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Warcraft: A New Era of VFX

Warcraft: A New Era of VFX

Creating groundbreaking effects on the character creation and visual work done with Illuminated Light and Magic.

Warcraft: The Beginning. The VFX that went into the making of this film cannot go unnoticed. Let's specifically focus on the groundbreaking effects on the character creation and visual work done to create the orc race.

The two-time Oscar winning VFX Supervisor, Bill Westenhofer, came to the Warcraft team early on in production stages and knew that body motion capture was going to be a key element for the orcs to seem as if they were a real live race of beings.

The studio at the top of the list for Westenhofer was ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) to create a whole race of orcs that had to hold their ground throughout the entire film with live actors. They were able to do some groundbreaking work with capturing their faces and bringing the extra detail to each of the orcs’ expressions making it feel like they were creatures in real time.

ILM even went as far as developing an entire program dedicated solely to creating hair for each creature, from the smallest body hair, to the fur of the wolves. For now I strongly suggest looking it up and doing some quality research on the program they named Haircraft. That is a completely different in-depth look at just how much time and effort was put in to making the VFX of this film stand out from anything already out there. (Seriously, look it up!)
One of the most amazing things about the creative process of this film was the lack of CG interpretation needed in post-production to get the performance they desired. With the facial capture ILM accomplished in this film, they were able to create a closer one-to-one ratio of performance to rendering. This resulted in most of the facial characteristics from the human actors making it in the final CG versions of the orcs. 

One of the first shots in the movie was a close up of Durotan’s face showing his concern for his pregnant wife. The picture below shows a glimpse of how they were able to capture so much detail from the human actors faces.
The crew was able to create a real-time environment for the actors to work in. This means they could directly preview their performance on set and get a sense of the orcs presence as if they were really there.

The VFX crew used two cameras on the faces of each actor and over 200 motion dots to track every expression. The motion of the orcs' jaws, teeth, and eyes were captured and tracked separately so they could have extra flexibility in post and assist in the photorealism being sought after.
The orcs were so detailed that it was estimated to take 30,000 years to render some of the battle scenes that consisted of thousands of orcs if it were rendered on one computer.
Thanks for joining me for this quick recap of the VFX used in Warcraft: The Beginning. I hope this gave you some insight into the crazy in-depth production process that the crew went through. I think it's safe to say that ILM is at the top of their game. (I mean, they created Haircraft specifically for the film..so..yeah.)

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