At the end of the 25th century, in high orbit over the fringe planet Chau Sara, the first volatile human contact with alien life was made. The Zerg hive spores had infested the topsoil of the planet, even now turning the planet's inhabitants to the will of the Zerg Overmind. High Templar Tassadar, Executor of the Koprulu Expeditionary Fleet, was ordered by the Protoss Conclave to burn the subtly-infested Terran worlds. Thinking that the humans could still be saved, Tassadar personally scouted the planet in his command ship, the Gantrithor, in order to confirm the extent of the infestation.
The Battlecruiser commanders of the Lomak, the Gettion and the Nikita were ordered to investigate the unexpected warp signatures detected by the Confederate scanners. Commodore Brownfield, fearing another rebel incursion into Confederate space, boldly led the Battlecruisers against this new threat. Yet this threat was far more than he, or even humanity, had bargained for.
Judicator Aldaris contemplated the fate of the humans in his sanctum, aboard the Arbiter command ship. On the Koprulu expedition, Aldaris represented the will of the Protoss Conclave. He expected that these Zerg which have gripped the Terran fringe planets were a far greater threat than anyone ever realized. Aldaris knew that Tassadar, who was the most vocal of the Templar to question the Conclave's judgments, wished to spare the humans. Aldaris also knew this to be folly; the Protoss could take no risks. Yet, the Conclave's decree could not be ignored. Aldaris relayed their mandate to Tassadar, and knew that even he would not dare disobey a direct order from them. As expected, Aldaris soon received confirmation from the Executor. He nodded and contacted the fleet. "It is time," Aldaris intoned, "Configure your ships for dimensional recall."
Private Deckard, on a routine patrol of the peaks of Chau Sara, received an incoming transmission. Reports were flooding in from the capital city of Los Andares: all Confederate ships had been inexplicably destroyed. Even now, a few of the remaining vessels which lingered in low orbit began plummeting towards the surface. Some could be seen with the naked eye as their wreckage blazed across the sky, leaving a trail of fire in their wake. Attempting to catch a glimpse, Private Deckard stepped out of his vehicle and onto the precipice of Atina canyon...
With a heavy heart, Tassadar powered up the fleet's weapons systems and unleashed a surgical barrage of primal energies upon the unsuspecting planet. The weapons, fired with uncanny precision into the tectonic fissures, caused massive fluctuations within the planetary mantle, leaving the planet devastated and crumbling from the inside out. Aside from a pocket of Marines hidden in a fortified bunker deep below the planet's crust, there were no survivors. The first contact has been made, and the StarCraft universe will never be the same.
Most carriers have no weapon batteries of any kind, but their deployment of interceptor flights makes them devastating in a ship-to-ship battle. However, a handful of heavily armed "super carriers" exist, most famously the Gantrithor. This was the flagship of Executor Tassadar when he led a protoss expeditionary force in its attempts to eradicate the zerg in terran space. The Gantrithor was powerful enough that it single-handedly defeated an entire terran battlecruiser squadron under the command of General Edmund Duke.
The StarCraft Community, despite being mature, is on the brink of undergoing a major expansion. StarCraft: Legacy is poised to harness that new energy, that new influx of fresh blood, but at the same time we are at the forefront of leveraging both the resources and the varied talents that already exist within the community. And we hope we can still inspire some awe - deliver something that isn't normally produced or created for the community, by members of the community. For the past several months, there have been scheduled and unscheduled meetings, hundreds of emails, critiques, improvements, redesigns, and lots of laughter - because we've been doing what we enjoy the most - creating something for the community for no reason other than to produce something exclusive for you - our members, whether you've been with us the for the whole journey or if you just stumbled upon us today. With this high-quality fan-cinematic we have sought to bridge the gap between professionalism and the traditional fan-created fare, between the lore and our imaginations, and between our vision and reality.
SC:L is proud to present StarCraft: First Contact:
SC:L would like to offer a huge "thank you" to our Tassadar voice actor, Phillip Sacramento, who graciously donated his times and talent to this project. Please take the time to visit his site here.
This cinematic was developed by Freespace, a member of the SC:L staff, in association with StarCraft: Legacy:
SC:L - How did you become interested in CGI and 3d-animation?
It's funny really, because it all started back in 2000 when I first played StarCraft, and saw those awesome cinematics they had throughout the game. I had always enjoyed CG in movies, but this gripped me like nothing before. I went to an internet cafe, found the Blizzard site and they had this job opening for people using 3ds max. So that's how they did those cutscenes! I immediately did my best to find out about the program, and that's how I gradually got into the CGI world. At first it was simple curiosity, then an evergrowing hobby and it eventually turned into my day to day activity and job.
SC:L - How did you become interested in StarCraft?
I was a huge Dune II ( the first conventional RTS ) fan since my early gaming years. I would spend entire afternoons trying to outsmart those damned Atreides, or conquer the emperor's base with my army of Harkonnen Devastators. StarCraft was simply taking that concept to perfection, and I fell in love with it instantly. And the best thing about it was that it introduced you into its universe one step at a time, never overwhelming you with details or unknowns.
SC:L - Who is your favorite StarCraft character?
My favourite StarCraft character has to be Zeratul. He is like the Optimus Prime of Starcraft. He is a conflicted leader figure, very powerful and determined yet always ready to put his life on the line for the greater good. He is deeply involved in the Xel'Naga arc, definitely going to play an important role in StarCraft II. Besides, seeing him in the StarCraft II intro teaser has forever fortified his position as my favourite character. A very close second is Tassadar, for the excellent way he was portrayed and voiced over the course of the game.
SC:L - What was the most difficult part of developing StarCraft: First Contact?
The most difficult part was switching to an HD resolution for cinematics. Most of the animations done before were at 720/420 or lower resolution, and I could get away with a lot of stuff that way. In HD at 1280/720 resolution EVERYTHING shows, and that means a ton more detail and care needs to go into everything from the modeling, to texturing to post-production. It was also a challenge to get some larger scenes to render efficiently, but I think the crispy clear images that resulted were worth it all.
SC:L - What part of the cinematic did you enjoy most?
I mostly enjoyed making the Marine. I've had some attempts before, but this one I think really nailed it. I used the Starcraft Ghost intro as reference for the armor and watched all the StarCraft cinematics before getting to work on his head. Putting in lots of little details like rust, scratches and decals on the armor as well as scars and tattoos on the Marine was really fun. It gave life to the character, it gave him personality and a history. He also digs listening to western music while patrolling the dusty cliffs of Chau Sara.
SC:L - Given more time, what would you have improved in the cinematic?
I would have liked to have the Marine say something at the sight of those searing beams of light, but getting a proper lip sync to function would have taken more time than I had at my disposal for finishing this up on schedule. Also I would have liked to do some more Interceptor action, but it was quite challenging to animate those wild things within a battle and I felt I should focus on the other parts of the cinematic.
SC:L - Describe some of the technologies and programs you used to create cinematic. How long was the rendering process for the entire cinematic?
Well, most of the work ( modeling, animation, render passes ) was done in 3ds max, using the awesome built-in mental ray renderer ( and a few things like particles and fog in scanline ). I have software in my workflow for getting things done, but the most important thing to keep note of is the passion, dedication and creativity that one needs to have in order to succeed in CG. With the powerful software available these days, the only limit is one's imagination. The rendering process took around one month. It was really optimized, doing separate render passes wherever possible and sticking it back together in post-processing, as it offers greater speed and most importantly great control over everything. I worked on Quad Core workstations, and in some cases they were pushed to the limit. The number of memory limit errors I had during this project is an all new record, one that I hope I never break. :)
The following are work-in-progress images for the cinematic's development:
The following is an interview with LordofAscension, administrator of SC:L, and the creative consultant for this cinematic:
- How did you become interested in StarCraft?
I received the game as a birthday present in 1998 and I haven’t been able to put it down since. Since I first started playing, I have created and led three clans and several smaller sites before coming to take over SC:L. Now I continue to love and enjoy the SC story, game-play, merchandise, and community.
- Who is your favorite StarCraft character?
Tassadar – he is an amazing character in every way. Michael Gough’s voicework, the animation, his storyline – they’re all brilliant. I absolutely love that Metzen described him as the Twilight Messiah. Tassadar was the precursor and the key to the Protoss’ continued survival in the Koprulu Sector. I still have high hopes that he returns in some form in StarCraft II. In case you hadn’t noticed – most of SC:L v7.0 is based around the Protoss with a Tassadar theme for a reason.
- Why did you choose this scene?
We chose this scene for a few reasons. To begin with, the Protoss' ability to purify planets was discussed in the games and in the novels but no visual representation to had been attempted, either by Blizzard or by a fan team, until now. Additionally, Tassadar's story is really crucial to understanding the StarCraft story. With all the focus currently on StarCraft II we wanted to remember and honor the legacy of the first game.
- Describe the creative approach of this cinematic's development.
Well, we started by really trying to define what that scene was about. We knew we wanted to depict an important part of the lore and do so with a throwback to a classic and amazing character. When we were envisioning the piece the cinematic was only planned to serve as an intro at the site coming in at about 30 seconds – obviously once we really started getting into it we knew we could make it much more. Thanks to Freespace we were able to take our collaborative vision and create something that we hope every SC fan will enjoy.
- What part of the cinematic did you enjoy most?
How do you choose – especially because we designed the scenes but for me personally, I think it is the entire scene in which Tassadar’s Ganthrithor wipes out the three Battlecruisers. Tassadar looks great, the Battlecruisers (and explosions) are fantastic, and the Supercarrier’s super weapon, as alluded to in the StarCraft2.com lore page for the carrier, far surpassed my expectations.
- Given more time, what would you have improved in the cinematic?
Honestly, I think the only thing that I wish we’d had more time to do was to make it longer and render more models for the planetary purge scene, such as Protoss Motherships. I would also have liked to have seen the planetary beam destroy our poor marine. However, we were excited to get it out the door and I feel like the cinematic is right up to par and will help define our vision for the future – clean, sleek, and epically amazing.