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HomeCraftsAnimationClockwork VFX Takes Hollywood Approach to Online Games

Clockwork VFX Takes Hollywood Approach to Online Games


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 launch spots created by the visual effects/CG animation studio Clockwork VFX for agency Uproar! and game developer KingsIsle Entertainment.

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

Though they differ in their approach, both spots capture a distinctly Hollywood film trailer sense of adventure and cinematic detail. “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 said. “The action and fight sequences on both commercials demanded a larger-than-life approach.”

Pirate101 – Clash of the Classes from Clockwork VFX on Vimeo.

Tomlins also said that the use of a sweeping camera move in Pirate101, was one of the most challenging aspects of the project. “Any change in one scene effected the scenes before and after it,” he said. “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.”

Wizard101 – Tournament from Clockwork VFX on Vimeo.

Online games are fun, but not necessarily known for complex animation. With that in mind, Clockwork VFX reimagined all of the Pirate101 and Wizard101 characters, props and environments to give them greater detail and 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 explained. “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 six weeks is a testament to the animation team we have here.”

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