Martin Klekner is our Lead Cinematic Designer here at Warhorse Studios. He joined the team after the Kickstarter Campaign back in 2014 and enriches the team with his excellent visual sense. He was born in Liberec in the north of the Czech Republic, but now he is here in Prague of course.
Do you want to know more about Martin Klekner and his job as a lead Cinematic Designer? Don´t hesitate and ask here!
You can find a Spanish translation of this interview here.
1) How did you hear about Warhorse?
I am one of the many people who first heard about Warhorse through their Kickstarter campaign. It’s funny, because I never actually thought that I could become part of the WH team. However, by total accident, I got invited in. Back in 2014 I was working on a student project called Chronicles: Prague - basically an iPhone app, tourist guide and video biography of Charles IV.'s life, all in one - and for this app me and my friends built a pretty substantial 3D model of the 14th century Prague. I wanted to lend a helping hand to Warhorse’s project so I sent an email to Dan Vávra, offering him this model. It turned out completely different than I expected. Several weeks later, Dan sent me a message, in which he told me that he saw Chronicles and he wanted me to join the project. I was to be helping to create the game’s future cinematics. To be honest, I have always been more of a freelance guy, but this was an offer I simply could not refuse. I’m glad I didn’t… and I’m really grateful for the opportunity Dan gave me.
2) Describe your position. What is it about being a Cinematic Lead?
Well, it’s pretty much about trying to persuade the rest of the team that our open-world RPG needs good looking cutscenes as well But really, what I love about this job, is that it’s many things in one. One day I find myself drawing storyboards for Dan’s story, other times I’m directing actors on motion capture, even fooling around in mocap suit myself, the rest of the time it’s about working with a talented team of cinematic guys and animators, editing cutscenes in MotionBuilder and CryEngine and trying to achieve the best results possible in our limited conditions. It’s an adventure, often strenuous, but I guess that’s what I love about it.
3) Have you ever worked on Videogames before?
All of us in the cinematic department - Petr Pekař, Tomáš Kraus, Jiří Švarc and me - have come from the film and vfx industry. Everybody - except Petr - never worked on a game before (Petr worked on Mafia 3)… After three years of doing this, I must say, games are probably the most difficult projects to work on - there’s so many elements that must come together for the game to work, so many different departments, and all of it is constantly buggy and crashing. You may finish some task on Friday and find it completely ruined on Monday, without apparent reason (I don’t actually laugh when this happens). But we’re doing our best, learning on the run, solving one problem at a time. I believe it will pay off in the end
4) Please describe Warhorse Studios:
It’s an adventure, simple as that. Sometimes we hate each other, sometimes we despair, sometimes we feel immense pride in what we were able to achieve. It’s a process of trial and error, so it really can’t be any different. What makes it different from any other studio project I’ve worked on, is the enthusiasm.
5) What is your favorite team activity?
Our (more or less) weekly screenings of cutscenes, where we debate what can be improved. Especially when accompanied by a bottle of beer Also, lighting and fine tuning cutscenes with our Art Director Mikuláš Podprocký. Miki has a great eye for detail, one can learn from him a lot. The fine-tuning phase is when all our work finally comes together - and it’s always a great feeling.
Also, the mocap recording with our team of actors. I think I will never forget this experience
6) Describe your usual day at the studio?
A hot cup of coffee. That’s where it always starts Otherwise, it varies. A year ago, the process was completely different from now (we were mocaping the cutscens), two years ago as well (that was when I drew the storyboards) . After that, we edited the rough cuts of the cutscenes, putting the mocap data together, adding cameras and cuts.
These days we are in the finishing phase of cutscene production. Which means, first thing in the morning, I start downloading the latest data build of the game and in the meantime, I solve some bugs reported by our testers. Then, I start working on my cutscenes, same as the rest of the cinematic team. We polish the camera moves, the lighting, the environment, add particles etc. etc. Anything to make the cutscene look nice, while not lowering the FPS too much.
7) What do you think is the most important part of the game?
There’s this atmosphere of believability about the whole thing. For example, I remember the first time I walked into Talmberg village. It was at night - and suddenly, this huge black shape appeared in front of me. It was the Talmberg castle. And for some reason, it made a greater impression on me than any other castle from any other game. It was not the biggest, not the most awesome looking castle I’ve seen in a game, no. But since it was set in this realistic, down-to-earth environment, it stood out. And I realized: wow, this is how it must have felt to see a real castle in the Middle Ages.
I get the same feeling from all the elements in the game, from the story, the combat system or just from strolling around through the environment.
8) As a lead cinematic designer you can surely tell us more about the Global announcement Trailer?
Well apart from the fact that we had a crazy deadline and generally it was one big chaos, trying to make the best possible result without a final edit of the video up until the last moments… it was fun! Required a few sleepless nights spent in the studio, but it was worth-it. A great team effort. And a lot of people seem to like the trailer, which is awesome
9) You were involved in the recent change of Henrys hair-style, can you tell us more about that?
Well, I’m not really sure about the importance of my role in this change, in the end, it was a joint decision of Dan Vávra, Mikuláš Podprocký and Ivan Čerevko (our character artist working on the characters’ haircuts). But I did make some comments about Henry looking a bit too metrosexual for a son of a blacksmith. And I probably mentioned this to Dan, Miki and Ivan… I think the new haircut is much more fitting, which means it helps to tell the story of the game… And that’s the most important thing for the cutscene department.
10) with what game did you first get acquainted with videogames?
Prehistorik! I loved that little fella
11) What was your most touching video game moment?
Oh, there’s so many. I think the time around 2003/2004 was when, for me personally, the most influential games were released. Max Payne 2, Half-Life 2, Far Cry, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time… I realized then, that games are capable of telling a gripping story. The next wave of games I loved came around 2010: Witcher 2, Mass Effect. I am also happiest when I win a battle in Total War games - oh, I love their games.
If I had to pick, though… probably the ending of Max Payne 2.
12) Are there any videogames you repeat playing over and over again?
Total War games. I’ve also played Mass Effect series, Dragon Age 1, Max Payne 1,2,3, Witcher 2 and Half-Life 2 several times.
13) Most hilarious bug you have ever encountered or worst video game experience?
New and exciting bugs are created every single day in our game! There’s a lot of hilarious stuff. I remember a bug from recent days, that made me laugh: “Sir Robard appears to be holding a chair in his hand and flying around the map with it.” You wouldn’t come up with these ideas the game produces even if you tried. Of course, we in the cinematic department, encounter our fair share of strange stuff.
14) How do you relax after a hard day at work?
Reading a good book, swing dancing or brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring. Especially the last one. There’s something about being choked by your sparring partner that makes you forget about KCD… at least for a while
15) Your favorite movie or book?
The Lord of the Rings. Yes, movie and book.
16) What’s your guilty pleasure?
The movie 300. It is atrocious… but awesome at the same time.
17) What was your favorite subject and your most hated one at school?
Now when I think about it, I probably loved history lessons the most. I love great stories. And history is full of great stories.
Most hated? That’s easy - Math, Physics, Chemistry. I can’t really say which I hated the most
18) If you could say something to the fans of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, what would it be?
Thank you for your patience and your faith in our project. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are interested in an RPG situated in 15th century Bohemia, a relatively unknown part of history. I think this is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to make a game like this and we all do our best to make you happy in the end
If you still have questions for our lead Cinematic designer Martin Klekner, just ask here!