challenge you know, it’s hard enough when you have a controlled environment smoke and cameras and you’re trying to get things to work. What was really cool, and I geeked out just a little bit, we were able to get to the point where our camera operator could see through his viewfinder as he’s filming in the scene you can see a digital representation of the Orc as he’s filming it.
So our actors would be translated into real time and converted into an Orc and they could see it. So you’d get that really, you know if you are going to filming a war movie and you want get into the nitty gritty you want to follow all those little details and movements, that was something we were able to do and we are really proud of how it turned out.
I think it adds a really nice organic quality to the end result. But then you know, it’s just every getting the details of the skin right in the Orc, there’s so many things to get right while delivering an amazing story too.
Duncan: And you get to hang out in the Lion’s Pride.
Westenhofer: That’s true.
Hardwick: So I think now is a good time to start talking about which characters we are going to look at.
(Audience shouts: “Yea!”)
Hardwick: Oh alright, you know at least it is a heckler you’re like: “YES, PLEASE! Get on with it.” Yea that’s very polite. So I think we can start revealing you know, let’s start with the Alliance side, Lothar we can talk about?
Duncan: Yea, we have… Lothar is kind of our Alliance lead, and that’s Travis Fimmel who is going to be playing him. If you watched “Vikings,” you would know him from that show. He’s an amazing, incredibly, charismatic guy.
Metzen: Yea, he’s very dreamy and I’m getting lost in his eyes. Yea, yea don’t look in his eyes.
Hardwick: Chris is going to put his hands on him again.
Metzen: He is … actually there’s a story there that I won’t get into.
(Metzen whispers: It’s bad. So bad. So bad)
Duncan: He’s an incredible talented guy, a real personality. He brings something really unique to Lothar.
Hardwick: And somehow when you are casting these actors are you, Chris, sitting down with them and really giving them all of the, going deep on the mythology, giving them the backstory. Telling them everything or do they come in prepared.
Metzen: I think that really lies more on Duncan’s end. We have heard that Casting intention. Wow that’s crazy, that’s really interesting. We on our side, we weren’t really a part of that quite as much until we went up and kinda met everybody; and the production had been under way there for some time. So it was really fun… running into everybody and we were trying to some like– Wow! I like Vikings, but like back in the day. You guys have seen Vikings?
Metzen: You should. It’s bad ass. But in my head, you know– from old school, Lothar was kinda of like an older man and very… you know, I don’t know, kind of a little 2-dimensional in a very Loofah-good and incorruptible and dependable.
And I am like: “wow, it’s the Vikings dude! Wooooow!!!” You know? Duncan is just like, he killed it right now. It’s kind of a different spin on the character but it was kind of perfect you know a character that deeply loves him homeland and deeply loves his king and wants to do the right thing and still has this kind of depth to him lying in the shadow.
Duncan: I just want to mention so people can kind of know where we are coming from, what we are talking about. Chris has seen the film, Chris has seen a rough cut. But he has seen the film.
Metzen: Actually we got to go and a couple of weeks ago now Nick Carpenter and I, and a couple of the guys at Blizzard we went up and we watched it, and we grabbed a quick dinner, and watched it again. Because it’s just, it’s the weirdest thing guys.
We are involved in the story ideation, the script phases, any number of jam sessions about this whole thing; but the finally sit and see this thing come together. Fried every circuit I had I just sit and go: “oh!” “Oh, my God!” “Oh!” You know? “Ohhh! Ohhhhhhh!!!”
Metzen: It’s like I had no shields by the end of it. So we actually– The guys were cooling off and we came back and watched it again. Just now I could: “Ahhhh!” (Relaxing sound). Just watch it for what it is, and how it is, and how its moving in a new lens, and I didn’t have my own…
So it was just frying my emotions so hard. Just seeing these things that had been ideas in our head, or ideas that my friends had over the years. It was incredible.
It was just absolutely, again when I say I think we are in very good hands I know that we are. It’s not an opinion. I have seen the damn thing.
It is unlike anything else I have seen with those big fantasy films these days– past number of years… It feels so uniquely Warcraft and it is hard even to say because there are no existing films, and I don’t even know what that means; but you can kind of tell from some of the props and the artifacts you are seeing, it is so distinctively Warcraft.
Duncan: And again… Go upstairs.
Metzen: Go upstairs!
Hardwick: But, you know, the movie is not coming out for a while so how far… this rough cut that you are seeing… how far along are you in the process? What are you seeing?
Duncan: Storytelling-wise? We know what the film is. We are kinda, we’re there now. So we have so many special effects. I mean it’s outrageous. It’s Avatar and Lord of the Rings at the same time. It’s a big, big, BIG film. It’s just going to take a while.
Metzen: … and really just to reinforce, this one thing, like I kinda said a bit earlier… the thing I long for most… you figure the component (now that you guys know what the storyline is), it’s effectively the Ultimate version of Warcraft 1.
(Note: In reference to last year’s mention of Marvel Comics’ Ultimate ongoing series.)
If you are going to do a Warcraft film, start at the start, stop just screwing around and making stuff up, just start at the start… where all of our identities come from. It is not the Troll film. It is not the Blood Elf film (hopefully one day); but the one thing that unites us all– whatever races we play, whatever classes we play or whatever servers that we are on– is that ultimately all the expression of the modern age of Warcraft comes from a very specific time and a very specific chain of events; and starting with those events is kind of like a primer for all of us. You’ll see.
But what was really fun and what I really hoped for was (you know) you’re going to hire fantastic actors, you know… human folks (right?) that are going to be expressive and embody the characters. What was the big question mark? How will the Orcs be?
Metzen: Will they emote? Will they make you feel empathy? Will you be able to sympathize with these guys? They classically in this era were pretty bad news… and that was the trick if we could have achieved that we knew there was no barrier.
Duncan: Speaking of which, Durotan. That’s an Orc lead; and Durotan being played by Toby Kebbell… having just come out of doing Planet Of The Apes, an amazing-amazing actor who has the chops on the motion capture level and he’s just again… we needed someone who the audience could care about; and trust me again when you go upstairs you’ll see it for yourself.
Hardwick: What’s the percentage of visual effects versus what you are doing with makeup effects? What is Toby going through everyday when he comes into the trailer?
Westenhofer: He goes through a process getting dotted up on his face to capture every nuance of that. He puts on grey pajamas. So this guy had to act really tough and macho wearing grey pajamas on freezing cold stages in Vancouver, and pull it off and convince everyone.
Duncan: You have to be pretty tough to wear pajamas in this cold in Vancouver.
Westenhofer: You do. They were fantastic. We actually went through– well, there’s the physical makeup, but there was performance makeup that they had to do. They had to go through a training session to learn how to be Orcs.
We brought in Terri Notary who had done work on a lot of motion capture films, and they went through the session. You have to act like you are a 500 hundred pound creature with different — there are different nuances too, there are Orcs that are (like Toby) they are very noble and very conscious around; and those that are a bit more psychotic and had to get that through during the performance. So that again was something that they had to practice and pull off on a daily basis.