Spoiler Warning: Note there are spoilers for God of War Ragnarök in this video.
Join narrative director Matt Sophos, cinematics producer Estelle Tigani, animation director Bruno Velazquez, and lead narrative animator Erica Pinto from the Santa Monica Studio team as they give a behind-the-scenes look at God of War Ragnarök. The team discusses their roles, as well as break down one of the cinematics from the realm of Helheim to showcase how a video game cinematic is built.
God of War Ragnarök is available now on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.
Foreign Friends should you prefer to remain Unburdened by foreknowledge of the Thrilling Adventures of Kratos atreus And yours truly then turn back now Spoilers for Ragnarok lie ahead A big part of the inspiration for this Scene at least the emotional through Line of the scene is it Taps into some Of the fears that we have as parents Foreign You must prepare yourself For why he's still eating he wants to Live He is dying I'm Matt sofas I'm the narrative Director on God of War Ragnarok hi my Name is Estelle tigani and I'm a Cinematics producer on God of War Ragnarok my name is Ronald Velasquez I Am the animation director on God of War Ragnarok hi my name is Erica pinto and I'm the lead narrative animator on God Of War Ragnarok it's my job to work with A cross-disciplinary group of really Talented people to set the course try to Keep it on track and then get out of the Way to let people be great at their jobs The the pipeline for a cinematic starts With the script phase the writers on the Narrative team will collaborate together And complete the script for a cinematic And it will get reviewed by our game Director Eric Williams before getting
Passed over to the cinematics team my Job on cinematics team is to help guide The cinematics through the pipeline Track tasks make sure everything is on Schedule and on time I work very closely With many departments including our Visual arts service group and our Cinematic Arts group and we work closely With them to develop the staging the Previous of our cinematics and we go to The mocap shoots my role in God of War Ragnarok was to oversee all the Animation Direction across the entirety Of the game it was definitely a big Challenge because this is one of the Most ambitious games that we've ever Done at the studio for sure foreign Today we're going to be taking a look at One of the cinematics in our game one That we called fenrir returns Kratos and Atres have traveled to helheim to fix a Mistake that atreus made while working For Odin he ended up freeing garm The Hound of hell it led to a massive fight And they ended up having to put garm Down But they didn't do it in the Conventional way that you'd expect from God of War they didn't just kill Garn Atreus ended up using a soul that was Trapped in his knife please work please Work I'm sorry We opted not to go with storyboards most
Of the time the reason why is we have a No-cut camera storyboards are really Good at showing between each cut close Far away but the hard work is mostly in How that no cut camera is going to move Around the scene so instead we opt for Scene Bible or our pre-visualization Phase on the last project we discovered That previz was easiest to do when we Were all together able to shoot live Action reference or get in a mocap suits And shoot on stage during kovid we were All stuck at home what we ended up doing Was going back to more traditional Previews where we would work directly in Maya it took a lot more iteration and Experimentation to make sure we got the Timing where we thought it would be Realistic when we got to the stage One of the big moments in the scene is To see what happens to garm and we Encounter him inside this cave and the Way that it's being set up the lighting The mood the way that the camera is kind Of creeping behind atreus as he's Creeping up on fenria is meant to Communicate this sense of uneasiness and Uncertainty about how this is going to Go you're okay azatreus approaches the Cave he's really hoping that the soul That angerboda told him was in his knife Was Fenrirs he didn't know for sure sorry I Heard you
It's over now Promise So the biggest challenge for this scene Was to really get the sense of that Change of personality so at first you Just finished this giant battle against Garm and you're not quite sure if it's Still a threat this is why we chose to Place them in that cave you know make it A little bit of like oh is he gonna leap Out is it gonna is it gonna attack us Again and of course you know atreya's Kind of recognizing him and kind of Knowing his own pet he's the one that Kind of figures it out first Slowly you see that transformation that Transition into fan rear Are you Some of the aspects we really wanted to Get right with the scene was selling That tension leading into kind of this Relief and joy seeing that atreus's Gamble paid off Boy So to bring fenrir to life there was a Lot of research that went into it Starting all the way back in 2018 we Paid a visit to the wolf connection Which is a place where you can interact Directly with actual wolves we got a lot Of footage of this and also learned a Lot about actual wolf Behavior how it Differs from dogs for instance when you Approach a wolf you're actually supposed
To bring your hands underneath the Wolf's head Because vanware was more like a pet we Ended up not actually doing the Underhanded approach yeah I missed you too Didn't know if that would work Where atreus can tell that it's fenrir When he comes out of the cave this is The stretch of the scene where Kratos is Realizing it himself We did it working with the actors on Stage obviously we didn't have a giant 20-foot wolf so what we had to do is we Had to have the actors interact with a Puppet in this case we actually had two Puppeteers we had someone holding a Giant pad on a pole to represent kind of The scale of the dog that the actors Could go up and work with but for the Camera view we had this little virtual Prop that could show on the screen the Giant wolf and then we would tilt it and Then the camera operator could see where Is the giant wolf my favorite bit of This part of the scene is of course Kratos just simply saying sit and then It immediately sits down with no Hesitation even the camera is getting Into the action you hear the audio of The big Kaboom like a little earthquake The camera and the staging was able to Really capture them as a family unit Tilting upwards to show such a large
Creature but also keeping that focus on These two characters that are having a Very intimate conversation between Kratos and Petraeus I think this is a Really important moment because you've Got that dog in the background that's Kind of offsetting this more serious Conversation if you look you'll see that Fenu is just kind of like ping-ponging Between them which animals do leading up To this moment Kratos and a trace have Had a lot of tension where Kratos is Trying to kind of hold on to a trays and Atreus needs to break away and form his Own identity How is this possible It's giant magic for fenrir we actually Mostly did hand heat which means our Animators would pose the wolf and move Him around all themselves some other Research we did we ended up shooting Reference footage with dogs and you'll See you know when the wolf comes and Kind of crawls towards Kratos and atreus Just trying to nail that body mechanics And what we end up doing because of the Different camera angles and the size of The wolf that we were going to represent In game what we did is we ended up Shooting from the camera perspective and The closeness that we needed to recreate In our scene which presented itself as Amazing reference for our animators for Me the most exciting part was once we
Got the wolf data in and we started to Hand key fenrir a little bit more and You start to see his personality come Forward and come to life to me that was A true joy we also really wanted to lean In finding natural behaviors that dogs And wolves do when he yawns and shakes Himself just really feeling all the fur And we want to sell that this is you Know something that's alive and not just A bunch of polygons on the screen I Think the most exciting thing about Bringing this scene to life was just Watching it go from this very Rudimentary scene of just two guys Sliding around in a horribly animated Puppet wolf to something that feels Believable and you're just like oh and We're such a good boy and he gets all The pets I've been learning things In Asgard This has nothing to do with that more Secrets no Promise Doing that someone's trusting me to keep Like you kept your promise to Mom from a Narrative perspective what we wanted to Achieve with this scene is to Demonstrate the developing relationship Between Kratos and atreus and their Building of trust towards each other Atreus is growing up and learning to Become independent and make amends when
He makes mistakes it's this wonderful Little moment where Kratos realizes Maybe that he doesn't have to worry so Much anymore See what I can do when you trust me Thank you for joining us as we broke Down Fender returns one of many many Cinematics in God of War Ragnarok and Big thanks to everyone there are Hundreds of people who come together to Make one of these possible