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Entertainment
Updated: Nov 14, 2007 - 22:02:25 PST
 

Tim Campbell, curator for Blizzard Entertainment, installs a small screen to display a video trailer as part of the World of Warcraft exhibit at the Art Institute in Santa Ana Wednesday.

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Example to war by

Art institute gives students examples of how work can be used commercially through WoW exhibit.

More than 9 million subscribers worldwide pay a monthly fee to enter the “World of Warcraft,” a multiplayer online role-playing game.

The game is part of the Warcraft series designed by Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment, which recently released “The Burning Crusade,” its first expansion of “World of Warcraft.”

The Art Institute of California-Orange County will showcase artwork and images including magazine covers, novels, action figures and a board game from “The Burning Crusade” in an exhibit opening at 5:30 p.m. today.

The exhibit will focus on the role of art and style in the game universe. Kevin McCarty, the institute’s gallery committee chairman, said he has been trying to steer more shows toward the commercial arts.

McCarty, a photography instructor in the institute’s graphics design department, said it is important for students to be able see the origin and design of “valid and valuable artwork from industry.”

Blizzard approached the school to see if it would be interested in a gallery show.

Unlike many commercial game art companies, where art is produced in a digital medium, Blizzard produces work from a digital archive that is graphic ready and framed for exhibition.

At the institute, the gallery is used as a lab and an extension of the classroom, enabling students to see work that they may ultimately be interested in creating, McCarty said.

“Our students want to create those games and get into that industry.”

As part of its curriculum, the school installed monitors in designated areas where students can sit and play video games between classes.

McCarty said part of teaching students how to make the games is hands-on instruction.

Launched in January, “The Burning Crusade” sold a record 2.4 million copies in its first 24 hours of availability, and went on to become the fastest selling PC game of all time.

Jeff Chamberlain, project lead at Blizzard Entertainment, is part of the cinematics team that creates shorts for all of the company’s games, including the StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo universes.

Cinematics are pre-rendered movie clips that usually last about three minutes, Chamberlain said, and serve as a narrative before or during the game.

Blizzard’s games are known to have a strong story background, or lore, and the cinematics tell the more difficult part of the story behind the game.

In Blizzard’s more linear games, the cinematics move the story along, providing information the characters need in an entertaining way.

Because “World of Warcraft” is a non-linear game with no definitive goal, Chamberlain explained cinematics play a different role than in the other games.

“For ‘World of Warcraft’ we created an intro to produce an overall feel for the game, and in ‘The Burning Crusade’ the key point was to get players excited to play.”

Chamberlain’s opening night presentation will focus on the process behind cinematics, from the initial concept to the finished product.

While “World of Warcraft” enthusiasts will have plenty to see at the event, Blizzard is keeping them in the dark about the release date of its second expansion, "Wrath of the Lich King.”

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Guest lecture and opening night reception for “World of Warcraft” exhibit

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. today. The exhibit will run through Feb. 15

WHERE: Art Institute of California-Orange County, 3601 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana

COST: Free

INFO: Call (714) 830-0221 or go to http://www.artinstitutes.edu/

For information on World of Warcraft and other Blizzard entertainment games, go to http://www.blizzard.com/

For more photos of the exhibit, click here.




SUE THOENSEN may be reached at (714) 966-4627 or at sue.thoensen@latimes.com.


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