Sunday, 18 July 2010


Ever since I was a child I've always loved game cinematics. I remember spending more time watching them all over again then actually playing the games... *Sigh* Good old times - now I don't have time to play anymore... :-D Still, watching cinematics of all sorts remains my favorite free time activity. Every time there's a new video by Blizzard, Blur Studios, Digic Pictures, Zoic or many other great companies, it becomes a huge event for me.

And that's the reason why I decided to sort it all out and create my personal TOP 10. Unfortunately I soon realized there's so many great videos that influenced me, that it's simply impossible to make only TOP 10. The final number quickly became 15, then 20 and finally it stopped at 25. Yeah, TOP 25 is not really a typical count - but I'm finally satisfied with the list.

On the other hand don't take the order of videos too seriously. While there are of course some that I like more and some that I like less, all of the cinematics are indeed brilliant and awesome. Let's say that numbers 25-15 are those that I really like. 14-6 are those that I love. 5-1 are those that influenced me in many ways in my own filmmaking + are my childhood favorites :-)

If you have other favorites or simply think I forgot something, please, post them in the discussion. I'll be happy to watch something new. But enough talk - let's watch!

25. Mechwarrior 3 [Microprose]
At the age of 9 or 10 I loved this cinematic. And even after all those years, it's still pretty awesome, considering the game was made in 1999. Of course it looks old, but you have to admit, the sound, the music, even the models and some effects are still very good. And the video has a great mood and pacing.

24.Warhammer Online cinematic [Blur Studios]
Great cinematic by Blur Studios. Made with their distinctive sense of dark humor and superb attention to detail. The digital warfare looks great, the video is fun to watch, animation is excellent. For me personally there's something missing though - it could've been something more than a good looking video. Anyway, enjoy it and don't forget to watch the Making of by Gnomon school of VFX .

23.Dragon Age [Blur Studios]
Awesome video, exceptional mostly for its music. The electric quitars and Duncan's voiceover make the slashing of Dark Spawn so great that the first part of the video is something I could watch over and over again. Unfortunately the second part is ruined for me by the white background (not enough budget?). Anyway, it's yet another great piece from the Blur Studios.

22. Metal Gear Solid 4 [Konami]
Hideo Kojima loves his cinematics and every single video in all his games proves that. It's hard to say which MGS4 cutscene is best, but my own personal favorite is featured in this trailer at 3.58 - Raiden vs Vamp. Unbelievable action and must see sequence! I also strongly recommend to watch all the cutscenes.

21. Max Payne 2 [Remedy]
The tragic fate of Max Payne moved me deeply when playing the game and this trailer for the second installment of the franchise is just soaked with that specific noir atmosphere that I love so much. "When you're looking down the barrel of the gun, the time slows down." Genial! And it doesn't even matter that it features in-game graphics from the year 2003.

20. MGS Twin Snakes [Konami]
This 28 minutes long video is actually a trailer. And a very good trailer too. It's made from in game cutscenes and filled with the depth and epicness of MGS series. The action scenes are awesome. Must see! "You enjoy all the killing - that's why!"

19. Warhammer 40.000 Dawn of War Cinematic [Blur Studios]
Yet another great piece by Blur, featuring everybody's favorite Space Marines against savage Orks. Explosive action, insane graphics, video great in every aspect and a real fun to watch. And I've always felt sorry for the heroic captain who died after charging the hill and sticking the Blood Raven flag into the ground. He was a hero... :-D

18. Force Unleashed 2 [Blur Studios]
Blur, Blur, Blur...those guys are awesome! And this video likewise. There are few things that bug me though - the voiceover of Sam Witwer aka Starkiller isn't really convincing for me. The fact that Vader left poor stormtroopers to kill his super powerful apprentice was naive (I mean - how many hundreds of stormtroopers died trying to achieve the same thing during the first game?). The amount of slow motion sequences was unbalanced, it felt too much for me. But still, the video features many great moments. Starkiller disappearing and reappearing in the darkness lit only by his sabers. The Force blast power burning the stormtroopers. The crushing of the robots in midair. And of course the cliffhanger ending.

17. Mass Effect 2 cinematic [Blur Studios]
Now this is something cool. Unlikely band of brothers join together to continue the fight in the best sci-fi action RPG series ever. Shepherd is back, so are biotic powers, Krogans and new horrific threat from the deep space. And we also get to see Miranda in motion...hmmm ;-). This video features many awesome moments (Grunt killing the huge worm on Tuchanka, Thane side flipping over the Collector...) but the one that rules the all for me is when the group is preparing their guns to fight the gigantic spaceships invading the planet (2.51). Flawless cinematic!

16. World of Warcraft Intro [Blizzard Ent.]
A visual orgy joined with a wonderful music. I remember the moment when I watched this video for the first time - and I was blown away. The action, the graphics, the colors and the mood. And as with all the videos from Blizzard, this one brings something more under its surface. Something very hard to describe, something I can only call as "cinematic magic". Just watch and feel it for yourself. Oh, and the best moments? For me its 0.44 and the Dwarf with his bear and also 1.48 and Tauren on a cliff. Magic...

15. The Old Republic: Hope of Alderran cinematic [Blur Studios]
This year's E3 was a great one for fans of cinematics. The Hope of Alderran features great action from the soldier's point of view of, wonderful hot-chick-Jedi vs bad-ass-Sith duel, Force unleashed in yet another form, beautiful matte paintings and tons of great moments (slow-mo sequence of Sith warriors executing the soldiers, Jedi catching the Lightsaber with the Force and the ending). Maybe too frequent use of slow-mo for my taste, but I guess that's what Blur decided to go for this year. And it kinda hit me to hear the video start with "For centuries..." just like in the Dragon Age Origins cinematic. But I guess I'm just nitpicking....It's awesome :-).

14. Warhammer Mark of Chaos [Digic Pictures]
One of my all time favorites for it's dark mood. Here comes Digic Pictures, ladies and gentlemen, and even though they don't do as many videos as Blur, they make masterpieces. The washed out colors, scary forrest set, mist everywhere...I really wouldn't like to be in the soldier's shoes. It is actually worth mentioning - the Chaos warriors DO look scarry and the demon at the end is just horrifying for me. There is also a very specific moment in the video at 3.23 when the warrior and the demon are about to clash that gives me goosebumps. Just try to download the video and stop it right there. This is the real deal there! Every frame of the video could be a beautiful wallpaper.

13. Halo Wars [Blur Studios]
A masterpiece by Blur. I love Spartans and everything about Halo. And let me tell you - when hearing "This is Spartan group Omega. If they want war - we'll give 'em war!" I wanted to shout in excitement. I heard the game itself wasn't that good but I recommend you to watch all the cutscenes. It's about 45 minutes long film, full CG and one of the best achievements of Blur. Do you need more reasons? :-)

12. Mass Effect 2 trailer [Bioware]
It is strange, but this trailer for my beloved game hit me more than the Blur cinematic, even though it's made "just" with in-game cinematics. It is probably because of the music by Two Steps from Hell, the awesome editing and the fact that I waited for the game for so long. Putting in the game magazine comments and ratings turned out to be a very clever thing to do (triple 10/10 gives me shivers :-) just like seeing "Directed by James Cameron" in the Avatar trailer). The voiceovers are great and support the trailer brilliantly. There is maybe too much heroism at one place, but hell - this is Shepard. This is our character! :-D Best moments? 0.58 - 1.05 with the Illusive Man's line and Tali sliding into the unknown with Shepard following her. 1.40 - 1.51 with Shepard's heroic line. The destruction of Normandy. Goosebumps ride!

11. Halo 3 E3 trailer [Bungie]
Final 10! There were tons of great videos promoting Halo 3 but the very first one from the year 2006 still seems the best to me. Magical music, the return of the long lost Hero, quest for saving the Earth that is about to be destroyed and long awaited conclusions of the series...There is always something epic about Master Chief no matter where he is or what he does. And even though he's in a desert and doesn't actually do anything - it's just mindblowing. The Covenant are about to do something terrible and he's the only one who can stop them.

10. Final Fantasy Crisis Core [Square Enix]
Ever since I was introduced to the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children CG film, the whole universe enchanted me. Now every CG video from the series just blows me away. Again I recommend to watch all the Crisis Core cinematics on Youtube for they are all great ... but dying Zack was the most beautiful one for me. Japanese people are so different when it comes to tragedy, often very pathetic, but more often simply wonderful.

9. Deus Ex 3 [Square Enix]
The third installment of the legendary Deus Ex franchise is back and it seems we should prepare for something big. The first cinematic trailer doesn't show the actuall look of the game, what it shows are awesome CG cut scenes with perfect graphics, amazing music and brilliant action. It all looks like Blade Runner on steroids - and it's a good thing! I love the main hero and I love the fact, that there's hopefully going to be some pretty solid storyline involved. Let's hope the game is going to be as great as this trailer. And don't forget to watch the intro to Deus Ex 2 also...

8. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood [Digic Pictures]
And here we go again, Digic Pictures steals the show. Even among many other excellent videos on E3 2010 the Brotherhood stood out. Great look and animation, pacing, excellent mood, epicness on every step, great use of Slow Motion sequences, Etzio Auditore and his fellow assassins - no more words, just WATCH!

7. The Old Republic: Deceived Cinematic [Blur Studios]
A year ago Blur Studios showed Lucas how the modern Star Wars should look. Since then we all hope one day an actual SW movie like this will become reality. Nothing so far - but we can at least watch this awesomeness over and over again :-) Flawless video balanced on every step. Great voiceover, awesome wu-shu style fighting, girl bounty hunter, kick-ass Sith warriors and visual orgy. In my opinion better cinematic than the Hope of Alderran, but it's just a matter of taste.

6. Warcraft 3 Arthas Betrayal [Blizzard Ent.]
Now it's getting personal. Warcraft 3 cinematics influenced me so much that I became a filmmaker. Every single video from this game is simply mind-blowing. Also, one cannot say it's just a cheap action - more often it's all about the characters and their actions. This is a typical example. Tragic story of prince Arthas is getting darker with every chapter of the campaign and you just watch him grow into something mad and demonical. This is a conclusion of the human campaign. One I would never expect, but love all the more.
Btw. I strongly recommend to buy the Blizzard Entertainment DVD Collection that includes all the cinematics from Warcraft 3 as well as Starcraft and Diablo II. Don't forget to watch the Frozen Throne datadisc's Intro and Outro too.

5. Diablo II Intro [Blizzard Ent.]
There is something enchanting about Diablo franchise - the gothic mood, the scary darkness on every step, the mystery and depth of the story. I've always loved the game and I couldn't stop watching its cinematics. The story of an old man Marius and his long forgotten adventure, of archangels and mighty demons, of his mysterious companion and world so unlike other fantasy universes - one simply cannot resist it. The action in these cinematics is not very frequent or frantic yet they remain interesting and fun to watch even when there's no ork slashing or demon killing. True masterpiece.
Again I must recommend to buy the Blizzard Entertainment DVD Collection where you can find Developer Commentary and many other special features. And be sure to check the Lord of Destruction cinematics also.

4. StarCraft 2 Announcement [Blizzard Ent.]
Yes, the top of my list belongs to Blizzard. I was fortunate enough to first watch it in a camera version where I was able to hear all the cheers of the crowd gathered at the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in Seoul, South Korea on May 19, 2007. It was a unique experience. Something so patiently awaited now finally announced - and you could hear the people holding their breath, screaming, cheering. The video itself is genial, presenting something as ordinary as creating a Terran Space Marine as a huge event. The amount of detail to be seen, its visual quality and atmosphere of anticipation joined together with excellent editing - this is what it's all about.

I encourage you to watch the camera version of the video with the cheering crowd. Man, I'd love to be there too!

3. Onimusha 3 Demon Siege [Capcom]
This Japanese masterpiece remains unmatched among many high quality action videos on my cinematics list. It's more than 5 years old and still its look, models, effects and especially the animation are simply amazing. I have no idea what the story's about for I've never actually played the game, but something tells its universe is deep and very detailed. Also the imagination of the designers is probably supported by drugs :-D. Anyway - if you want to see two supercows fighting a ninja, be sure not to miss this. The fights will blow you away! I can't tell you how many times I've already seen this.

2. Warcraft 3 Opening [Blizzard Ent.]
Back to Blizzard, here comes the second place. When I told you there were in-game videos that Id watched more than Id actually played the games - this is the case. Wonderful music, beautiful environments, powerful voiceover, action, heroes, orks, burning skies, hidden threats, epicness and awesomeness on every frame of the video - this was simply extraordinary when I was 14 and today it remains the same. It was a great time for me - first it was Fellowship of the Ring and then Blizzard who presented me with my favorite thing ever: huge armies hitting each other in a fury and rage. Otherwise I'm quite normal.

1. World of Warcraft Wratch of the Lich King Opening Cinematic [Blizzard Ent.]
Uh, yeah, if you haven't noticed already, I AM a fan of Blizzard :-) And this...THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING CINEMATIC EVER. For me it depicts everything I love about these videos. A voiceover telling a story of great irony and tragedy. An atmosphere of constant anticipation of something dark to come. A visual style that is beautiful and huge. Almost supernatural hand animation. Again almost nothing's happening, there's a guy in the ice, dragon in the ice, army in a freezing valley...and that's all. Yet if you know the story, it is so much more. And that is what it's all about - to make the stories of the games alive. And no one's ever been better at it than Blizzard.

And that's it! We reached the end of my list of epicness. I really hope you enjoyed every single one of the videos and don't forget - if you know other great cinematics, post them here in the discussion. Thank you all for watching!

Honorable Mentions
Gears of War Mad World [Epic Games]
Final Fantasy XIII Cutscenes [Square Enix]
World of Warcraft Burning Crusade [Blizzard Ent.]
Prototype [Blur Studios]
Assassin's Creed II [Digic Pictures]
Hellgate London Cinematic Trailer [Blur Studios]
Hellgate London Cinematic Intro [Blur Studios]
Final Fantasy Versus XIII [Square Enix]
Section 8 [Blur Studios]
Dawn of War II [Blur Studios]
Dragon Age Origins Battle at Ostagar [Bioware]
Dragon Age Origins Sacred Ashes [Blur Studios]
Starcraft 2 Old Rivals [Blizzard Ent.]
Diablo 3 trailer [Blizzard Ent.]
Armies of Exigo Intro [Digic Pictures]

Videos by Others
World in Conflict NYC trailer [tip by Nightwayne]
Final Fantasy X Yuna Sending [tip by Vespuche]
Final Fantasy X Opening [tip by stanley2011]
Lost Odyssey [tip by hundredgunner]
Killzone 2 Cinematic[tip by zezyan2]
Rise of Legends Intro [tip by LegendaryKnight]
Dissidia: Final Fantasy Intro [tip by FFXNo1]
Napoleon Total War Intro [tip by Drizzt]

- MK

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Showreel 2010

And here's also the new showreel - I tweaked the Making of SotP video a little and called it final.

And yeah...that's about it for Shadows of the Past. One chapter of my life is over...let's move on to more exciting things now! Many people asked me what am I planing for my next project. The ideas are numerous and I must say I have a hard time staying low and controlling myself...because I'd really love to make an epic 90 minutes movie with blowing spaceships, charging armies, complex characters and great storyline (Stories first! Hmm, why do I keep naming it last? Focus, Martin!). The only way that certain is that...I'm not certain which of those concepts in my head should I pick first.

But I can tell you one thing - I want to make a CG short film before I (hopefully) shoot the third part of my SW trilogy. Which means I must study following topics: CG character modeling, texturing, rigging and animation. Which is not exactly a small thing...I'm currently finishing the modeling and texturing.

If I'll work hard enough (and I will!) I'll be able to finish the self-study course till the end of this year. Then I'll pick one story from my collection and make it into a short CG film. That's the plan. And I'm the man of my word...

P.S. Anyone talented in CG work willing to join me in my efforts, please, send me a message :-)

- MK

Sunday, 11 July 2010