Saatchi & Saatchi, Los
Angeles senior producer Jennifer Pearse played the role of
production law-giver, working with videogame company Blizzard and
effects shop Hydraulx to drop a Tacoma truck into the massively
popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft, a place usually
populated by dwarfs, elves and other sci-fi Tolkienesque creatures.
What were some of the key production challenges of this project?
Time was the biggest challenge, in terms of when we were able to begin the project and when it had to be delivered, which was just under eight weeks. After that it was all about staying true to the game?every detail, every character movement had to be right. Like with the Mage, the guy who summons the truck, we'd be asking ourselves, "Would he hold his staff in his right hand or his left?" and things like that. It was also about getting the comedic timing down and making sure the characters and all the other assets we got from Blizzard were used to the fullest. At some points we'd get Hydraulx to get a character to move a certain way, maybe in a way they wouldn't in the actual game, and all of a sudden his arms and legs would fly off. It was really important to get the details correct, [to make sure] that the characters were generally staying true to their in-game behavior and to seamlessly introduce the truck.
For you, how did creating a spot within a video game differ from a more traditional spot?
This was my foray into the animation world. For whatever reason I've worked primarily on comedic, performance and special effects-based stuff. In a sense you have more control with the animation because when you're shooting live action you might think you have it all and then you go into editing and wish you had a few more shots. With this, we had the ability to change things but because we chose to do it as one-take, whenever we wanted to change anything we'd have to render the entire thing over again. That process meant it would be 24 or 48 hours before we'd see it again. So that made it a bit of a nail-biter in terms of time.
I learned a lot about 3D and Maya and a lot of new lingo I hadn't used before. The Blizzard people had their own language for what they do and how they were sending stuff, and then the Hydraulx people have their own language, so translating those to our people was a good lesson. I definitely feel a lot more well-versed for working on future animation spots.
What skills served you best on this job?
Communication, for sure. It was really about getting everyone on the same page everyday. For example, Blizzard is understandably not used to working on advertising deadlines, so it was about following up with them and making sure they were on time. But overall, it was about keeping everyone on the same page and making sure things would continue to move forward.
Did you start playing World of Warcraft as a result of working on this project?
This was a really fun job and, I'm a bit embarrassed to say, I did start playing the game. In the beginning I'd just watch to get a sense of how it worked but then I had some pressure to get in there myself so I finally joined.
What's your character and playing level?
I was a priest knight elf. I only got up to level six but at that point I decided it was time to leave the game to pursue other interests, such as a life.
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