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Saturday, December 2, 2023

I am absolutely hypnotised by the balls of Blizzard’s VFX artists

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I absolutely love seeing gaming VFX artists show off their skills. They’re the folk from the art team who get to add all the sexy pizazz to a game’s key animations and effects, whether that be casting a spell, popping an ult, or the myriad ways that objects can be exploded in a fizzing cascade of particle effects. So I’m a sucker for the showreel embedded below, which collects the response of Blizzard’s many artists to an internal challenge set as part of the company’s annual VFX summit.

Last year when planning our annual @Blizzard_Ent VFX Summit we decided to try something new.We invited all of our artists to “Take the ball and run with it” in our very first internal VFX Challenge.I’m honored to present the final results, Enjoy! #vfx #gamedev pic.twitter.com/g6d4JPtEv7May 3, 2023

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According to the tweet from Thomas Horwath, lead/principal artist on Warcraft Arclight Rumble, the theme of the challenge was: “Take the ball and run with it”. As you can see from the video, which runs to just over a couple of minutes, each entrant had to take a white ball on a grey background, apply visual effects, and then return it to its original state so it could be segued smoothly with the next person’s work. Sure enough, there’s a bunch of stuff you’d expect from videogame creatives—the ball morphs into cartoon cats, gets hit with various weather and effects, and catches fire a few times. But there are some more outlandish moments, too.

Tobias Ahlgren’s monochromatic work from 1:13 feels like concept art from some lost indie rhythm game, Chris Yang is basically showing off (or asking for a raise) from 1:20 with his cool biological effects that shift into a hyper-detailed nature scene, and Jaime Pilgrim closes out with a blitz of lightning strikes and golden particles. Horwath followed up to say that full versions of each of the clips can be found in a longer cut over on Linkedin

Like I said, I love this stuff. My colleague John Bolding found this cool montage in which a bunch of 3D artists interpreted the same animation in different ways a couple of years ago. It also reminds me of writing about the work Hadidjah Chamberlin was doing to improve some of Hearthstone’s animation’s back in 2015. Check out how they turned the entrance of Deathwing into a fiery dragonpocalypse that still thrills me every time I see it.

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