It’s not hard to imagine a world in which customized game tools become simple 3D environments for producing truly original visuals — work that looks unrelated to the game engines that power it. The fact that 3D engines are designed for real-time operation makes them even more appealing for live visuals and VJ work. Artists like Julian Oliver have produced whole music and visual performance pieces, as we’ve seen on Create Digital Music.

So, could the fact South Park did an episode this season with World of Warcraft mean full productions are close at hand? Absolutely, and thanks to the good folks of, we’ve learned all you’ll need is:

  1. The production, animation, and technology team of South Park
  2. Maya
  3. Access to original 3D models from Maya from a company like Blizzard
  4. 12 PCs and one MacPro
  5. Folding tables (no details on what kind here … you may need a nearby IKEA)
  6. A budget (admittedly bare-bones) from Comedy Central — this part you can probably muster
  7. 28 members of the staff at Blizzard to help you out
  8. Lots of time

Be sure to read the whole interview; it’s fantastic. Ultimately, to get more expression out of the characters without programming, Maya filled in for the character shots. In the true ghetto-fabulous tradition of South Park, though, the team used my favorite Mac video capture tool, Ambrosia’s inexpensive Snapz Pro, to grab in-game footage from the actual World of Warcraft. (And if you haven’t seen the episode, by all means, please do!)

“Make Love, Not Warcraft” [Behind-the-scenes interview on]

Okay, granted, not the most practical approach here. I still think game engines could make for interesting custom visuals, though, and the fact that some of the footage really did come from the game should raise a few eyebrows. Now go hack those textures so it’s not recognizable, and send the results.

[tags]television, machinima, 3D, behind-the-scenes, oddities[/tags]