Creative production company We Are Royale (WAR) recently partnered with Riot Games to create the above cinematic title, titled “Hounds of Iron,” which tells the backstory of Naafiri, the latest playable champion in its multiplayer online battle arena game League of Legends.
“Riot was very open to our point of view and approach to the creation of this introduction spot, which is something they do every time a new playable character is added to the game. Their brief was absolutely bursting with references and intriguing ideas,” said Loren Judah, executive creative director, We Are Royale, in a statement. “At WAR, we focused on honing a narrative approach that would bring everything together cohesively.”
Naafiri’s ability to inhabit multiple mortal bodies forms the crux of the two-minute animation, which showcases the champion’s origin story and transformation.
“The story explores the physical and metaphysical transformation of Naafiri,” said Judah. “In League lore, she was a Darkin assassin who became entombed in a dagger. Eons later, she is discovered in the Shuriman desert by a lone explorer. This sets off a series of events that will ultimately lead to her inhabiting not one single entity but an entire pack of Dune Hounds. We take the audience through that abstract idea of the mind splitting to control the many and revealing the character’s final form back at the spot that started it all.”
WAR used several animation techniques including 3D, cel, 2.5D, and even machine learning to give each stage of her transformation a unique visual style.
“Our animation team brought different skill sets and styles to the Naafiri project,” said Judah. “This all results in a very painterly, brush-stroked and detailed style. That unique visual approach was applied to the whole spot, where essentially we start with a base 3D model and then we animate over the top of that.”
The spot received more than 1.7 million views in its first 24 hours on YouTube.
Client: Riot Games
Design & Production Company: We Are Royale
Chief Creative Officer, Partner: Brien Holman
Chief Executive Officer, Partner: Jennifer Lucero
Executive Creative Director: Loren Judah
Animation Supervisor: Pat Clarke
CG Supervisor: Matt Guzzardo
Art Director: Ben Hurand
Managing Director: Beck Henderer-Peña
Executive Producer: Rhys Demery
Director of Business Development: Heidi Netzley
Head of Production: Asheley Hu Roe
Senior Producer: Lisa Laubhan
Illustration and Design: Ridell Apellanes, Mariia Menshikova, Brandon Smith, Elleyce Pahang, Dylan Casano, Nikita Kibirev
Conceptual Designer: Josh Childers
Conceptual Designer: Ryan Brant
Animation/Compositing: Jared Norby, Dylan Casano, Nikita Kibirev, Charlie Proctor, Foram Jani, Pat Clarke, Loren Judah, Alex Maxwell
Editor: Isaac Ruth
Production Coordinator: Bernard Ellouk