The realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, an unlikely set of heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their families and home.
The number one challenge for this film was breathing life into the orcs. ILM had to create an entire race who could hold their own against the live actors in the film. For this, ILM not only created a wide range of features with immense detail, but also showcased groundbreaking work on facial motion capture to make sure the emotion and performances from the actors came through. ILM’s animation and effects simulations teams received two Annie Award nominations, one for Outstanding Character Animation in a Live Action Production and the other for Outstanding Achievement in Animated Effects in a Live Action Production and a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award nomination for Outstanding Animated Performance in a Photoreal Feature for Durotan.
Another challenge on the film was creating the multitude of orc and dwarf hair styles, facial hair, and hairy creatures such as the ferocious frost wolves. Hair that looks and behaves naturally is one of the more difficult effects you can achieve in computer graphics. There was wide variety – and lengths – to create, with intricate braids, beards, and furs. To complete the work, ILM created a software tool called Haircraft specifically focused on grooming hair. In 2021 HairCraft was honored with a Sci-Tech Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In addition to these two main areas, ILM was responsible for world building and created a variety of complex photorealistic environments complete with assorted and plentiful foliage and plant life, orc armies, all manner of magical effects and additional creature work.