Ego Central to Machinima Filmmaker Ken Thain

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Game Video's served up hot

Found this over at GameSetWatch:
Looks like there's been a happy delivery over in the Ziff Davis offices, since game video site GameVideos.com is now live, in the customary 'Beta' format.
Another car on the content train that is taking advantage of the abundance of passive game content. And yes, theres machinima mixed in there. Looks like another outlet to get your stuff seen!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Its Unreal , all of it

I don't think its any big secret that I'm a big fan of the Unreal Engine and getting to work with UE3 is a huge deal. So naturally it catches my eye when its in the media. But I guess it has also caught the eye of CNN's Money as they introduce the rest of the world to Epic...
Mention Epic Games to a hardcore gamer and their eyes glaze slightly as they begin rhapsodizing over a particularly memorable kill in "Unreal Tournament". Mention the company to anyone else, though, and you'll likely get a blank stare.

Epic Games is hardly an unknown player in the video game industry, but it's one that hasn't quite broken through to the mainstream world. Odds are that's about to change.
I also particularly like this part:
"We're going to go nuts with mods once 'Unreal Tournament [2007]' (another Unreal Engine 3 title) ships," he said. "The developer tools are much, much easier to use. In fact, now we have the potential to offer mods via the PS3."
Being able to do mods (which has basis in making machinima) in the PS3 and XBox360 will be a huge boon to machinima. Using consoles for machinima will be synonymous to PC titles in scope and quality.

Although, this may not be the same with Epic for the Nintendo Revolution (or whatever it will be called), but that will remain to be seen. And for another game engine with huge potential, check out the recent CryTek2 engine (Crysis) demo movie that was released at GDC. - wow -

Machinimagin' GDC

Make sure to stop by fiezi's Machinimag website today to get a taste of his adventure at GDC this year. From the site:
Here are some quick impressions on what (and who) was going on and how that might possibly affect machinima. Expect a more thorough look at the conference in the next issue of machinimag.
And if for nothing else, drop by for a glimpse at the booth babes. I like the hairy one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The New Force at Lucasfilm

Yanked from Slashdot.org:
"BusinessWeek has an interview with the heads of George Lucas' gaming and movie divisions, and discusses with them how they are getting closer and closer to integration. From the article: 'Pre-visualization, which is a big thing that George has been pushing lately. It's a tool that directors would use to quickly mock up the ideas of a story and see what's going to work. It's really like building up a preview of a movie in a video game world. Instead of using static story boards, you can really just get in and create 3D content and camera moves directly. It's the best example of the kind of collaboration we've got going on.'"
I think once they're ready to take the next steps with the combined technology and talent these guys may be the early workings of one of the most powerful machinima companies so far... unless of course you believe after a certain point, machinima fails to be machinima at all. The jury is still out on that for me.

and now the Machinima Weather: Overcast

I just listened to the premiere episode of the new podcast series 'Overcast' by machinima vet Phil Rice aka Overman. Having forked from the MachinimaLIVE! production (a topic I'd love to get the goods on. We all love a little community based drama), Phil's genius in audio production clearly shines through with a great line-up of machinima relevant news and skits (big laughs at the Brit with HL2!) with a real high quality sound. I do miss the back and forth banter that multiple hosts brings to a podcast though.
This Week’s Hot List:

* BloodSpell Production Blog
* Rooster Teeth
* The Online Machinima Film Festival
* Burnie Burns podcast at SxSW
* Clip of the Week: PEDS Episode 10, by Pawfect Films
* 2006 Game Developers Conference / field updates at MPrem forums
* The Warrington Top 12
* Review #1: Oh It’s On 2 by Bovine Cosmonaut Productions
* Review #2: Apollyon by Corinthian
* Review #3: Gaming News w/ Lady Mainframe, Vol. 6, by Binary Picture Show
* Friedrich Kirshner’s UT2004 Machinima Tool
* iClone - 3D character animation
Stop by and giver' a listen when you have the chance. Oh yeah, and I actually wasn't at GDC... :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gaming News Issue 6

I was able to catch the latest episode of Gaming News (6) released by the machinina production engine known as Binary Picture Show. This is really a unique and fantastic series that I see up there with 'This Spartan Life' as really creative machinima. I'm also surprised about how leading edge the news stories are. Well done on the writing side! From the site.
This issue takes a look At the new addon for 'The Movies', "Tomb Raider: Ledgend", and other very cool stories of the week. In addition filesize in now down by half for a faster download time.
Your first challenge will be in finding the download links on the page. For some reason I always miss it thinking its a google ad. :) Auto Assault looks fantastic and I also cracked up at little audio insert on the section about The Movies. Nice work Doc.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Getting Skooled in Machinima

Caught this over at Animation World. Gnomon School of Visual Effects specializes in training for careers in high-end computer graphics for the entertainment industry, and now I guess that includes machinima! Part of the spring term:
* Machinima Basics: Using Game Engines for Movies. This course focuses on the basics of using game engines to create movies. Machinima allows a small group of people, or even an individual to create high-quality complex movies, that traditionally have only been affordable to larger studio endeavors.
I'd be interested in knowing the curriculum. The very fact they are including this is a big step toward future machinima growth and industry specialization.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

GDC: Epic shows off Unreal tools

I'd much rather see a video then read about it, but heres a little article over at GameSpot on a Unreal Engine 3 demo at GDC. The main part for machinima makers is the part about Kismet near the bottom of the article. It really allows you to build some powerful technical structure into your level/sets/action in a visual way. Even Matinee is just an 'object' in kismet that you open up an interface for to set it up. So your trigger events, which are kismet objects lead into your matinee kismet object for activation. Kismet and Matinee are my main tools right now. But I like this part mentioned in the article that I have yet to explore/learn about, but really looking forward to:
Willard showed off a level whose appearance was easily altered using the engine's ability to link together multiple shader effects with an easy click-and-drag interface to combine lens filters with sepia tones and numerous others.
The thought of "lens filters' and 'sepia tones' is tres cool. These type of rendering effects will allow you to explore how you want your visuals to look. You will be able to create visual looks for your films in ways other than'that general gamey look'. This is definately next gen machinima filmmaking!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gameplay HD Channel Interview

Following yesterday's news of VOOM HD Networks' Gameplay HD channel, we sat down for a one on one with Vice President of Programming, Mark DeAngelis, to get the real scoop on the new gaming channel.
This post isn't so much about the channel as it is about this part:
We have also just begun to tap into the world of Machinima. We will also be bringing you specials of game launches, top E3 news and documentaries on the makers and shapers of the video game world.
Any channel dedicated to gaming presents a great opportunity for machinima content creator to get some budgeted work (if you aggressively pursue it). Its my assumption that as there is a larger need for machinima type content then that equals greater opportunity for machinima content creators...

GDCTV: Machinima: Using Games to Change Filmmaking and Instructional Video

If you enjoy watching rather than reading then here is another treat I found over at Gamasutra. They are featuring showcase video content of some of the notable sessions of last year's Game Developers Conference and Serious Games Summit. This one is particularly interesting.
This episode of GDCTV features "Machinima: Using Games to Change Filmmaking and Instructional Video" from last year's Serious Games Summit, as Paul Marino, an award-winning Machinima director and designer, discusses how games are changing the nature of animation and filmmaking, and how machinima techniques can be useful for instructional environments, serious game development, and the education of next-generation filmmakers.
Click through to see Paul in action!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Burnie Burns at SxSW

I came across this a few days ago over at the Machinima Premiere site. There is both a video of a conversation with Glennis McClellan (developing social 'hookup' (read:pron) MMO) and Bernie Burns of Red vs Blue fame at Studio SX 2006 and a podcast of his keynote:
What happens when you employ video game technology to produce narrative, episodic content? The reigning expert in this form explains the many new possibilities brought forth by this brave new world of machinima.
See the video here and pickup the podcast here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Tron's World

A great read on the making of one of my all time favourite films, TRON.
Ellenshaw took off to Hawaii to celebrate the good news to come. He expected his phone to ring any minute to tell him that Tron was a smash. But after sitting on the beach for a while, he just couldn't wait any longer. He jumped the gun and called the head of Disney, Dick Cook, to get the box office score. "Well Dick, how'd we do?"

Life, especially in Hollywood, is full of surprises. Tron would make a huge impact, indeed - just not the way Ellenshaw expected. The brainchild of writer / director Steve Lisberger, Tron had state-of-the-art special effects when it was released at the peak of the Atari age. The film was practically custom built for any young video game freak or computer geek at the time in 1982 - as well as decades afterward. Few could have predicted that Tron would have such an enduring effect on film, computers and video games. Indeed, the film's cult following is stronger than ever.
Get the complete inside story of the groundbreaking film and its legacy over at Tom's Hardware Guide.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Silver Bells and Golden Spurs - virtually made movie

If your interested in seeing the Second Life machinima premiered at SxSW (noted below), You can do so here. As found by Makezine.com:
This movie was made entirely in Second Life, and every object you see was made by a person, even the cameras are scriptable objects. There's a lot of machinima and DIY film making going on, so if you're interested with what's possible with this "tool" of sorts check it out.
Its not bad. The story definately drives it more than anything. Good camera work for inside a MMO. I just have a problem getting past the average looking characters, similar to what comes out with 'The Movies' and the Sims as well. They seem to try and emulate real life people too much. Everyone average height, build and equally animated.

Machinima 101

IGN has an article up focused on Machinima in a 'from the basics' style. It's a good overview.
Remember when you were a kid and puppet shows were captivating? Or maybe you used your action figures to stage elaborate productions portraying the good guys prevailing over the forces of evil. Every kid has used their toys to tell their own little stories. Now that we're all grown up, those low-quality performances don't seem like so much fun. Luckily, there's a new thing called Machinima that lets us put on almost professional-level shows.
The links at the bottom are interesting, with MachinimaHQ getting the 'community' linkage. Good promo!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Findin' Machinima

Along with "Machinima Central" which is Machinima.com, there has been a few places popping up to get and read about Machinima. Along with the top sources of Sims (Sims99) and The Movies (Lionhead) machinima (they should be nicked if not already, anybody heard something better than 'machinima made in The Movies' atleast Sims Machinima is smooth sounding). There's the new MachinimaHQ which is trying to focus more on quality machinima, from the site:
So, why? Why are we here? Not in the philosophical sense, I mean the site. Well, we just think that the Machinima community needs a really slick site to showcase the best there is. Like I said, I make the stuff myself (you'll probably find a few of my vids around the place) but there's very few good sites for it out there. And that's where we come in.
...and the new Warcraft Cinema for your WoW machinima fix.
WarcraftCinema.com is the revolutionary World of Warcraft movie site that is taking the WoW machinima community by storm. No longer do you need to spend hours downloading and keeping up with the latest in WoW machinima. Just load Warcraft Cinema when you have 10 minutes to spare, whether it be at work, school, home, or elsewhere. It's machinima, available when you want it and where you want it.
It'll be interesting to see how the proliferation of machinima content becomes a media beast that people try to take control of. Tons of it, owned by none and shared by all. Hense the importance of us hardcore machinima makers that like to do it all from scratch with our microbudgets... total ownership and control...if such a thing is the sweetest of things in this little 'industry'.

By the way, saw an episode of SpikeTV's Half Baked Video Games show. The producer at SpikeTV for that show must have been half baked when taking it on. Its pure shite. Take that budget and disperse amongst creators in the community for some custom content I say. You'll get much better work. I was thinking the other day, among the best machinima to surface so far in my opinion was around the Epic Make Something Unreal contest. Real groundbreaking stuff. Its amazing what can be done with a little motivation and reward. Half Baked is marketing dril trying to look hip to a Gamer market. Ugg.

Monday, March 13, 2006

BioWare Corp. Announces New "BioWare Austin" Studio

Since its where I work I gotta pimp my own company. :)
Canadian videogame developer BioWare Corp. has announced the opening of a new studio, BioWare Austin, based in Austin, Texas. It is the second of BioWare's studios and the first to be located outside of Canada.

BioWare Austin has already begun work on a Massively Multiplayer Online roleplaying game (MMORPG) title; the new game will mark BioWare's debut in the Massively Multiplayer Online space.
All the cool kids are doing MMO's. ;) Link to the PR.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Sex in Video Games Machinima Art Show Submission Call

For those with or working on some sexy machinima heres your chance to share the love.
The Sex in Video Games Conference: Exploring the Business of Digital Erotic Entertainment to be held June 8 and 9, 2006 at the Lodge at Union Square, Kensington Park Hotel in San Francisco, California is now accepting submissions for the Machinima Art Show. Ten submissions will be chosen and viewed over the course of the two day event.

The machinima show will highlight the wide variety of artistic endeavors where the film makers use game engines to create unique film pieces that showcase the melding of sex with games.
Details on the conference is here and you can submit your entries here (mailto:)

Second Life Machinima Film Premiers at SXSW

Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life are promoting the film 'Bells and Spurs' to premier at the Austin South by SouthWest festival. This is pretty interesting both because its a film that is getting 'proper' promotional release and secondly because its being hailed by Linden Labs.
"The world premiere of Bells and Spurs establishes Second Life as the foremost independent studio for Machinima production," said Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab. "We allow film directors ultimate control over every aspect of production, from character creation to sets, lighting, music and editing. We are certain that our open environment and current resident base of talented machinima artists will attract the attention and interest of existing and budding machinima auteurs."
Is Second Life stepping up its presence in the Machinima ring? Support like this by such a company could put it in a leading position for new films along side Sims2 and The Movies. Such corporate support may swoon more filmmakers.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Heard that pin drop?

Things still seem fairly quiet on the Machinima front. I haven't had the opportunity to watch many new films so hopefully there isn't some top quality works slipping by (no big talk of them right now anyways). The Xfire results is the only real indicator I've seen recently of what may be worth watching recently.

Its been 1 week since my employment at BioWare and things are very cool. There is a lot to get up to speed with but my experience with UT2004 helps a lot since Mass Effect is Unreal Engine 3 based. I'm really looking forward to when a UE3 based game is released so I can do some personal 'releaseable' machinima in it. Mostly because I'll be very up to speed in it! Think 'ultimate control'. I've been pretty much immersed in FaceFX right now. I haven't played with HL2 FacePoser so I can't compare but it is *very* cool with good bone rigged models. People will see more of it at the Game Developers Conference this month.

At least with all the 'doom and gloom' postings about and within the game industry, things are looking very good from where I'm sitting. :)

Monday, March 06, 2006

George Lucas Predicts Death of Big Budget Movies

Yanked from Slashdot:
"Before the red carpet had cooled at last night's Academy Awards, George Lucas told the New York Daily News that big-budget movies will soon be history. From the article: "'The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie,' said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. 'Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with King Kong.'" Lucas' prediction: "In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies ... I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million.""
Cheaper films means cheaper production methods which means accessibility to tools that do more to the independent market. Maybe Machinima and serious filmmaking aren't so far off especially with the next gen of graphics. Then again, 15mil is no chump change either. It could simply mean iconic actors working for cheaper....yeah right. ;)

Check out the article here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Concerned: A Half-Life Comic: The Interview

So as I get myself settled into my new employment digs I haven't seen a whole lot of 'industry' news around (unless your a Wow machinima fan. I gots some machinima to watch!). Anyways, an interesting read I came across was this article over at Primotech on the Half-Life comic series 'Concerned' (best enjoyed if a Valve/HL2 fan. REAL funny stuff). Id say this style of comic is a close cousin of animated Machinima because much like the influence of games on filmmaking, the game engine is allowing us to cross other boarders and let creative expression become so much more accessible to everyone, and Concerned is an excellent example of this.
When I was a kid and wanted to make a movie, I'd have to get all my friends together, get them to agree to what I wanted to do, borrow a camera from someone, maybe use the editing bay at my high school... it took a lot of coordination between all the different elements I'd need just to get something done, and a lot of relying on other people. With machinima, if someone wants to make a movie, they've got digital actors. They can download editing software. They can make their own soundtrack, record their own dialogue. You can make a movie, by yourself, on your computer, using tools that are often free to download. And that's amazing. It opens doors to have such few limitations on what you can accomplish without having to rely on other people.
Click through and read the interview.