Saturday, November 8, 2008

WMO to 3D Software - A short tutorial

Well it's time for a short tutorial.

The reason I wrote this tut is simple. After many hours of searching on the web I didn't find any description how to transfer the so called wmo (world map objects) into a 3D software like Blender, 3DSmax or Cinema 4D. So there must be need for this ;)

First of all one important notice. I'm no expert on 3D programming and also no professional user of 3D software. Most of my skill on these things came from learning by doing. So don't blame me for this, the goal of this tut is to reach average skilled users like me. Further don't blame me for my English, I'm not an English native speaker ;)

But: you need some experience in using 3D software and you need basic knowledge about the file types Blizz used and the way to extract them.

There may be other (better) solutions, so don't hesitate to comment or give me information about other ways of importing. I'm very interested in every other way of dealing with it.

Some theory and description:

In WoW you have several data types for the 3D objects:

- m2: this format describes all the models (e.g. charakters, mobs, etc.) you find in WoW and some further models like catapults, small buildings, etc.
- wmo (world map objects): wmo are bigger 3D models, used for big buildings, cities, dungeons, etc.
- WDT/WDL/ADT: theses files describe the maps (height maps, position of wmo's on maps, water, etc.)
- BLP: the Blizz format for textures
- MPQ: This is a package where Blizz stores all the files needed to execute WoW. On a simple point of view you can compare it with a ZIP or RAR package.

For detailed information take a look at:    

There are some furthers data type used by WoW, but they are are not important for our tutorial, so I'll keep the focus on the above mentioned types.


Based  on the workflow to import wmo's you need several programs:

MyWarcraftStudio - This is freeware and you need the software to read the mpq packages and export the files we need

Unwrap 3D - This software converts the wmo format to a format your 3D software can read. In this case I used C4D and the wavefront-file-format (obj). This is no freeware, so you have to buy a license for Unwrap 3D.

TaylorMouse wmo to ms.-script converter: This software you need to find the paths and the names of the texture files in the mpq. There may be a better way to find out this information, but I actually didn't figure it out.

Any 3D software like Blender, C4D, 3Dsmax: In this tutorial I use C4D. Solutions in other software are not tested, but depending on the huge amount of export formats in Unwrap 3D you should find the file type you need.

So let's go:

First of all choos a model you like to import. You may want to use the WoW Model Viewer unless MyWarcraftStudio doesn't support 3D viewing for the newer Versions of WoW.

For this tutorial I chose the Altar of Storms (short: AoS) Model. This is a small model with few meshes so the workflow keeps small and useable for a tutorial. Depending on the kind of model you use, the number of steps to get finished grow up.

In the first step you have to localize the wmo of the AoS in the WoW mpq.

So open WarcraftStudio and load the common.mpq from your WoW-folder.
Inside the mpq the path to the wmo is: World/wmo/Azeroth/Buildings/

Here you find two files:

- AltarOfStorms.wmo
- AltarOfStorms_000.wmo

Export both of them to your local harddrive.
(Warcraftstudio exports the whole path structure with folders and creates the same folders you found inside the mpq on your harddrive.)

Once you've exported you can cut or copy the two mpq's to a folder of your choice. Just keep in mind, to use the same folder the wmo are in for saving the further files we need in the next steps of this tut.

Now it's time for TaylorMouse' tool.

Open the tool click on the first Button "Load WMO...." and navigate to the folder your wmo's are located.

Choose the AltarOfStorms.wmo and execute.

Now the tool creates a file named "" in the same folder. Open the file with a text editor.

On top you'll find this:


These are all the textures you need for the mesh. 

Now you have to find the textures inside the WoW mpq by using MyWarcraftStudio. 
Notice: Depending on what kind of model you use the textures could be in several mpq's. You have to search and locate them for yourself.

Once you've found the texture (file typ BLP) mark it by clicking and choose "Save Image" on the new window menu. Choose jpg, tga or png as file type (not BLP!).
Save the image in the same folder as the wmo's!

After exporting all the textures open Unwrap3D.
Be sure to have the wmo-plugin installed (not delivered with installation, but you can download it for free from the homepage).

Choose "Open Model" from the menu and locate the "AltarOfStorms_000.wmo".

Important: Depending on the wmo you use there will be 1-n additional wmo-files (e.g. like building_000.wmo, building_001.wmo, ..., building_00n.wmo). These files describe the different parts of the model and can be very complex.

Advice: If you want to use huge models like a whole city, take a look at every additional wmo to understand the structure and choose the parts you really need by importing them in Uwrap without textures. You can only see the meshes but I helps to understand how the building was made. Some of the wmo might be the meshes for the buildings inside. If you only need an outside view of the model you don't have to use all the wmo's. This keeps your workflow smooth and avoids useless work.

Ok, let's go on:

A new window poups up and there you find an "Texture Options" function. Choose the "AltarOfStorms.wmo". This is the basic file where the information about textures is saved.

Click import and: there it is :)

Dont' worry if you will not see any texture yet. If you want to see the textures in Unwrap you'll have to export all textures in BLP-format too or manually assign them to the materials Unwrap uses for the meshes. I won't explain how to do this, if there is need for these steps just leave a comment and I'll add this to the tut (or read the fuckin' manual ;) ).

Now it's time to export.

Choose "File Save As" and export the model in Wavefront (obj) format.

Start C4D and open the obj-file you just exported.

You'll see the untextured model now.

The last step is to assign the materials to the meshes. Here you can use the texture files (jpg, tga or png) you've already exported by using MyWarcraftStudio. C4D already has all materials in the mat-manager the only thing you have to do is, choosing the right file and assign it to the material by changing the texture per mat (the mat's names are the same like the texture file's name, so it will be easy to handle).

Once you've done this for all mats you have a full textured model in C4D.

That's it. 

The workflow is a bit complex but at the moment it's the only way I know to import wmo's in C4D. I've tested a few models and everything worked fine. But there is no guarantee that it works with every model. Just try for yourself.

The tut works fine with C4D, I've not tested any other 3D software. I'm interested in experiences with e.g. 3DSmax or blender. Both programs should also work with obj files. 
So if you tried this tut with any other software let me know about your experiences. Leave a comment.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned a bit about my way with dealing on wmo import for machinima in C4D.

If you have any questions, suggestions or criticism for improving the workflow: Let me know :)

// Varath
Blackhand Pictures Machinima

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Animating models in 3D Software

One of my goals for the Max Payne movie was to show some sets of new animations for WoW Models. I didn't want to be constrained by the original Blizz animations from the Modelviewer, I wanted to create new fresh looking animations for this movie. This is also some kind of experimental phase for VoC II, cause one of the great battles in this movie could be probably complete edited in a 3D animation software. This would open numerous new opportunities for e.g. camera angles and open a path to a new machinima experience.

So for the first time I started to play around with exporting and importing m2 files (the filetype Blizz uses for their models). At the moment I found no way to export the bones of the models (and of course the animations) too. So I had to play around with bones and things like this for myself. It took a couple of hours to understand the techniques but at least I found a smooth way to implement the bones and make first own animations.

Here you can see some of the results.

Max jumps sidewards with a gun ready to shoot held in front of his body:

Cleaner gets hit by the bullets in his left shoulder and turns around backwards.

Max Payne goes World of Warcraft

Max Payne and World of Warcraft? What the hell?

A few month ago I had the idea to make a short storyline machinima of my most favorite computer games, Max Payne and World of Warcraft. I always loved the dark film noir atmosphere of Max Payne and as an author who has experience in making WoW machinima the idea of mergin MP and WoW grew up in my head.
So the issue was how to convert Max Payne into World of Warcraft?
The answere was simple: Take the great story and voice acting of MP and fill it with pictures from World of Warcraft.
The second descision was if I should take MP 1 or MP2 as basic plot for the movie.
The answere was simple too: I personally prefer MP 2.

I started working on the machinima.

After finishing the first 10 minutes some friends of mine who never played MP didn't
really get in the story cause the didn't know the plotline/background of MP Part 1.
I needed a solution for this problem.

And what can I expect from the "prologue"?

Well according to the fact mentioned above I decided to make a short prologue to the movie.
This prologue should lead the audience who's not familiar with Max Payne into the storyline.
When I started the project I didn't really want to make a trailer or teaser trailer, but 
the idea of making a prologue lead me to the idea of combining the prologue with a trailer.

So what you see here is the result.
Another goal of this short machinima, of course, is to tease the audience about the final movie. 

It is not essential to watch the prologue before watching the whole movie, which will be
released this winter, but it helps to get into the story, particularly if you were not
familiar with to MP story.

Anynone who knew the story of MP will expect nothing new. I decided to stay close to the original plotline and spend more of my barely available time on the pictures and special effects.
For the first time I played around with 3D animation software and was really statisfied with the results.

I hope you enjoy this short introduction to my upcoming movie.

One important notice: This movie stands in no relationship to the upcoming motion picture of Max Payne in October 2008. 
The storylne is completly different from the motion picture. This is only a fan made project.


Blackhand Pictures Machinima 

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some promotion for our raid group

A couple of days ago on a boring weekend evening (my son was already in bed) I thougth about doing some promotion for our raid group on the EU Server "Der Rat von Dalaran".

Ok let's go. Within a night I cut a few scene's I shot during the raids with some landscape footage from Azeroth and Northrend.

I selected some good music from my archive and called Hethu, a friend who did already some great voice acting on Veil of Corruption.
Within one day he recorded the VA and the movie was finished.

The voice acting is in German language but I've added English subtitles.

Have fun with watching.

We need a blog...

Yes well.
It is time for a blog on "Blackhand Pictures Machinima". So here it is.

A short introduction about who we are and what we do.

We are a small group of machinima fans from Germany. We all play or played World of Warcraft and about one and a half year ago we were impressed by the upcoming talents on the WoW machinima scene. We decided to start machinimating for ourselfs. 
The first projects were small machinimas like PvP-movies or promotion movies for our raid.

In 2006 we wanted to do something bigger and more impressive than small videos. We decided to write a plot for full length storyline machinima. Veil of Corruption was born and in June 
2008 we published the movie. 

You can download or stream Veil of Corruption Chapter 1 here.

Right now we are working on the sequel to Veil of Corruption which was planned as a trilogy with a related storyline.

The team:
Several people are members of the BHP-team:

Varath: leader and video editing
Alloron: storyline and screenplay
Mahamari/Ludvera: assistance, storyline and voice acting
Khirutika: voice acting
Tehsaron: voice acting
Ineluki: voice acting
Blackeurope: storyline and World of Warcraft lore