How to: Create Cinematics

Tutorial By PurgeandFire


Table of Contents:

Black Cinematic Borders
The Atmosphere and Terrain
Applying Cameras
Sounds and Music
Lag from Leaks
Running Triggers
Ending a Cinematic
Giving Credits
Index of Cinematic Functions


"What are cinematics?"

Cinematics are films presented as motion pictures. They are like cutscenes or movies, but they are usually a bit different when it comes to Warcraft cinematics. Cinematics are possible to create in Warcraft III just by using the editor and I will tell you how to do this below.



Cinematics do not start by them selves; they require certain initialization functions so that they may start. Common cinematic basic functions consist of setting the music, atmosphere, the cinematic mode, and other preferences that may help your cinematic. Some key ones would be:

Cinematic Initialization Events Map initialization --This starts it as map initialization, use this only when your map is a cinematic itself-- Conditions Actions Cinematic - Turn cinematic mode On for (All players) --This turns on the cinematic mode for all of the players-- Cinematic - Turn on letterbox mode (hide interface) for (All players): fade out over 2.00 seconds --This turns on the letterbox mode for All of the players, it isn't too necessary though-- Cinematic - Turn subtitle display override On --*Optional*: This forces the player to have subtitles on-- Cinematic - Disable user control for (All players) -- Disables the user control for all of the players so they can't move or control anything-- Cinematic - Clear the screen of text messages for (All players) --*Optional*: Makes all of the messages disappear from the screen-- Cinematic - Fade out over 0.00 seconds using texture Black Mask and color (0.00%, 0.00%, 0.00%) with 0.00% transparency --*Optional*: This fades out with a black mask which is suggested and used by many cinematic makers-- Sound - Clear the music list -- Clears the music list -- Sound - Stop music Immediately -- Stops the music that plays for the race immediately-- Sound - Set Ambient Sounds to 0.00% Custom script: call StopSound(bj_nightAmbientSound, true, true) Custom script: call StopSound(bj_dayAmbientSound, true, true) --*Optional*: Sets the volume of those ambient sounds (eg Bird chirps, owl hoots) to 0% so they don't play-- Environment - Set sky to Lordaeron Summer Sky --*Optional*: Sets the sky so that it appears, you may choose the sky type you want though--


These are used many times in many famous cinematics and in cinematics themselves.

Black Cinematic Borders:

If you have watched some famous cinematics such as Creatures of the Knight, Cult of the Damned, and The Spirit of Vengeance, you'll realize that they have black borders that are used at least once. The borders make your cinematic look much better and look as if they are an actual cinematic. To do this, go to Advanced | Game Interface

Then click Use Custom Game Interface.

Scroll down and wait until you see at least one of these:

• Image - Cinematic Border
• Image - Console Background
• Image - Game Menu Background

Click on each value, click "Use Custom Path", then type out or copy 'n' paste this text:

If you don't want a black cinematic border, but instead something else such as the border used in "Shipwrecked 1 Revamped - by Med. Map Maker" (Or number 2, I forgot) you can replace only one of them with it. You can keep messing around with those three to see the effects and choose the one you like.


The Atmosphere and Terrain:

You will not believe how important this is. Setting the atmosphere and having good terrain combined can seriously wow people. If you have ever watched "Cinematic Tri-X", you'll realize that it is all about terrain and nothing else. "The Curse of Feanor" also spends most of its time focused on the terrain, which isn't entirely good though.


Setting the atmosphere is not very hard. Make sure that it is the right atmosphere though. There are practically four main concepts of the atmosphere:

• Fog
• Sky
• Lighting
• Weather & Time


Fog is a great way to set the atmosphere. If you want to pre-define the fog, go to Scenario | Map Options

Then click "Use Terrain Fog". I suggest using linear as a type.

You may mess around with the two fog fields, though do not make them get too close together in values. If you let them get too close, it will most likely make one area light and another black. If you want to make the fog thick at the end, map makers usually modify it to be something like:
Z Start - 0.00
Z End - 3000.00

The "Z Start" is practically how thick the fog is at the far point of view. If you make it really big, the fog at the far points of your view will be real light. If you make it real small, then it will most likely be real dark and thick at the far points of view.

The "Z End" is a little different though. It measures the thickness of the fog towards the nearest points. If you have the fog real high, it will be light near your nearest points, though it will be dark if you set it to a small value.

The mixture of these combined can make real nice fog, so try to set them to the right values.

The "Density" does not create too much of an effect unless you use a really high value. It is practically how dense the fog is.

The color is also available for use. You may set it to the color you want depending on how the terrain and atmosphere will be or what you want it to be. If it is night in a spooky forest, you might want to use black or a real dark version of green. If you want something light or sunny, you may want to use white or yellow.

Here is an example of the fog I made with some added doodads:


Sky is also pretty important. If you don't use the right sky, it will look ugly. If you don't even use sky, you're atmosphere will look weird, unless the cinematic is in a building or something like that.

It is pretty self explanatory:
- Light and sunny skies - Lordaeron Summer sky
- Dark Medieval Forests - Felwood Sky

It is not too hard to choose. Don't forget to set the sky in your initialization trigger, or else it most likely won't show.



Lighting is also important. If it is at night or something, you don't want it to be all sunny and bright. Fog can practically set up the lighting and make it look real nice.

Though there is a way to create lights without using fog, you use this tool by ghEEd.

The tool consists of two different types of light:

• Ominlights
• Ambient Lights

Omnilights - Omnilights are used in a small area or a certain area. These lights change the lighting in that area. Omnilights can be attached to units to make the unit brighter so that if the fog is dark, you can use an omnilight to make the unit have a glow that makes it stand out of the fog. Some lights such as torches use omnilights.


Ambient Lights - Ambient lights, unlike omnilights, cover up a huge area which is the whole map. It can be made so that the whole map has a certain lighting effect.

Weather & Time:

Weather is the condition of the atmosphere. If you wanted the atmosphere to be sunny, add sun rays. Time also matters. Time can tell when to have certain weather and when not to have it or have another type of weather. If it is dark, you do not want sun rays, but maybe moon rays. To make a map covered with weather, you can either create a region or you can just add the weather by going to Scenario | Map Options then by clicking "Use Global Weather".


You can set the weather then click "ok" and it should appear unless you have weather turned off. Weather can also be changed by using this, but you need to create a region first:
Environment - Create at (<Region>) the weather effect <Weather Effect>



Terrain is also very important. Make sure that the terrain is correct and nice looking. There are a few concepts of terrain:

• Models
• Variation
• Sizes
• Terrain Height


When using models such as doodads and props, make sure you use the correct type. You do not want a forest in a house or cattails in a barren land without any water.

You also might want to use custom models and skins. Using them can really wow the viewers. If you have your cinematic taking place in a forest area, you should use environmental models. If you have your cinematic taking place in a house or building, use indoor models and things like that.



Variation is pretty important to terrain. Do not use the same type of doodads over and over again unless it is supposed to be that way. Change the variations. Don't use tons of flowers in an area; add some variation such as shrubs or rocks or even bushes.

Terrain tiles also need variation. Sometimes, cinematics have boring terrain with just simple grass or something. You need variation; so add some other tiles to make it look much better. Do not overload the variation though, or else it will look unnatural, so keep a limit on how much too put and on how less to put.



Make sure that your doodads are not the same size. Set the maximum and minimum scales to different scales so that it looks more natural. There is not much more to explain in this subject.


Terrain Height:

Make sure your terrain is not flat. Flat terrain is only acceptable in certain areas such as buildings or houses, but it should still be at least a little raised. You can raise and lower the terrain with the terrain palette, but make sure that you do not use the noise tool too much or else it will make your terrain look bumpy and really unnatural.

Example Product Using All Concepts:

Sunken Paradise


Cameras are extremely important to cinematics. To create a camera, open the camera palette then click "Create Camera". If you do that, it should say something like "Camera 001". If you right-click it then click "Rename Camera", you can modify it to fit your needs. I will tell you what each field means below:

Camera Name:

Simply the name of the camera, try to make it relevant to what it is doing such as "Park Bench Camera 1".


Target X and Target Y:

These are the target location's x and y points. Modifying it can slightly move your camera, but if you set it to a high value, it can move your camera quite far.

Z Offset:

This measures the Z offset of the camera. If you set it to a positive number, the camera target point will rise up. If you set it to something big, it will feel like you are off the ground because the camera target is high upwards.

Z Offset:



This determines the rotation of the camera, it is like the facing. If you set it to 90.00 degrees, the camera will turn and face 90.00 degrees.


Angle of Attack (AoA):

This determines how much the camera is off of the ground, though it is not like the Z offset. The Z offset sets the target point to rise/lower. If you change the AoA, it will change the angle of the camera going up and down.


This determines the distance from the camera and the target point. Not much to explain here.


This determines the tilt of your camera. If you change it, your camera will tilt sideways in an angle and change the view. If you have ever seen some of the Rulerofiron99's cinematics, you'll know what I'm talking about.


Field of View:

The width the camera can see.

Far Clipping:

The total distance a camera can see. Make sure that you do not set it to a too high value, or else it may cause lag because it can see too many objects from its view. (eg: Doodads, Destructibles, etc.)

Applying Cameras:

You can apply cameras with simple triggers:
Camera - Apply <Camera> for Player 1 (Red) over 0.00 seconds

This will apply the camera for the player and will take X seconds to apply. Before you apply another camera, you should wait then apply it:
Camera - Apply Camera 1 for Player 1 (Red) over 3.00 seconds Wait 2.00 seconds Camera - Apply Camera 2 for Player 1 (Red) over 2.00 seconds

The reason why I only waited 2.00 seconds was because if I set it to 3.00, the camera will stop then apply. I want it to be much smoother.

For more about cameras, click here


Sounds and Music:

Sounds and music are very essential to the cinematic. Music plays a big role in the cinematic. If you have ever seen "Requiem for a Dream" by Ghenjis, you'll know what I'm talking about. Songs like Requiem for a Dream can really set the mood of the cinematic. Remember that Google can sometimes be your friend, so Google up something like "Battle Music" and it should give you some good music to put in your map.

Sounds can be manipulated easily and are very important. Voices can be used in transmissions to make it so that the voices appear when someone talks. Make sure that the voices are good and clear, otherwise you can request a good voice actor or seek expert help from some expert voice actors (*cough* SamuraiPanda *cough*)

When using a sound, there is a certain process to go to. Open up the "Sound Editor" then find your sound. Right-click it and click "Use as Sound", or if you want it as music, click "Use as Music."

If you clicked "Use as Sound", double-click your sound in the white area and deselect the box where it says "3D Sound". If you don't do this, it most likely won't work.


Lag from Leaks:

When triggering a cinematic, you can get lag from leaks. Special effects are common leaks that create lag. Remember that you must destroy them or else they will definitely leak. If you do not know how to remove leaks, search "Memory Leaks" in the tutorial index or click here.


Transmissions are used to make units talk and speak, though they do not actually speak unless they use a sound. They actually create subtitles at the bottom of your screen. To set up a transmission, click "Actions" then go to the Cinematics category and click "Transmission From Unit" from the selection bar.

The text should display:
Send transmission to (All Players) from Unit named Name: Play No Sound and display Message. Modify Duration: Add 0.00 seconds and Wait

(All Players) - Determines who it is sending the transmission to
(Unit) - Determines which unit is talking
(Name) - The name of the unit (It can be anything)
No Sound - Determines which sound to play
Message - Determines the string of what the unit is saying
Add - Either adds or subtracts or sets the transmission to the seconds
0.00 - Determines the transmission seconds
Wait - Wait makes it so that any triggers after the transmission must wait the transmission length

Running Triggers:

You should not cram all of your cinematic in one trigger, it can seriously cause lag in your WE and it will be almost impossible to edit quickly unless you have a fast computer or if the cinematic is small.

To pass through this problem, you need to run different triggers. Create two different triggers:
Trigger 1 Events Conditions Actions //Actions// Trigger - Run Trigger 2
Trigger 2 Events Conditions Actions //Actions//

This will make it so that the trigger 1 will jump to trigger 2 after it completes its actions.

Ending a Cinematic:

When ending a cinematic in a game that is not a cinematic, you simply do this:
Actions Cinematic - Turn cinematic mode Off for (All players) Cinematic - Enable user control for (All players) Cinematic - Turn off letterbox mode (show interface) for (All players): fade in over 2.00 seconds Camera - Reset camera for Player 1 (Red) to standard game-view over 0.00 seconds
This reverses the effect of what we did when we started the cinematic.

Escaping a Cinematic:

Have you wondered how people make it so that you can stop a cinematic by pressing 'ESC'?
Well, it is very simple; just do this:
Escape Trigger Events Player - Player 1 (Red) skips a cinematic sequence Conditions Actions Game - Victory Player 1 (Red) (Show dialogs, Show scores)
NOTE: If you're cinematic isn't a cinematic itself, then remove the victory and just add the reversing effect triggers mentioned above.

Giving Credits:

Don't forget to give credits to who helped/gave resources to your cinematics! A great efficient way to do this is to fade in and have the text come from the bottom to the top making it look like actual movie credits.
To do this, do something like this:
Cinematic - Fade in over 1.00 seconds using texture Black Mask and color (0.00%, 0.00%, 0.00%) with 0.00% transparency Floating Text - Create floating text that reads Credits at (Center of <region>) <gen>) with Z offset 0.00, using font size 40.00, color (100.00%, 100.00%, 100.00%), and 0.00% transparency Floating Text - Set the velocity of (Last created floating text) to 64.00 towards 90.00 degrees Wait 2.00 seconds
This will make it so that the text goes upwards from the region. Make sure that you also apply the camera that is near/on/above the region so that the text appears.

Index of Cinematic Functions:

Transmission From Unit - Displays the transmission that appears as text towards the bottom of the screen

Transmission From Unit-Type - Gets a transmission from not just one unit, but from a whole unit-type

Subtitle Display Override - Overrides the player so that it forces the subtitles to be on

Cinematic Mode - Turns the cinematic mode on

Cinematic Mode Timed - Turns the cinematic mode on over X seconds

Fade Filter - A regular filter function that allows you to change the mask of the game displayed

Advanced Fade Filter - An advanced filter function that allows you to choose more options than what the regular fade filter function can

Show/Hide Filter - Shows/Hides the filter

Ping Minimap - Pings the minimap in an area for players for X seconds

Ping Minimap With Color - Pings the minimap except allows you to set the color tinting of the ping

Flash Speech Indicator For Unit - Creates a small circle that flashes symbolizing that the unit is talking

Flash Speech Indicator For Destructible - Flashes the circle on a destructible

Flash Speech Indicator For Item - Flashes the circle on an item

Clear Screen of Text Messages - Clears the screen of all messages from players

Letterbox Mode On - Turns on the letterbox mode

Letterbox Mode Off - Turns off the letterbox mode

Disable User Control - Disables the control of a force

Enable User Control - Enables the user control of a force

Enable/Disable Occlusion - Makes it so that when it is enabled, trees that block units are transparent

Enable/Disable Boundary Tinting - Enables or disables the boundary tinting

Play Movie - Plays a movie from the Warcraft III movies folder (takes string)

That is basically all you need to know about creating cinematics. Keep the spirit alive and create your own cinematics!

I hope this helps!


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