A cinematic is something that often excites the BlizzCon audience as much as a new game announcement or demonstration. Blizzard fans shout and cheer whenever they see their favorite characters on screen, rendered in the high quality animation Blizzard is known for. People might wonder who exactly is in charge of producing these stunning clips.
Well, we had the opportunity to meet those people: Lydia Bottegoni, Senior Vice President of Story and Franchise Development, and Jeff Chamberlain, Vice President of the same team. Together, they discussed their role in expanding the Blizzard worlds and creating game cinematics.
It may be difficult to describe what the Story and Franchise Development team does, but Chamberlain explained that they simply do exactly what their team title indicates; their main role is to connect and expand the stories and worlds of the Blizzard franchises from outside of the games. Simply speaking, they build a bridge between stories and franchises through various avenues such as cinematics, music, comics, goods, and more, in order to help players immerse themselves in playing the games.
Their works stood out at BlizzCon 2018 this year as well. Many cinematics, such as the new Overwatch hero's Animated Short called Reunion,and the high-quality World of Warcraft cinematic named Lost Honor, provided fans with a deep dive in the worlds of Blizzard games. The Opening Ceremony clip featuring Blizzard IPs and fans was also made by the team, Bottegoni said. She added that their role is to compile the stories of fans and games rather than talk about only one game, and they are proud of what they are doing now.
Chamberlain brought up the history of Blizzard cinematics while mentioning the Warcraft 3 Reforged cinematic that was revealed at BlizzCon. The original of the revealed cinematic trailer, the one made when Warcraft 3 first came out, was also made by Chamberlain. He was not at all hesitatant to share his excitement about continuing the 10-year history of Warcraft 3 with its renewed appearance.
Bottegoni picked Reunion as the most satisfying project of the day. Each hero in Overwatch has their own characteristic and McCree is reminiscent of main characters from classic western movies, quite unlike the other - more modern - heroes. She explained that her satisfaction was from the fact that the short was able to show a variety of characters including Ashe and her outlaws.
On the other hand, they both then talked about the Diablo Immortal cinematic. The team thought the cinematic is different from the ones in the past, since the game is going to be released on the mobile platform. That’s why they had to take a different approach with many elements, such as the size of the file and image resolution. As a completely new experience, the team found it more difficult than expected and they worked really hard on it.
Of course, stories aren't told solely by the Story and Franchise Development team. Bottegoni talked about cooperation and connection; they first need to understand the purpose of the projects they are about to create.
Cinematics are generally split into many parts, such as introducing or revealing the new game, letting the story naturally unfold, and more. The length and schedule of the cinematic are decided depending on what type of project the team is working on. The whole team gathers in the Writer’s Room, comes up with a rough roadmap, and develops each component gradually. A variety of opinions are gathered even if some of them are hilarious or seemingly impossible in the beginning phase. When they have formed solid ideas, the production takes place. Bottegoni said that the recently-made cinematics not only feature happiness and fun, but also hatred, rage, and sadness; these cinamatics act as a guide to the worlds of Blizzard by showing characters dealing with diverse emotions in response to the events in their universe.
There have been no news about the Diablo animation that many fans were expecting. Expectations was quite high due to rumors about Diablo as a prospective animation series on Netflix. Will we really be seeing major animation productions for either Diablo or Overwatch?
Blizzard, Activision, and King are all developing content in the Activision Blizzard studio. Bottegoni said that, although it’s still not time to reveal or put into practice, this is the place where team members plan for any TV series. She added that they are planning to self-develop rather than cooperate with other platforms such as Netflix.