Critical Role Intro: Storytelling through Short Form Animation

Early in December 2018, the web series Critical Role released and began incorporating a new animated sequence to introduce each episode. Critical Role is a live-played game of Dungeons and Dragons, featuring a cast of voice actors portraying various “player characters” and notable voice actor Matthew Mercer in the role of dungeon master, the primary writer and driving force behind the story of the series. This new intro features visual representation of the player characters, something that is not present within the game itself, and utilizes the freedom of animation to highlight the more imaginative aspects of each player character, something that was more lacking in previous live-action intros, and that here conveys a sense of story without any explicit visual references towards the overarching plot of the series.

That five months of work was put in towards creating a video that is only one minute and thirty-eight seconds long is a testament to the often-overlooked dichotomy between the time spent on any kind of art project and the quantifiable value of the result (or however a piece may be objectively valued). And the fluidity and the level of detail included in the animation, from the more literal detail in the artwork itself to the plethora of acknowledgements to story and player elements from the campaign, clearly stands out, even to someone not as familiar with the technical standards of animation nor the standards by which it is usually judged (like myself).

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