On June 30, 2009, StarCraft: Legacy was honored to present our first collaboration with Chris "Freespace" Ciocotisan, the fan cinematic StarCraft: First Contact. Its reception from StarCraft fans, critical success, and wide distribution both humbled and rekindled our passion. It inspired us to continue our mutual search to create first-class content for the community. Today, we are proud to present the fruits of those efforts. For the last 16 months, Chris, with a little help from a wide range of contributors and StarCraft Legacy staff, has worked tirelessly to create a technical superior sequel to our first cinematic endeavor. StarCraft: Final Metamorphosis is complete. It depicts several scenes from the events occurring before and during the Brood War era. It was created, like First Contact, to cinematically recreate canonical lore scenes from the games, the books, and other parts of the extended universe and hopefully, for 7 minutes and 30 seconds entertain you, by taking you once more into the heart of the war-torn Koprulu Sector.
For four months, the bloodiest battles of the modern era raged across the heavens and upon the scarred planets of the Koprulu Sector. In October of the year 2500, the Brood War ended abruptly. Kerrigan, the self-styled Queen of Blades, had risen from the ashes of her former Terran form, discarded upon the ruins of Tarsonis, and embraced her birthright as the undisputed ruler of the Zerg Swarm. Freed by the Overmind from the constraints imposed by her neural implant and the morality of her humanity, Kerrigan became so much more. After the Overmind’s invasion of Aiur and untimely death, Kerrigan at last embodied the will of the Swarm and assumed her place as sole ruler of the infinite host.
After her ascension, Kerrigan directed the full fury of the Swarm upon her enemies. The Zerg relentlessly bore down upon those that sought to hinder the Queen of Blades. Yet defiantly, even casually, she brushed aside the combined might of the determined Terran and the mighty Protoss.
However, the success of her campaign was not without obstacles. While she inevitably rose to power, other ancient, powerful forces were awakening and lessons had yet to be learned.
The following is a brief record of events that occurred, in no particular order, both before and during the events of the Brood War, the story of Kerrigan’s rise to power.
What did you learn from First Contact?
First Contact taught me that I love portraying events from the StarCraft universe. Playing the game since I was 12, I always dreamt of new scenes or even re-imagining things we had already seen in the game. To be able to bring life to my vision of that universe is beyond words. It brought me great pleasure creating scenes important to the lore, then seeing how fellow fans of CG and of the game reacted to them. Last but not least, I learned Tassadar is a badass and that's the only proper way to portray him as.
Were you surprised by the community's reaction?
I hoped and expected people to enjoy it, but it really blew up with most of the StarCraft sites posting about it. You never realize the strength of a community until you really see it in action. The best part was whenever people were confusing it with some missing secret cinematic from the original StarCraft.
Technically, how is Final Metamorphosis different from First Contact?
Oh, everything is turned up several levels. First Contact was a learning experience and a sort of testing of the waters. You know, putting your head through the door to see if the coast is clear. Final Meta is barging inside with all your friends. First Contact took about two and a half months to create. Final Metamorphosis took well over a year, on far superior hardware and with improved skills.
What was the most difficult part of the cinematic to create?
Of all the things, the most difficult part was getting the Zerg to look organic. I avoided doing Zerg in First Contact because I hadn't felt prepared to portray them well enough, but I didn't get away with it this time. Sure, I spent a lot of time on modeling armor for the marines or for Tassadar's suit, but nailing the organics down and getting the skin to look like skin was trickiest for me. Now that I think about it, forget that. The most difficult part was actually respecting a deadline. In true Blizzard fashion, this kept being delayed. It's funny when I think that I initially targeted July 2010 for release. I couldn't work on this full-time, so things like graduating college and freelance CG and VFX work got in the way from time to time.
Where did the lore concepts originate from to create this many-scene experience?
After First Contact presented events just prior to the start of StarCraft's own story, me, Ryan and Andrew began brainstorming of other important or cool events for a sequel cinematic. I wanted to give a shoutout to the secondary heroes of the game, so the best star-fighter in the fleet, Tom Kazansky, opens up the cinematic. The Dark Templar saga served as inspiration for a scene, as well as the Queen of Blades book. As with First Contact, we also chose more scenes from the game lore that we never saw visually, such as the infamous bombardment of Korhal.
What has been the best part of the entire creation experience? How was working with the StarCraft Legacy team?
The best part is always seeing it all come together, after months of work. Imagine detailing the Marine suit down to the rust on their screws, then seeing several of these characters brought to life and moving on screen, their scene followed by another and so on, adding to the flow of the entire animation. The SC:L team stands by its name of lore masters. During the concepting phase, the passion of these people for the universe truly boosted my own enthusiasm for working on the project. I just wish I'd seen Ryan's face when Tassadar first shows up onscreen and tries to blow Kerrigan up.
What hardware do you use to create all of this?
I name all my computers after ships from various media. I started working on Hyperion, the same PC that First Contact was made on. Early on, that PC had left for a better place, so I turned to my new "vessels", Serenity and Normandy. They're both Core2 Quad Q9400 @2.66GHz, 4 GB Ram and GeForce GTX 260. I must say it became very frustrating to being limited by hardware especially when putting together the large scale scenes, so it was a breath of fresh air when, rather late into production, Norad, a new PC joined us, an I7 2600K @3.4 GHz with 16 GB Ram and the beautiful GeForce GTX 580. Let's just say that scene assembly and particle simulations suddenly became much easier to do.
What do you do for a living?
I'm a CG & VFX freelancer. As a generalist, I'm able to take a project from start to finish, and I can always increase my team with additional talent if the project circumstances call for it. I am very involved in the CG community, as I'm also the news editor for 3DTotal, meaning I am constantly up to speed with what's going on in the industry.
What else have you worked on?
On a personal level, I've tackled lots of short animations over the last 10 years, with varying degrees of completion. It's always these projects that always push the boundaries of what I can do, because there's always something new or more complicated that I try to achieve. I fondly remember the headaches when I first animated characters, or first tried to figure out doing explosions. I've entered and won some competitions with some of my animations, all the details are on my website. Professionally speaking, besides any NDAs I have, some of the most important work I've done would be handling all the VFX for Romania's Eurovision 2010 music video, creating and animating CG animals for a Toyota ad, a presentation material for Bechtel, lots of architectural visualization work... too many to remember.
About the Creator
Occupation: CG & VFX Artist
Education: Cluj University of Arts
Location: Cluj, Romania
Non-StarCraft related Hobbies: sci-fi books/movies/series, long walks
Currently reading: The Alien's Survival Manual
Currently playing: Deus Ex Human Revolution
Playing StarCraft since: 1999
StarCraft is awesome because: It's very compelling universe full of great characters and conflicts. I'm not in it for the multiplayer (which I enjoy to watch though), I'm in it for the singleplayer, the expanded story and lore from the books, comics, etc.
In the community since: 2001
Favorite game (FPS): Unreal Tournament 2007, Crysis 2, Half Life 2, Deus Ex Human Revolution
Favorite game (RTS): StarCraft 1 and 2, Haegemonia, World in Conflict, Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun
Favorite game ever: Master of Orion 2
Favorite StarCraft Race: Protoss as lore; Terran as gameplay
Favorite StarCraft Unit: Terran Marine
Favorite StarCraft Character: Tassadar
Favorite Comfort Food: Penne Bolognese
Favorite Meal: Oven baked potato slices with cheese, garlic and spices