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The Starting Zone Interview with Terran Gregory

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The Starting Zone Podcast recently interviewed Terran Gregory (In-game Cinematic Director for World of Warcraft). Learn more about how he entered the game industry and what it's like to create cinematics for the game!

Click here to listen to the full interview

Summary

  • His parents were mega geeks that named him Terran based on science fiction novels.
  • He grew up in a house full of classic consoles (Odyssey 2, Atari 2600).
  • A guy named Craig introduced Terran to Blizzard games at the age of 13 with a floppy disc of Warcraft Orcs & Humans.
  •  His dad picked up Warcraft II before he was even aware of it.
  • For his 16th birthday, he got Diablo I and Quake I and the games changed his life. Diablo I made him a gremlin gamer.
  • Diablo I was the first game released on the DirectX platform.
  • In the early days, Terran wasn't as much into the story of the games, it was all about smashing the opponents.
  • As he grew older, he played Dungeons & Dragons and with the release of Warcraft III, Blizzard started to add narrative to the game.
  • CGi had a massive upturn in just three years; Warcraft III cinematics looked otherworldly compared to those of Starcraft I.
  • His friend Ezra Ferguson told Terran they should make videos for a middle school assignment with an ancient camera and they never stopped.
  • The first stories were awful, Terran remembers one of his early classics about a ninja who goes on a revenge scheme, because a mafia boss broke in and ate his cat litter.
  • Movies like Back to the Future and Lord or the Rings were inspirational. It was at that time, when fantasy became more mainstream, not just for geeks.
  • The camera world needs to live in the world as well. If you are in a fantasy setting and the way you shoot it feels too modern, it causes conceptual dissonance. You don't want to be too modern there.
  • Ezra approached Terran in 2005 back when they were both working for Atari Tech Support with the idea to create a WoW Machinima for a BlizzCon movie contest. 17 days later, they uploaded Return.
  • Experience in Tech Support taught them many things. They were able to use a Dual Shock controller to control the camera in the game and the sweeping cameras looked really different.
  • Characters used in Return were heavily inspired by their past roleplaying experience.
  • They got an email from Blizzard and tickets to BlizzCon.
  • While they were at BlizzCon, he met the Lead Producer at that time on World of Warcraft and his future supervisor that would hire him. While they were there, they got an email about their movie being accepted into the Machinima Movie Festival in New York. They ended up flying to New York just a few weeks later.
  • The Return 2 trailer was their vehicle to demonstrate their skills and it was released right before E3 2006.
  • Shadows of Necropolis was a testament to bringing more narrative to video gameplay trailers.
  • Terran then became the script for his next project - The Black Temple trailer. Russell Brower wrote all the music for Black Temple, so it felt natural to use those stems in the trailer.
  • Wrathgate set a new standard for in-game trailers in World of Warcraft and the team always seeks the best process to tell the story, but as you can imagine, this is a never-ending process.
  • Alex Afrasiabi is the Creative Director for World of Warcraft and he worked closely with Metzen. After Metzen's departure, he's doing his job really well. Working with him has always been a joy, because he has been a unrelenting fan of the in-game cinematics ever since that first Black Temple trailer.
  • Christie Golden has joined the team recently and he's been working with her on the latest Legion epilogue in-game cinematics.
  • Creating in-game cinematics is a collective work, Alex visits the team and they discuss whatever they're working on.
  • The fidelity of in-game cinematics has been increasing since Warlords. The cinematics team does not want to be a drag for other teams and ask them to create and / or reinvent assets and most of the time, they use assets already created by the Art team.
  • Legion in-game cinematics have set the standards for in-game cinematcis quite high and with the Antorus trailer, they didn't want to disappoint players. The Sargeras trailer was one of the most technologically advanced trailers ever created for World of Warcraft.
  • Terran started being active on Twitter recently. He hasn't been using social media before 2014.
  • As an Alliance player, it was hard for Terran to craft the cinematic of Varian's downfall.
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