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BlizzCon 2013: Warcraft movie panel liveblog

Allison Robert

Welcome back, folks! We'll be liveblogging the Warcraft movie panel, which is set for 4:00 pm EST/1:00 pm PST. We're pretty curious to hear about what's been done so far, because there hasn't been a lot of solid information floating around, so this promises to be an interesting panel. Join us past the cut.

5:00PM And that's it!

5:00PM A: Gonna be probably PG-13. When you look at films that have come out PG-13 recently you'll see there's a constantly shifting, sliding line of what's allowed. Remember Joker scene with the pencil? That's PG-13, so ... you can get away with some shit in PG-13!

4:59PM Q: What rating are you trying for here, PG for a broader audience or R for more stuff to do?

4:59PM A: Zug zug indeed.

4:58PM A: Job is taken but he's worked on some of the things you've mentioned, we're in good hands. There'll be more to that language than maybe already exists from the game side of things, would be good to see that cross-filter back in.

4:58PM Q: Linguistics major here, you guys brought up Avatar, LOTR, GoT, fleshed-out languages that add more to the world, do you want to flesh out Orcish and if so when do I start?

4:57PM A: I have one eye much better than the other so 3D films don't necessarily work better for me, I prefer 2D (audience cheers) but 3D is obviously a massively important draw for some people who get a lot out of it. Not sure if you saw "Gravity" in 3D but the response to that argues that 3D CAN work. Want to release in both, I'm a 2D fan but I know others prefer 3D.

4:57PM Q: Stereoconversion versus native?

4:56PM A: Can't speak for Peter Jackson but those movies were groundbreaking and just enveloped people in a whole culture and world, inspired me to want to do something like this. I think there's been an absolute explosion in what kind of scifi/fantasy films are being made right now. I want the opportunity to explore fantasy in the same way that scifi has been explored, I want to match or beat LotR.

4:55PM Q: Earlier I heard Warcraft referred to as a franchise and it is but at this point it's really hallowed ground and ours as much as yours. Are you taking this movie as seriously as they took LotR?

4:54PM A: You should be working in our marketing department.

4:54PM Q: When can we preorder tickets on and what epic pet we'll get?

4:54PM A: A lot on Blizzard's plate in terms of delivering games.

Q: The story's there.

A: In 2006 when we decided to do a movie that was before Game of Thrones existed and the fantasy audience, not sure it was there.

A: We've been doing this for so long that GoT came along and the TV industry changed.

A: Would be interested.

A: Gotta get this right and you can go anywhere with it.

4:52PM Q: Why a movie rather than a TV series?

4:52PM A: Next year?

A: Probably sometime next year. No schedule as such b/c no footage has been shot.

A: Next year's BlizzCon panel will have a lot of interesting stuff I think.

4:51PM Q: When can we see a preview?

4:51PM A: (female audience members really like this) If you look at the lore during that era, it's pretty much a bunch of young white guys, and when you're young and you're making up characters you do what you know, and we've been pushing a more diverse cast quite a bit. I think you guys will be pleased.

A: Without revealing too much I think any of you who know your lore there are definitely some opportunities for female lead roles in what we're doing.

4:50PM Q: You've made references to a lot of superhero movies and there tend to be not such great female characters there but Warcraft tends to avoid that. Are you planning to cast some of the heroic female characters like Garona and Jaina and Sylvanas and Tyrande?

4:49PM A: (look at each other) I would say that, uh, the majority of the tale does take place in familiar locales (audience laughs) in ... Eastern Kingdoms.

Duncan: I just heard someone unholster a gun back there.

4:48PM Q: Eastern Kingdoms based or Draenor more?

4:48PM A: It seems to me that we could do a number of trilogies if we put our mind to it.

A: I was gonna say, go see it a couple times!

4:48PM A: For us right now it's absolutely about getting this first film right. Let's be honest, if we're going to do this right and it works out, we'd all be excited and enthusiastic about doing more.

4:47PM Q: Trilogy?

4:47PM A: I'm trying to think if I can give you some lines right now but I can't think of any.

4:47PM Q: Are you still casting for these movies? I'm an actor and I would love to be in this.

4:46PM A: (they laugh) I think the question is, can I NOT cast Chuck Norris?

4:46PM Q: Can you cast Chuck Norris?

4:46PM A: Yup.

A: Sure do! Lots of them.

Audience laughs and laughs.

4:46PM Q: Cast? You're due to start filming in January. Do you have any cast worked out?

4:45PM A: Certainly not plans at this stage but we're documenting the process as we go along. Also art behind the scenes, tons of it being generated, I would love to see something like that come out. My wife is doing a behind-the-scenes feature on what's being done and I would love for that to be released.

4:44PM Q: Blizz has been really amazing in releasing art books, any plans for art book for this movie?

4:44PM Bill: No scabbards anywhere in WoW so we gotta work that out.

4:44PM A: A huge part of the development that we're doing with Nick and Blizzard, find that fine line where it's believable and it works in a real world situation but stays true to to the game world.

Nick: Yeah, biggest swords you'll ever see on a human.

4:43PM Q: I think of that traditional cinematic when that infernal comes down and breaks them apart. Armor from that scene translated into the film?

4:43PM A: I can't tell you too much, but the music has to have a presence, it envelops you and brings you into the game world, and the film's music has to be true to that environment as well.

4:42PM Q: Wonderful talent in-house in Blizzard, but who are you thinking of, Zimmer?

4:42PM A: Very good question.

4:42PM Q: Music?

4:42PM A: Gladiator. Gritty, muddy, down in the dirt, covered in grime. (AUdience happy to hear this)

4:42PM Q: Is this going to be more like Golden Compass, or like the Patriot, Braveheart?

4:42PM Chris: Well played

4:41PM A: (laughing) I cannot tell you any more than we've said, but I also can't tell you where we're shooting the movie (wearing the Vancouver shirt)

4:41PM Q: Duncan, first of all, Canucks are going down! (Duncan is wearing a Canucks shirt) Can you blink once, two for no, if movie will tie in with ending of Warlords of Draenor?

4:41PM Pardo: Opening up for questions, probably can't say too much but happy to answer what we can.

4:40PM Duncan: Hell of a thing to be able to tell the story this way, it's unusual to tell it from both perspectives in the same film. Feel like we're breaking a few barriers for a big film like this, very few films have this kind of structure.

Pardo: Especially when you're telling things from the perspective of what the average audience member will think of as the monster side, the less sympathetic side.

4:39PM Pardo: Games told parallel stories.

Chris: Oh yeah, they were always very binary, you'd do the human campaign, you'd do the orc campaign. Well, who won Warcraft 1? Welllll, the orcs kinda got the better of them that time. Kinda looking at the structure of this film, someone's gotta win, someone's gotta lose, but in a weird way, it's kinda like, well, maybe everyone loses a little bit.

4:38PM Chris: Especially for the character of Durotan, embodying the nobility and power and huge-heartedness of the orcs who are not corrupt ... boy, I'm struggling not to say anything.

4:38PM Chris: Both of these men are going to find themselves at this crux point of history.

Duncan: Both of them are protectors of their peoples, and in an impending war situation where you can't get out of it, they want to do the best thing respectively for their people.

Pardo: Games weren't necessarily the way to tell these stories the best, so this represents another opportunity.

Chris: Yes, a bit like Spider-man, moving to a medium that will allow you to do it, tighten some bolts, and tell the story in a tighter fashion that we can in a game.

4:36PM Pardo: Hopefully everyone can get on the internet and plead for Duncan not to get fired. Chris, on lore?

Chris: Well, now I'm worried about getting fired. I would say without saying too much -- for lore guys out there you're going, "Huh? Did Lothar ever meet Durotan?" But they feel tailor-made for each other, they represent the highest ideals for their respective races. Lothar, his soldiering, his responsibility to his people. For Durotan, you didn't see him til later, but he really represents the highest ideals of the orcs ... when they are not crazy. Family, clan are the highest ideals. This is a guy that believes in his people, that believes in its future, and is ultimately horrified by the idea of their getting into dark, cursed places.

4:34PM Duncan: It's been hard to find an actor who looks like Durotan. Gotta grab peoples' faces and squeeze them to see if I can make it work.

4:34PM Duncan: I would imagine most of you know your lore and know where this is going.

4:34PM Duncan: Couple of character names? It is Orcs vs. Humans obviously. For us, for me, the story to tell was between Lothar and Durotan.

Audience cheers.

4:33PM Duncan: I could get fired, I just want to make sure I'm not going to get fired.

Audience laughs

4:33PM Duncan: There's some producers in the front, I'll ask them if I can give you something.

4:32PM Duncan: It's two years away!

Pardo: But you're on Twitter all the time and you did something special at Comic Con and I think BlizzCon is more important than Comic Con!

Audience cheers.

Pardo: Comic Con is just a bunch of powers compared to BlizzCon.

4:32PM Pardo: Going to turn to the audience for questions, but I've been arguing with these guys backstage? I assume you want more details?

Audience cheers.

4:31PM Pardo: What is it like making this jump to a film of this scale?

Duncan: An interesting puzzle but it doesn't change, the size of the film doesn't alter the challenge. What makes it easier or harder is the people you're working with. We've been fortunate, and I think smart with the people we've gotten. Working in parallel keeps us honest as to what we're trying to make. We can't detour too far because then we're not addressing the role of the film. We want to make the film that Blizzard wants.

4:30PM Bill: Very challenging on the technical side. Often what you'll see is a piece of set with bluescreen, guys swinging swords at each other, gotta make the finished product out of that.

4:30PM Duncan: We're at the exciting time where we can really see the shooting date coming up on us now. Trying to integrate all these amazing people all working together. Simon Duggin is cinematographer, worked on I, Robot and the Great Gatsby, fims with a lot of technical layers, and it was important to find people who understood those layers. Epic, epic quest to get this film right.

4:29PM Pardo: What's going to be the most challenging part?

4:28PM Bill: Live-action concerns that we have to work out like unsheathing weapons and shoulderpad size for example.

4:28PM Bill: Need to capture the essence of Warcraft.

Nick: These guys are exactly the same, they plugged right in.

4:27PM Duncan: Felt like kismet when we first started talking and I pitched things, no one would have to fight their way through this.

Chris: It was a happy day.

4:27PM Pardo: How do you partner with a franchise holder, namely us, can we talk about process with collaboration and Blizzard's involvement?

4:26PM Nick: Always chasing these little things and Easter Eggs.

Bill: Pay close attention to everything.

Duncan: We want to strike the balance between something for people who don't know the world, and people who do know it and will get more out of it.

4:26PM Bill: I'll fly over to Dalaran on my character and get some screenshots. Good to be a mage, can just port around as much as you want.

4:25PM Nick: We look at ingame screenshots and talk about how we can translate that to a physical prop.

4:25PM Bill: Concept art -- you'll recognize it was a Warcraft environment but it'll look completely real. The fine detail will be completely photorealistic. We're trying to push a realistic, amazing vision of the games and what you're familiar with.

4:24PM Duncan: Legendary's team is also involved here.

4:24PM Nick: I can't tell you enough, it's absolutely in the right hands, they're going to make an amazing film.

Bill: The orcs aren't going to be monsters, they're going to act, they're going to have personality, we'll build full-size lighting maquettes to get all the details and costumes just right.

Duncan: Constantly moving technology on that, seen in Planet of the Apes and the Hulk in Avengers. We are working with the same team that did the Hulk.

4:23PM Nick: Definitely always a problem for cinematics team, discipline is very similar in film but you're going much, much further.

4:23PM Pardo: Challenges related to orcs and orc "acting" to make them photorealistic but still Warcraft?

4:22PM Duncan: Paul Hirsch is the editor I worked with on Source Code, did Empire Strikes Back, Ferris Bueller, crazy eclectic body of work, working with him again here.

4:21PM Duncan: Have to have even the virtual characters "costume" and have started making full-scale orc costumes just to know what we're seeing, trying to inject as many fine details in the world as possible.

4:21PM Pardo: Can we talk about other people working on the film?

Duncan: Absolutely, Max Rubio working on wardrobe and costume design, huge puzzle for us to solve. Obviously, half of our cast is real and half of our cast is virtual with motion-capture technology, so how do you approach costuming them?

4:20PM Chris: Remember the player models? "Don't break it!" Sure you can add tons of polygons but you want that familiarity, maximum familiarity, even if it's a little grander for storytelling purposes.

4:19PM Chris: The character that's most famous (yells of Thrall! Hogger! from the crowd) is actually the world itself. You've spent so many hours in Westfall and the Barrens, will know these places even down to the tree placement.

4:19PM Chris: Lots of places that are the "grass roots" of Warcraft like Goldshire and will be so familiar to longtime players. One of the things is, when we talk about Warcraft and this big Franchise ... wow, someone's rocking in the other hall (distant cheers can be heard, wonder what's happening) ...

4:18PM Bill: Even the Lion's Pride Inn!

4:17PM Chris: Trying to make these areas feel more "cinematic" than we can in the game.

GORGEOUS picture of Stormwind concept art.

Bill: Had a little geek-out moment realizing that we would build sets and I could stand in Stormwind or Ironforge.

4:17PM Chris: One of the interesting things to watch over the last 6 months has been Bill's team's work and what Nick has started to do. (Picture of Ironforge concept art on the screen) So many design constraints and strengths that demand things of your vision, e.g., oh, in this shot we gotta take out a window or put one in.

4:16PM Nick: It looks like a Warcraft feature film and it's mind-blowing, will be recognizable to WoW players.

4:15PM Duncan: We're also working with Blizzard's artists. Bill: Wei Wang has also helped out a lot with creature design.

4:14PM Production designer in Gavin Bouquet who worked on Star Wars

4:14PM Purple-washed Dalaran landscape, very intricate and beautiful.

4:14PM "Where the story takes place and how much of it takes place in each location, want to give a sense of the scale and grandness of the world."

4:13PM Beautiful yellow-washed Draenor concept art.

4:13PM Locations: Couple of pieces of very early concept art that we can show. Audience cheers loudly at this.

4:13PM Pardo: One of the things I think we talk a lot about is, Warcraft is such a huge franchise that the worry is where to put the spotlight. Which characters do you showcase because movies are more about characters.

4:12PM Chris: Had been working on multiple iterations of the story before Duncan came on board. Everyone in the community wants to see their thing: "Where's the troll movie?" Kind of a process on honing in on the most universal things in Warcraft that appeals to everyone despite faction or racial loyalties. What's the touchpoint?

4:11PM Duncan: One of the difficult decisions was what part of the lore to focus on because the story is so vast with so many memorable characters now. Wanted to focus on Warcraft's origins and why the story exists in the first place.

4:11PM Pardo: Can you talk more about the lore and story and adapting?

4:10PM Bill: Incredible team at Industrial Light & Magic working on this for us and you'll be happy with what you see.

4:10PM Bill: Live action with CGI, extremely complex, we like to call it Avatar meets Game of Thrones in terms of overall style. Live-action actors for orcs and striving for even minute detail to get it down.

4:10PM Bill: These are Warcraft fans who are making this and we want to make it special.

4:09PM Bill: (Audience approves at being able to hear him) Just about spit up my coffee when someone asked me whether I'd had experience with the Warcraft universe because I'd been playing since the alpha. Was on set on Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe still leveling up -- gotta do what you gotta do!

4:08PM Pardo is having issues with his mic and the audience is shouting to get it fixed.

4:08PM Duncan: So easy to get sucked into projects that you have no personal connection to, so I really wanted to be involved in something that I did have that connection to. Want everyone to understand and empathize with the orc war heroes as much as the human beings.

4:07PM Very worried about what the audience would want or accept on Blizzard's end; would audience root for orcs given the negative associations in popular culture? That was a concern.

4:06PM Chris Metzen: We were working through stories for a very long time and the balance was very important to us, but some versions we'd danced around and Duncan said IT HAS TO BE THIS.

4:06PM Read the script. Wanted it to be the Warcraft that he felt it deserved to be, and the original script was very, very human- and Alliance-centric. "It's got to be both red and clue, it's got to be both sides."

4:05PM Duncan: Been playing games for a while and used to be involved in Ultima Online and was a clan leader for that. Whole clan migrated to WoW when it came out, huge fan of the game and then started getting busy with "Moon," his first feature film. "Source Code" came afterwards and then had the opportunity to do several different films, and became aware of the Warcraft property out on the market. Sought some involvement. Fortunately -- "unforutnately for other people, but fortunately for me!" -- he got the chance.

4:04PM Starting with Duncan.

4:04PM Disclaimer: We are still over 2 years away from the movie's release date and have not started filming. Want to discuss background of filmmakers and overall story because we still have a ways to go.

4:03PM Nick Carpenter, VP of cinematics at Blizzard and responsible for all of the awesome Blizz films we see. Heroes of the Storm cinematic we saw yesterday was his department (and by the way it was amazing).

4:02PM Bill Westenoffer, special effects supervisor. Won 2 Oscars for Life of Pi and The Golden Compass. Level 90 Alliance mage -- lots of Horde booing to be heard.

4:02PM Chris Metzen, who really needs no introduction to the BlizzCon crowd.

4:02PM Two more people present at the panel than expected. Introduced Duncan Jones, director of Moon and Source Code, now on the Warcraft movie. Has been playing WC since the beginning and even Lost Vikings, a VERY early Blizzard game.

4:00PM Here we go!

3:58PM Panel should start momentarily. DirecTV presenters are saying we will get some concrete news on story, though perhaps not cast. Will start production in Vancouver next year.

3:44PM Present at the panel today will be Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo, and Duncan Jones, the director of the film.

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