In The Blink of An Eye: The Lost Art of Trapping

clapslateI majored in filmmaking. Yes, that’s right, while the bulk of my friends were busy doing math or science or English courses, I was learning about cinematography and lighting and screenwriting and sound design and watching dozens of movies. (Actually, probably the two courses that taught me the most were the black-and-white darkroom photography class and the “class” where I was the prop manager for an on-stage rendition of “Kimberly Akimbo“, but I digress).

One of the 200-level courses was an editing course and its professor was a guy that most of us loved to poke fun at. The reason is because he was a very proud self-professed “dinosaur” who liked to go into long rambles on how kids these days would just rush into digital editing without ever once touching a real piece of celluloid, and how this was a horrible, terrible loss. Because of this, our big project for this class was to take a bunch of footage that was filmed long, long ago and turn it into a ten-minute long story. Oh and this was “real” film footage– no digital editing allowed.

This project was notorious throughout the school’s film program for the tears it induced; little sketches and cartoons depicting the hellishness of it all hung taped to various shelves in that dark, warm, sticky editing room filled with Moviolas and splicers. There was almost always someone in there working on a project, and everyone was filled with relief when the semester ended and the project was over and we could all safely move on to doing the rest of our school career’s projects on Final Cut Pro.

And so it may shock you to discover my reaction when I discovered not long after that, that my class would be the last ever to do that project– from then on out the school’s program was going completely 100% digital from the start, and no future students would have to do the one token “film editing” assignment.

I felt sad for them.

Because suddenly I realized that in a way, my professor had been right all along. There’s something about actually handling that film footage that teaches you something that is hard to explain. Those future kids wouldn’t get to experience literally being drowned in reels of loose film as you sat on a hard metal foldup chair in that tiny room, bent over your projector, trying your best to imagine your near-microscopic viewing screen was a wall in a theater. They would never get to experience having to think over all your editing choices and weigh them carefully with your instincts before making that splice, because if you later decided you wanted an extra two frames of footage you had to go tape your film back together– no “Undo” buttons here. Those future students would never get to experience all the literal sweat and elbow grease and wouldn’t get to view the joyous celebrations of a group of college kids who would sneak bottles of wine into that infamous room on the night before the project was due, refusing to uncork them until 2 or 3 in the morning when their cut was done and they could wind up your final film with pride, knowing they had just accomplished something very tangible. Because nobody did that in the clean, airy, and yet somehow very sterile computer rooms.

Yeah… my professor was right.

You’re asking why I’m telling this story, and you’re going to giggle at me when I tell you why, but oh well. I’m telling this story because everytime I think of chain trapping and how it seems to be such an un-needed and un-practiced skill these days, I think back to editing class and how once again I feel like one of the last of the old guard.

Some of my favorite memories in Burning Crusade where when I would go into a heroic with a tank that knew me and maybe a healer who knew me, and then two PuG DPS. The tank would mark up a pull– on a hard pull there would be the tank’s target and then there would be, for example, a sap, and a sheep, and then my beautiful blue square– the trap target.

I’d lay down my trap, the rogue would sap, the mage would sheep and then the pull would begin and I’d pull my mob into my trap and pewpew away at the skull. Then skull would be down and the rogue and the mage would run towards my trap… but oh wait, what’s this? The tank is headed at sheep, instead! So we’d all DPS sheep and I’d retrap my target and then the mage and the rogue would rush over to– oh wait, she trapped it again? And the tank, who knew me very well, would go right over to sap without blinking and we’d all DPS sap and then everyone would turn around right as I had finished calmly pulling my mob into yet another trap. At which point the tank would perhaps pause and /dance a bit before finally charging in.

Those moments were beautiful. And every time they happened I grinned to myself and knew I had pulled off a job well done. These days, things are easier and we don’t have a chance to pull that kind of thing off anymore. More than ever before, we are about the fabled Massive Quantities of Sustained Ranged DPS once spoken of by a wise man, and we have little room for anything else. Better? Easier? Your opinion. But as for Professor Pike, who has turned into her editing professor– I think that a hunter who has never trapped before is missing a little piece of knowledge and experience that they would find useful and fulfilling if they learned how, even in today’s world (of Warcraft).

Which is why my hunter kindergarten courses will always contain something on chain trapping, and why my sidebar still links to my Chain Trapping Tutorial Movie. Some of the specifics are different, but the basic gist of it is the same. And I still talk like a dork, so that hasn’t changed either. >.>

Remember: time and space are your friends. Lay your trap out early and use distance to your advantage, because that will buy you more time.

<3 (Oh, and in case you are curious, the title of this post, "In the Blink of an Eye", is the name of a book I read in that class, by master editor Walter Murch. I have long thought there was something very “huntery” about editing (or “editory” about WoW hunters), in that in my mind, both are sort of the unsung heroes of the finished product. Looking through that book recently, I’ve discovered there is actually a chapter called “Misdirection”. I rest my case. =P)

29 thoughts on “In The Blink of An Eye: The Lost Art of Trapping”

  1. If it helps, chain CCing is actually useful in Ulduar (25 more than 10). Freya’s trash is pretty much impossible without proper CC, and the Thorim encounter is made far easier for the tunnel group with effective CC. Chain trapping not so much (chain banishes yes please!), though it’s brought back a flood of memories being able to actually use things like Freezing Arrow.

  2. I have to agree with you on this one Pike, these young “look at me I can crank out 4k DPS in PvP gear” hunters nowadays are missing out on what was one of my favorite things about being a hunter. I miss not having to worry about my spot on the meters because I was too busy chain trapping and kiting. What I wouldn’t give for another General Drakkisath type encounter.

  3. Hey Pike, nice post! Since I only started playing WoW in December, I’m one of those ‘young Hunters’ though trapping does look like alot of fun. =P

    Btw, If you ever made a podcast I would listen to it just to hear your voice rofl XD

    Keep up the awesome work,

    Sevei 76 Hunter, Anachronos EU

  4. I won’t disagree with the usefulness of trapping, this is more a counter-point to your film assignment. 🙂

    When I worked in the Multimedia department of my University the Director of Photography who just retired this year had been working with film for a couple decades now. I remember he told me that once digital photography was viable he switched and never looked back.

    He was more than happy to get away from the dark room, away from the chemicals and make his work flow easier. He thought overlying concepts were much more important and teaching out-dated abilities like actual film development had it’s place for the simple sake of understanding it but forcing people to use just because was a waste of their time and his time.

    Good guy. 🙂

  5. Well they were talking for a while about new 5 mans along the lines of MgT, so maybe there’s hope yet for the CC classes. That was always one of my favorite things about my mage. I never had trouble getting into groups, because I came with the promise of a sheep (or pig, or more recently penguin), and being arcane gave the option of that instant sheep, too. I do miss using my sheep. The whole “bring they player, not the class” did 2 things. It gave hybrids more CC, and it gave dungeons less need for CC. Both make me kind of sad, but I still hold out hope for new 5 mans.

  6. Oh I still remember the one pull in H MgT where I chain trapped the same mob 6 times in a row with no damage taken. Oh man, those were the days…..

  7. I miss the days when I could Trap. I rarely, if ever run through an instance that needs to have any type of trapping at all. I love, love, LOVE to trap (and kite!) because it makes me feel useful and needed…so I am not just pewpew-ing.

  8. I can sympathise, inasmuch as modern tanking just doesn’t require what it used to. You can just mash a couple of moves and hold onto everything, pretty much. Back when I were a lad tanking took a keen eye – you had to know what you were doing, and in what order. You had to switch from target to target pretty regularly, stance dances weren’t uncommon, and you had to keep an eye on everyone’s buffs and health and whatever.

    Tanks these days… it’s not that it’s easy. It’s just that three months after an especially epic SM Cath run, the shammy who was healer for it still remembered me and complimented my tanking because it had been fairly awesome. The kids today, they’re less likely to get that.

  9. I couldn’t agree more and was recently thinking of how my trapping skills haven’t been in use in awhile. I don’t think I have seen a blue square over a target since WoTLK came out. I miss the excitement of wondering if the mob would break loose before my cooldown was up. I miss dpsing down the tank’s target and every so often firing that one distracting shot. I miss the thrill of letting the tank know it was ok to pull because my freezing trap cooldown was under 20 seconds.

  10. Oh oh, how glorious was trapping? I adored the blue square also… whenever I see it now in a raid, I’m like “IT’S MINE!!! MINE!!!”.

    As Zhire says, I felt it really stood us apart from other dps. It made me feel useful. There are rumours of CC coming back, or at least the blues are thinking about it. I will be so so happy to be chain trapping again.

  11. So right… I remember those days where the leader would fearfully ask “so… can you trap?” and I’d say “oh yes, just watch” and proceed to chain trap a mob 3, 4 or 5 times… glorious.

    But then, remember the days of chain sheeping? Or when a locks would be asked to use his succubus to seduce? hell, even rogues got asked to sap.

    The days of CC were fun, allowing for strategies and use of skills. It would be good to bring them back, but, I fear, we’d just see DKs breaking it all.

  12. Beautiful post, Pike, thanks so much for sharing with us. I agree totally, and loved your correlation to your old-school (pun intended) professor. My small guild and I often still practice CC of various sorts, if for no other reason than maybe one of us is just learning how to tank, or one of us hasn’t been on a mage in a long time. It’s still just as fun – and challenging – as it always was.


  13. I really miss sheeping on my mage. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had to sheep anything. I liked having a job other than just dpsing. Crowd control was a big part of a mages life. Now, my sheep are out to pasture:(

  14. I was lucky enough to be able to chain trap recently when we had an offspec healer who couldnt heal through all the AoE trash.

    I miss those days as it made me feel like a hero.

  15. Yes, yes, yes! I do so miss those days, on my hunter, for the trapping, and on my tanks when one had to plan the pulls and set them up taking the strengths and weaknesses of the group in to account… and yes, especially on my healer, when I am trying to heal a tank that is not quite ready for the tank ’em all and AOE them down mentality that is so the rage these days. I often got compliments on my trapping, and when I was grinding my CE rep on my druid, and running pugs in Steam Vaults, people always left happy because the run had gone so well due to my knowing how to set things up. And your real world analogy is spot on, I have had that sort of experience in two careers now, and learning the old “hands-on” way makes it so much easier to switch over to the digital way of doing things, because you understand the concepts so much better.

  16. I, too, remember when page layout meant sharp scissors, rulers (in metric, imperial, cicero and pica), bits of tape or paste, and typeset copy—while it was possible to have limitless tries to get the columns and the page design right, it was the pride of any type-setter/lay-out artist to get it right… and how experience in such “old school” methods guaranteed better results when, during the era of WYSIWYG computing, we were measured up with those whose first experience was Banner and Print Shop. When dealing with Pagemaker and WordPerfect then it was “Hey! I used to do this with scraps of paper! What convenience!” and the Print Shop young ‘uns would go “Gosh! This is so difficult! Give me back Print Shop!”

    I also miss the days when trapping and kiting abilities were seen as essential to being a good hunter. My only comfort is this: back in BC, there was a time when these skills were also forgotten… but only for a while. Those times will return; and when it does, I hope that I am ready. (^o^)

  17. Moroes encounter in Karazhan…
    Was there with a fairly lowgeared new group of guildies, one good tank and a healer raid leader that knew me well.
    It took for EVER for them to down three mobs, while I was chaintrapping the paladin back and forth behind them.
    On Ventrilo:
    “we take paladin now?”
    “Nah, let’s get Moroes down, Tanks seems more in trouble then Qas”
    Made me proud….

  18. I miss the blue square, I miss prot warriors they were always so appreciative of cc. Sometimes it seems like they’re trying to take all the finesse out of instances. Sadly I almost never do instances on my hunter any more, its just depressing, all instances are being run on my little holy pally which is a lot more fun than i would have thought. lvld her holy did instances pretty much the entire way and am closing in on 80 now. My hunter just runs around doing achievements and fishing these days, occasionally though I do go back and solo instances and trap mobs just for kicks and giggles.

  19. Ah chain trapping, a skill that separated the good hunters from the baddies in BC. My favorite memories where keeping the arms warrior (Daris I think his name was?) in the Moroes encounter trapped the entire fight. The most recent use of my chain trapping was our Vezax kill on Sunday. I picked up one of the warrior adds and just kept him trapped pretty much the entire time. The second pack…not so much. Picked one up and trapped it, I forgot about it, he defrosted and clocked me in the back of the head.

  20. Wow, this really made me think more about how I want to play my hunter. I’m leveling up my original hunter again because the main guild I raided with, decided to move to the server I had played before (Aman’thul – Oceanic) I made my main server Greymane-US. I played my hunter all day, and in times where I just wanted to read your blog I’d just sit there reading it, half the time getting pounded on by mobs, but what the hey. Hunter. <3

    Yet, this really made me think of this Hunter I had played with in H UK just yesterday as I was tanking on my main, (Florelline 80 Feral Druid on Greymane) and she trapped one mob, and wyvern stung another, and I felt really bad when during the first pulls or so, (before I got into the groove of which mobs she would trap & sleep) I would swipe or glyph’d maul the mob (So it hits two mobs, not just one.) and it would wake up or get untrapped. I’d apologize and they would just say, “No worries. It makes me feel useful either way.” Only one death the whole time, and that was from the warrior who kept bladestorming everything.

    So, I hold great respect now for hunters who chain CC like that, and would love if every hunter could do the skill, and would love to be one of those hunters now. 🙂

    – Trinia 49 NE Hunter Aman’Thul-Oceanic

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