Ego Central to Machinima Filmmaker Ken Thain

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Movies Vs. Machinima - Round 1

Picked up from Machin-X, Andrew links to Tony Walsh over at Clickable Culture posting an interesting response to the recent Wired article on machinima/'The Movies'. One part notes:
Peter Molyneux, creator of The Movies, "won't allow any machinima to appear on The Movies Online that might be perceived as obscene," writes Newitz. "If somebody tries to remake Star Wars and has Han Solo doing something disgusting, that's a problem," he told her. No further investigation here.
Interesting, so does using 'The Movies' put you in a similar legal place as using any other game engine or is there a greater degree of expressive censorship? Does Mr Molyneux hold the standard on what is acceptable human expression or is he just saying he can choose what to post on The Movies Online but you can still go to town on what you produce with the game?

In following a link off the comments of this article to the blog of Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, Chris had an interesting comment after his write-up comparing machinima from 'The Movies' to doing something in say Half Life 2:
What you're describing falls into what I would call the modding category, which requires far more sophistication than simple machinima. The advantage of machinima is tha it lowers the barrier to entry by letting you use pre-built videogame assets rather than building your sets and actor models. Modding strikes me as something else entirely.
This is an interesting view (not one I necessarily support) but is it possible for a game like 'The Movies' to fork machinima growth? Its interesting on how this game is working with a growing culture of new filmmakers. Maybe we will have 'The Sims2' have machinima-off's against 'The Movies' gangs.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hugh Steps Down

So wow! Hugh Hancock has stepped down as Editor-In-Chief of Machinima.com. This is big news for the machinima community. For Hugh, I expect its just a narrowing of focus. Now he can do what I he really wants. Make a movie. Hes pulled off the ultimate marketing powerplay. Hes created an industry, so we can make our movies.

Personally, Hugh has brought great opportunity to my path. As previous written I was in talks with BioWare about opportunities for a Cinematic Designer. The part of the story I left out was that it was actually Hugh that put BioWare in touch with me. His BloodSpell film is being done with the Neverwinter Nights engine so he had some dealing with the BioWare guys. When this position came up between them I was a direction Hugh pointed them in. Now I'm happy to say, thank you Hugh, I'm moving to Edmonton! :)

I start at BioWare March 1st to be working as Cinematic Designer on Mass Effect (Unreal Engine 3!).

Tres cool!

Thanks Hugh! :) :) :)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lights, camera, joystick

From TheAge (Latest news from Australia and the World):
A new wave of filmmakers is hacking into video games and using screen grabs of The Sims and Quake to make their own movies. Now machinima has hit Hollywood. Alex Krotoski explains.

Hugh Hancock is deep into the final throes of production on his first feature-length movie, BloodSpell. He has been mulling over this project since late 2003, after a collaborator said his work had lost that "punk edge". His response was to make a movie that defied most of the rules of traditional filmmaking. BloodSpell isn't even cinema - it's machinima. And as a result it is billed as "a truly independent, zero-budget, animated action-adventure feature film, combining the irreverent, aggressive, DIY ethos of punk with the epic scale and power of fantasy".
Good three page article thats good up to date coverage of the machinima phenomenon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

OGLE: The OpenGLExtractor

First noticed by gtoon over at Machinima.com forums the OGLE tool has opened a lot of possibilities.
OGLE: The OpenGLExtractor is a tool that lets you grab 3d data out of an OpenGL application and output it as models again. What does that mean? It means that someone with a 3d printer can get 3d statuettes of their Second Life character. They can send it off to be manufactured, if they like. It means that you can snag any 3d model you like out of someone else's game data, and insert it into your own 3d scene.

For an immediate idea of such possibilities check out this project brought to light by Fiezi where Theodore Watson is using this and Google Earth to create a machinima piece. Tres cool. As discussed on Raph Koster's blog, your milage may very depending on the complexity of the game models your trying to extract and if the game supports OpenGL at all. But hey, sure is an awesome start...

Disney to Acquire Pixar

Well if this is news then you haven't been paying attention. Its all over the place. At 7.4 b b b billiioooonnnn dollars its hard not to make a news item of it. I like the one comment from Slashdot, " So, dear Slashdot, does this mean that Disney's movies will improve, or that Pixar's will become worse?" ;) With John Lasseter as Disney's Chief Creative Officer they just might have a chance... From the press release:
Furthering its strategy of delivering outstanding creative content, Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), announced today that Disney has agreed to acquire computer animation leader Pixar (NASDAQ: PIXR) in an all-stock transaction, expected to be completed by this summer. Under terms of the agreement, 2.3 Disney shares will be issued for each Pixar share. Based on Pixar's fully diluted shares outstanding, the transaction value is $7.4 billion ($6.3 billion net of Pixar's cash of just over $1 billion).
Not a bad 10mil investment for Steven Jobs from George Lucas 20 years ago. Apparently this makes Jobs the biggest single shareholder in Disney. Get ready for iDisney...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Viral Machinima: Jesus vs Easter

Pluked off the forums over at machinima.com I checked out this machinima flick from Lionhead's 'The Movies'. Damn! Funny shite! Had me laughing.

A film by MefuneAkira

Be sure to check it out, unless your easily offended. Then watch it anyways because your just too curious. I know you are! Thats why its 'viral'. Muhahahahahaaa.

Advertising to Be Incorporated Into Virtually All Video Games

A BusinessWire press release about an interesting conference. "Due to the soaring costs of developing video games, the tremendous reach of video games, extended exposure to ads when playing video games, and integration with on-line commerce, advergaming will be a common fixture in video games," said David Wanetick, Managing Director of The Wall Street Transcript.
The Wall Street Transcript is running its Profiting in the Video Game Economy Conference in New York City on February 16. In addition to Advergaming, this conference will discuss issues such as the Overall Direction of Video Games; Considerations for Investing in the Video Game Economy; The Impact of Hollywood on Video Games; Wireless Gaming and Multimedia; Casual Games; Overview of Machinima; The Convergence of Video Games and Comic Books; and, Legal Issues Impacting Video Games.
Would like to see someones notes on this conference post Feb 16th.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Machinima LIVE! Episode 5

Machinima LIVE! has moved into EP5.
Episode 5 welcomes talented Machinima artist, Jonathan Perry, onto the show for the first time! He provides great insight into his latest Machinima, "Inside the Machinima", which is still playing on our website. We also spend much needed time on a segment called, "The Critique", in which we break down all facets of Machinima filmmaking and how it is critiqued specifically. What do Machinima enthusiasts need to remember when producing their own films?
You know where to get it!

Friday, January 20, 2006

Machinima Pick: June

Was over in the Machinima section of the Internet Archive and saw this film by Brian Berndt.
Feisar (Brian Berndt) is a member of the Georgia Tech Machinima Group directed by Michael Nitsche . Set in part to ISAN's "My Last Journey (Weather Balloon)," this movie adopts familiar locations from Valve's Half-Life 2 and Source maps, as well as Garry's Mod, to revisit the common machinima theme of the loss of loved ones in combat.

Very well edited and produced. Definitely created with the language of film in mind and a focus on story as its built upon pure game content. It would be interesting what someone whose never seen HL2 would think of it as part of my challenge was looking past HL2 and into the actual story. It's one of the few HL2 Machinima I've seen, which is greatly surprising as I always thought HL2 would be one of the more popular Machinima making engines... its definitely got the tools and quality behind it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Lights, Camera, Play!

"They're not exactly Pixar, but a crew of Highland Park teens find fame--not fortune--making machinima movies on the Xbox".
As computer graphics for games grow more sophisticated, some fans believe machinima will revolutionize filmmaking. Wired magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson has called machinima "basement Pixar," a way for anyone to make low-cost movies with animation. "The technology is exponentially developing," says Paul Marino, a 3-D animator who in 2002 founded the nonprofit Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences in New York. "People are starting to see this as a way to do production. Television is interested in machinima because it cuts down on production costs. The History Channel used [the World War II game] Brothers in Arms 2 to explore some narratives. There's been a lot of interest in Hollywood."
Picked from the Dallas Observer.

Interview with creators of 'Return'

Picked this Rufus Cubed interview off WoW Insider. Best recognized for their excellent WoW Machinima film 'The Return':
With the latest WoW movie contest looming on the horizon, we take this opportunity to present you an interview with Terran Justice & BrotherVoltaire, the guys at Rufus Cubed Productions, creators of the acclaimed WoW machinima film 'Return'. The film was a sensation at the latest Blizzcon, and if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor & check it out!
Go giver'eh read.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Viral Machinima: 'Cease-and-desist"

Pulled from Wuxia blog.
Oh man, this one just made my day. It’s a machinima short that is an entertaining dig against the “Nameless Comic Book Entity” who was giving “City of Heros” a hard time about having a very powerful character generation system. Powerful enough that industrious players can make their in-game characters resemble trademarked/copyrighted properties.

And express ourselves we shall do. Nice work. Pull it down from flickr.

Word to the Machinima

More for archiving purposes the following chart shows activity in 2005 for the word 'machinima' within a blogsphere of 25.4 million sites and 1.9 billion links indexed by technorati.

Its based on a total of 2,858 posts over the last 365 days that have the word, across all languages and all blogs. Hopefully this time next year I can remember to come back to this and compare growth. I expect the highs in the last part of the year was that french 'movies' film... I forget what its called... ;)

Call for Entries: Realtime Film Festival

In a support email recieved from Bitfilm and as noted in Klaus's comment below, The Realtime Film Festival will take place from May 2 to 4 in Stuttgart, Germany, as a part of the FMX conference for animation, effects, games and postproduction and the Stuttgart Festival for Animated Film:
The Realtime Film Festival deals with the artistic challenges through current realtime graphics and screens the most interesting Demos, Machinimas, Cut Scenes, Flash Animations and VJ Visuals of the past year.
"The submission formular" is here. Thanks for the heads up Klaus!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Chrysler To Sponsor The Movies Machinima Competition

Big news via Gamasutra:
According to a report in film industry trade paper the Hollywood Reporter, a machinima competition for Activision and Lionhead Studios' PC game The Movies is set to be launched at the famous Sundance Film Festival this Friday.
Win this and you may find yourself with a new car. It all starts with a little corporate backing I tell ya...corporate backing that has a dedicated PR and Marketing department. ;)

2006 Machinima Predictions

Over at Paul Marino's blog he has his machinima related predictions for 2006. Obviously worth the read and will be fun to see where he stands at the end of the year.

Although I think Paul played it a little safe so I figured I'd throw out my Top Ten Machinima predictions for 2006 that are far more likely:

#10. Activision sues 'The Movies' game user for creating and distributing obscene film content with the game. Turns out to be an undisclosed Lionhead employee. Peter Molyneux resigns shortly after. Film wins Machinima Film Festival 2006 award for 'Best Picture'.

#9. Machinima LIVE! guys caught in verbal battle with 'Christians Against Podcasting Evils' for questionable messages in their broadcasts when heard backwards. LIVE! gets deal with Sirus satellite radio.

#8. Paul Marino gets promoted to Senior Executive Director of the AMAS.

#7. Hugh Hancock caught in scandal with virtual actors dressed in old english drag. Community forums overwhelmed with posts on who's sword was bigger.

#6. Viral machinima based on #7 banned by schools, churches and business institutions. Gets MTV 'Video of the Year' after soundtrack provided by 50 cent.

#5. The 2006 Machinima Film Fest has a record breaking 150 categories and gives out 221 awards! Everyone is a winner!

#4. Machinimag gets picked up by big name publisher. Drops machinima focus and is renamed to fiezimag.

#3. SpikeTV produces Extreme Machinima MakeOver television show. Takes the worse machinima released and makes in marginally better.

#2. Ill Clan really does get ill. Passes strange bug to Red vs Blue members who name it 'cockbite disease'. Everyone Panics.

#1. Due to legal battle between Activision, FOX and Viacom for name dominance, machinima is dropped by the community and renamed to machenema. Given direction by our corporate overlords a new description of 'films made mostly with games" is legally allowed and all new content recognized as from the enema era. Hilarity pursues.


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Machinima LIVE! Episode 4 out!

Right from the podmasters mouth:
On behalf of myself, Dr. Nemesis and Overman, we present Machinima LIVE! episode 4 to the Machinima Community.

Listen or download your copy at www.chaotic-realms.com. Be sure to sign the guestbook or post a comment on our blogger page.

A special thanks goes out to Amanda Stanley from 7pandas.com, who appeared as our featured guest this week and did a marvelous job!
Based on the vast incline of improvement each episode is bringing us, I look forward to listening.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fresh Baked Videogames Interview

Spike TV's Sharon Levy chats about their new video game themed sketch comedy series.
While the self labeled video game themed cable TV network G4 is actually cutting down on its video game themed programming, rival network Spike TV has been slowly increasing its video game themed shows from frequent "Ultimate Gamer" specials to the weekly news show Game Head to the Spike TV Video Game Awards. This Saturday at midnight (EST) yet another weekly video game themed show debuts on Spike TV, but Fresh Baked Videogames uses the theme as a basis for an unusual sketch comedy show.
A quick 11 question interview over at Gameclound on the new Spike TV show that will have some machinima involved.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Person 2184 Episode 2 Released!

I stumbled across this with amazement that it has not been announced. Machinima award winning artist Friedrich Kirschner has quietly (? unless I missed something here) released the second episode of Person 2184, called 'the photographer'. It is works beyond the bounds of description. True machinima that sees no limit of artistic expression.

Thank you fiezi..

First Sex In Video Games Conference Announced

From Gamasutra
The annual conference is the first of its kind and aims to focus on the design, development and technology of sex in video games from a U.S. as well as international perspective. The conference will also focus on business matchmaking and networking. As well as various lectures and keynotes, the conference will feature a machinima art show (erotic art and movies derived from video games) as well as panel discussions.
Ok, I'm sure I'm starting to look like a perv now as this is my second posting of machinima and sex but it just seems to be a hot topic this week (and its not because I need hits). So who among you will be our virtual Larry Flint or Hugh Han..Heffiner? "NeoErotic Hentai?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mother of Two Beats Out Hardcore Gamers

Picked up from over at the forums of Machinima.com, the winner of the GGL.com 'You'll Shoot Your Eye Out" movie contest was announced.
…And the winner of the first annual GGL Holiday Movie Contest is Michellepm and her movie "Santa Says!" Using the "The Sims 2" engine, Michelle takes us through some important tips for holiday safety -- Santa is set on fire, electrocuted, slapped by Mrs. Claus, and has to, shall we say, improvise Christmas dinner. What’s not to love?! This is a movie that tells a clear, simple story and it's just plain funny! This is definitely the public service announcement of the season here at GGL.
Ya can also read a little whois on Michelle of Britannica Dreams over at GGL as well. Congrats Michelle and enjoy that xbox360!!

Gamecaster Cybercam 2.0

I came across this news bit at Gamers.com
Gamecaster today announced that "research, development, and manufacturing of its second-generation, patent-pending Gamecaster Cybercam technology" has been completed. This technology is designed to work for "cameramen" for sports videogames, giving them options similar to that of real televised sports cameramen. The system is also useable in other games, giving precise camera movement that will be invaluable for game makers demoing their games, and creators of "machinima" (movies made using game engines).
I didn't see any more info on this technology around the web as it seemed tres cool but I remembered a brief email chat I had with GameCaster CEO David MacIntosh earlier in 2004. I dug up his email and he sent a link to the promo movie and the following pic:

This is still out of the hands of the low budget, independent machinima filmmaker but it is very cool. One of my issues with machinima filming is the 'robotic' like camera movement your limited to (good case for a lot of static shots), but having something like this would give a more 'real world' viewing/filming feel within your virtual environments. Gamecaster is leading it in a more 'sports viewing' area for this technology but the uses for higher production machinima is obvious. Check out the promo trailer for more visual goods. A technology and company to continue to watch!

Monday, January 09, 2006

The 10 Most Interesting People in Gaming for 2005

Amongst what I expect are the final reflections back on the year 2005, GamerGod rolls out their list of "The 10 Most Interesting People in Gaming for 2005".
To begin GamerGod’s look back at 2005, we stop and look at the people who made the headlines in gaming. We looked for the people and names in gaming that caught major attention and were a source of interesting news or high entertainment in the process of making these selections. Like them or not, most gamers will recognize these names and know a bit of the story behind them.
Looks fair enough... I guess..

Friday, January 06, 2006

Spartan goes SpikeTV

SpikeTV.com asked This Spartan Life to create a series of 6 short webisodes exclusively for their site. You can check them out at SpikeTV.com behind the 'VGA TV' link. This is the kinda stuff you get when your an award winning machinima team.

I'm sooo looking forward to the KORN interview. Seriously!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Machinima Sex

Hmmm, where to start.. well I was checking out this article over at arstechnica "Massively Multiplayer Orgies? Online Role Playing Bacchanals?" which is about sexual content and online games. It had a reference to machinima and Second Life
You may have heard of Second Life, a MMORPG with no direct in-game goals, and a world built mostly by the players. The extensibility of the world and the game mechanics quickly led to the release of Second Life Teen, which placed some restrictions on what could be done. In the uncensored version, a whole flora of very, very adult activities has arisen. Machinima, or movies produced using nothing but game engines, is a popular use of Second Life, and a fair share of that is sexually explicit. But you'd expect that, right? There are users with more imagination than that. Take for example Thomas Struszka, the editor of in-game porn rag Slustler.
A fair share of Second Life machinima movies is sexually explicit? I did not know this. The article lead me over to Wired, "Cyberporn Sells in Virtual World":
You've heard of machinima -- films made by altering video-game footage -- but that's not the only thing coming out of games these days. Players of the massively multiplayer online title Second Life have started a new type of pornographic magazine, one that passes up real-life models for sexy, in-world avatars.
The article didn't really cover 'machinima porn' but it did lead me to another site, MMOrgy, a blog on sex and MMO games. From the site:
Why do we have sex in games? Simple, it's part of our nature, and MMOs are all about human nature and creativity. We bring to the world the things we are familiar with, our hopes and dreams, the things we wish were possible but are sadly not because of money, time, or the laws of physics. Combine this with the fact that every month some new feature comes out that makes these worlds a little more immersive, a little more real, and soon youve created a playground where people can lose themselves, experiment, and learn new things all in front of their computer screen. MMOs allow us to act out events without fear of being caught publically or not being able to stop it if we don't like it. The power switch to your PC or console is one of the safest "safe words" you can have.
After brushing through the entries on the site, which is an experience in itself, I finally found the goods (not that I was looking... well.. I was. Hey, I want to check out all avenues of this filmmaking evolution called machinima) It was not Second Life but World Of Warcraft machinima porn.

So here, I present to you machinima porn. I laughed my ass off (picture the voice actors on this one) but its surprising good production quality for what you'd expect... yet, a little freakish at the same time. Presented from WoW Adult, a German blog to what looks to be the beginnings of a World of Warcraft Machinima Porn site (can be read via babelfish translation), check out WOW Porn1 (click the free download link and wait 30 seconds).

VirtualStage Version 3 is now available

Playing a little catch up here but.. Dakine Wave is delighted to announce the release of Version 3 of VirtualStage.
VirtualStage is a toolkit aimed at the machinima filmmaker. It provides all of the tools necessary to create 3D animated movies in an easy-to-use package. You design and build your own sets, position and control the cameras, and configure the lighting. The virtual actors perform each scene by following your directions. You can define their actions and gestures using a keyframe animation tool that does not require any previous animation experience. The actors' speech is generated by voice synthesis engines or, if you prefer, you can make and use recordings of real voices. Lip synchronisation is automatic with the synthesized voices.
You can download a free copy of VirtualStage Lite and get more info from Dakine Wave.

More LIVE!

Episode 3 of Machinima LIVE! has been released. I'm half way through episode 2 (thanks for the kudo's guys!) but I'm hoping to catch up as I'm looking forward to listening to the new episode featuring Overman of Zarathustra Studio fame (oldskool!) From the release:
Our production team is very excited about this latest release into the new year of 2006! We feel these pod casts are headed in a positive direction and developing interest throughout the online community. The goal is to heighten everyone’s’ interest in Machinima by sharing our own values and knowledge on this new digital art form and explaining the effect that Machinima has on the entertainment industry. Machinima is a creative art of self-expression. Realize the potential and execute to the next level!
So head over to Chaotic-Realms and pick up yer copy! Once you've listened share your comments on the site or over on the forum thread at Machinima.com.