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Quake ‘Champions’

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Method Studios Brings Cinematic Mayhem to Quake® Champions Trailer

Method Studios teamed with gnet, id Software, and Bethesda to reintroduce the popular Quake video game franchise to a new generation of gamers with the launch trailer for Quake Champions, a fast-paced, arena-style multiplayer FPS from id Software. Debuted at E3 2016, the fully CG :90 trailer was co-directed by Method’s Dan Glass and shows off the game’s frenetic action, unique characters, and their powerful weapons and abilities in incredible cinematic detail.

As a regular creative partner on VFX-heavy studio theatrical projects, Method’s robust facial pipeline was firmly in place. VFX Supervisor Vernon Wilbert worked closely with CG Supervisor Shaun Comly and Compositing Supervisor Sandro Blattner to streamline and enhance the existing pipeline to accommodate the compressed timelines of game and commercial projects, while still delivering work at feature-level quality.

“Dan wanted to film the trailer as though it was actually unfolding in the world, and register all the physical details,” explained Wilbert. “We received character and weapon assets from id software and then our team worked in conjunction with the developer to showcase the in-game assets in a cinematic presentation.”

After establishing the main story points with Bethesda and gnet, Method began storyboarding and previz – a balancing act between introducing the four characters, determining how to best demonstrate each character’s unique abilities, and conveying the familiar look and fluid feel of the original gameplay. In production, Method utilized a combination of motion capture and animation. Certain shots required sophisticated emotive facial expressions, so Animation Supervisor Daryl Sawchuk worked closely with the facial motion capture team to capture performances and guide animators on enhancing the looks as needed.

For VFX, Method’s Houdini FX team led by FX Supervisor Dan Bodenstein created 12 different effects from scratch, including character effects, weapon effects, and supporting effects such as explosions and gun hits. Adding a layer of difficulty, each effect had to effectively transition from slow motion to fast motion, holding up at both speeds. To facilitate the quick turnaround, compositing and lighting teams were embedded with FX early on, adding flexibility and developing key elements like gun blasts in NUKE. 

A particularly challenging element of the trailer was creating the distinct blue-haired female character named Nyx. Method artists worked in conjunction with id Software, ensuring that the action and behavior in the trailer was true to the game. Comly saved time by using splines from id’s existing hair assets to generate hair in Maya; from there Rigging Supervisor Simon Yuen added simple bone structures and movements based on the character’s head rotation that would allow the hair’s movements to feel natural.

Ultimately a core team of 20 artists, which scaled up to a maximum of 50 as needed, worked on the project for four months.


Keywords

  • Motion Graphics
  • Characters
  • FX
  • Compositing
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