Ark were asked to produce the intro and advertising movie for Empire: Total War. This was a big challenge for such a small team and we were really looking forward to it. The Total War series is well known for it huge battles with tens of thousands of individual soldiers on vast landscapes. We’d already been demoing Massive (from Weta digital .. used for the battle scenes in Lord of the Rings and others) and knew it was perfect so we decided to invest in it. The story and mood boards were fantastic and we knew exactly how it was going to look. Then the client decided they actually wanted to focus in on small skirmishes. They weren’t selling that the game involved these huge battles but that you could zoom down onto an individual soldier. So we had a bit of a rethink and came up with what you see here.


This is a short movie showing some of the passes used in the first scene.

We used low res game models for the animatics and for some of the background characters but everything else was scratch built on top of the game models. Some of the textures are re-purposed game textures but most were far too low res to be of use.

I was given all the sea battle shots – the intro and outro – the battles of Minorca and Trafalgar. Water .. lots of water. Creating convincing interactive water is a difficult task at the best of times but with the addition of short deadline and no R+D time you have to compromise. We animated the low res models in Maya and then rendered the high res in Lightwave. While it has its limitations compared to say Maya, this can actually be of benefit when faced with a deadline. You know where the boundaries are and where to spend the time. Provided we weren’t too ambitious we could do most of it out of the box.

We were asked to create an image for a poster and magazine back cover. Due to time constraints we had to split it up so James converted a game mesh for the upper torso, made the flag and tweaked the final comp, I modelled, sculpted and textured his boots, legs, and sword, sculpted his face, textured his clothing and created the many national clothing and flag combinations.

And this was a later repaint.

Vimeo won’t let us direct link to an HD video via the gallery so this embedded one maybe of more use.