Sarah Carmody — World of Warcraft: Legion Reel 2016

Stoked that I can finally share these! Here are my favorite contributions to Legion’s Launch:

Would love to know what you guys think. CC always welcome, fellow VFXers <3


This is awesome. I love the fact that the WoW artists post their reels on here giving starting out FX artists like me with interest in spells and abilities much inspiration. I hope I can make abilities as good one day. Any tips for a current student? :smiley:
I have a question about the textures you use, are they all made from scratch? Or are you allowed to use some taken from the web? Also idk if you’re allowed to say this, how similar/different is your particle system in engine compared to unity and unreal’s shuriken/cascade?

Yay, thanks! I’m jealous that this site didn’t exist when I was in school :open_mouth: haha

WoW has been around for almost 12 years so it comes with a massive library of textures. This video is probably like 50/50 old/new if I’m guessing? For example, the Arcane runes are new, but the textures scrolling through them are not (helps things stay cohesive to share). I can’t speak for other studios, but we generally don’t use anything from the web and it helps our style anyways to keep it painted from scratch.

I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say either, haha. But I think I can safely tell you we use 3dsMax to create our vfx (and models, etc). Unity / Unreal are the ones you want to be learning. Going from either of those two to in-house is like learning to use Max instead of Maya. Same thing, different wrapping.

And tips for you is just to keep at it. Make stuff, share stuff, iterate on stuff :slight_smile:


Very awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing I’ll try to give you what CC I can.

This feedback ended up quite a bit longer than I anticipated, so sorry if its too much to bother reading :smiley:

1) Loved the “Particle Badass” title, it felt like it oozed with character.

2) I would probably host on youtube I find it easier to embed on sites and generally most people are happy to use it. On the flip side anyone in our industry likely knows how to use vimeo just fine so it may not be an issue.

3) I appreciate the titles of the abilities at the bottom, it allowed me to anticipate what was coming so I knew what to look for and what it is trying to communicate.

4) Soft particles/Depth testing. I don’t know if WoW can do it, but it would certainly make some of the edges clipping into the ground softer. For a showreel it might be worth turning on if you can.

5) Lunar Strike: I didn’t notice on the first watch through, but watching again it felt a little weak at the base of the effect. It seems to want to be this lightning like moon energy striking down into the target, but it doesn’t kick up much dust or damage to the ground as it hits. It feels more like a laser burning into the target than a bolt of energy. Might have been what you were going for :slight_smile:

As the first effect in the reel this one should have a lot of oomph and power to make the viewer go “wow! that’s awesome” and keep watching.

6) Flamestrike: Looks awesome. I love the magic circle looks sweet. The effect itself doesn’t quite anticipate itself, nothing tells me the fire is about to come. I remember flamestrike in WC3 made the ground pulse with the magic circle, then the flames would come.
Still, I like this effect a lot, the fire feels hot and dangerous and the cracks in the ground make the aftermath of the flames feel all the better.

7) Winston Bubble shield: Nawww. Only thoughts on this is it doesn’t quite look like the OW bubble. It seems like your version has less hex shapes inside it. This could be result of the camera angle though as it is viewed from above rather than first person.

8) Feral Druid: Kit Update: I like how much is done here with the little time you have to show the effect. I also love that it lines up pretty nicely with the animation. I always found VFX for claws and the like that didn’t line up with my characters attacks to be a bit jarring and you have dodged that quite well.
The effect lingers for just a moment after the attack and that looks awesome! feels very comic booky or Samurai movie.

9) Hammer of Justice: The FX here are great, its a shame the animation is so tame. The effect feels big and powerful, perhaps could benefit from more ground effects once it hits the earth.
I imagine you may avoid such big dusty effects on the ground because of the number of effects that can go off in WoW.

10) Lights Wrath: I love that this one sucks the light out of enemies first then focuses it on one target. its a really cool idea.
I didn’t quite notice that it seems to heal the ones it doesn’t strike.

11) Blessing of T’uure: Its kinda hard to see what is going on with this effect, perhaps a 360 turntable would work better than the character running forwards?

12) Exploding Keg: The explosion looks great and feels weighty. The little bits of debris really helped sell the effect for me. This is the kind of weight I want some of your other effects to have when striking targets.

13) Stormkeeper: This effect looks good, my only feedback for it is that it feels a bit flat in it’s timing. The lighting turns on for a moment. then turns off and the fist is glowy. It doesn’t seem to ramp up from start to finish.
I think I would have it in three stages.

A) Big bolts of lighting sucking into the hand,
B) Glowy sphere with little bolts of lightning,
C) Big Glowy sphere with maybe one or two bolts inside it.

Watching it again, it does kinda do this already so I suppose I would exaggerate it a bit more.

14) Tidal Totem: Effect is nice. Perhaps the splashy particles could have flowed a bit like a tide, pushing out from the centre. Ideally looking a little bit like the rolling waves that are carried by the tide of the ocean.

15) Looks great you have a lot of skill and talent here. Your presentation with the bookends also makes you seem very fun and easy going.

Least Favourite effect:
Blessing of T’uure, for pretty much the reasons stated above.
I just can’t see what exactly is going on.

Favourite effect:
This is a hard one because there are so many that I like.
Honourable mentions to Flamestrike and Power of the Darkside
It is going to have to be the Exploding Keg effect. It just tells me so much about what it is.

I hope the feedback helps and isn’t too presumptuous. Your work is really nice, keep it up :smiley:
And thanks again for sharing it here, I’ll likely use it as reference when building my next showreel. I was fond of your presentation.

Great work. Just wanted to come in here and say that. Love your reel!

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Awesome work.I really need to update my reel but been spending way too much time playing wow lately :slight_smile:

Thanks for the feedback :slight_smile: Also glad you noticed that end card… I like to leave it as an easter egg, haha.

You made a lot of good points here! Also you followed a lot of them up with the exact reason why I opted to go that direction or guessed correctly at why it might be that way. Going to address of a few of them —

Most of the CC points to the nature of working hand in hand with design, and WoW in particular is “Gameplay First” (not to plug Blizzard’s pillars too hard, but it’s a good one to live by). For example, I would totally love to give Flamestrike more anticipation, but the more instant it is, the better it feels in game play. The old one had some buildup (impact happened around 20+ frames IIRC) but the damage was still actually applied at frame 0. So although a buildup would look better, in this case, instant cast feels better because it’s closer to what is actually happening.

Another thing to keep in mind, is the scope of every effect is different and needs to fit what the spell is doing. So something like Hammer of Justice (core rotation, gets used a lot, lower damage) is very different from Lunar Strike (long cast time, long cooldown, this spec’s “I’m lasering your face” moment). So your feedback is totally valid looking at these things in a grey room, but I wanted to share why one looks like a laser moon nuke and the other is a little more tame.

Blessing of T’uure is in there because I “made” the wings (kit-bashed some old Naaru assets) + FX. Included it only because I was proud of finding a way to hardcore stick to the fantasy of that Artifact without getting new assets created (too late in dev at that point). 360 turntable definitely would have sold it better, whoops haha.

Winston’s Bubble was one of those things were I’m taking a signature OW effect and having to make it look enough like that while at the same time being “WoW” enough. Getting the bubble to be transparent on the inside and opaque on the edges (I cut the video where I rotate around it sigh) was really tricky in our engine. That and the pet is pretty small in game so less hexes = more readable at that size. Shout out to Rachel for hooking me up with some quality reference vids of those Winston FX so I could match them better <3

And finally, yes WoW has soft particles but I could not, for the life of me, find a build where they were working 100% when I was putting this together haha. Such is game development.

Thanks for the notes :slight_smile:


Thanks Nick :slight_smile:

Literally all I do when I get home lately is play comp OW so… touché haha

Particle badass indeed. Lovely work Sarah!

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Inspiring stuff! Well done, and thanks for sharing :^]

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Very cool and fun reel. :slight_smile:

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I love love love it! Very inspiring work Sarah. Thank you for sharing the work and keep it up!

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