Ego Central to Machinima Filmmaker Ken Thain

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pretty Schick Machinima

It's corporate hoopla disguised as 'vial video' but its machinima, so I'm posting. Much like the 'God of War' machinima Heavy produced long ago, it looks like its not a one off for this burgeoning industry. Though 'Kuma Reality Games' Schick (best known for their razorblades I guess) has produced some machinima in the hopes that everyone will know run out a buy their schtuff. Their focus is more on the free episodic game 'Dinohunters' but like most games these days, it comes with a side dish of wannabe machinima. Me, I do think it helps the machinima industry regardless. Anywhere there are cash injections, people will take another look.
I guess having a blonde with big tits helps too.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Machinima LIVE #7

I didn't see this one coming but Digital Phil has released EP7 of popular Machinima focused podcast Machinima LIVE. This episode he has a greatly respected co-host that provides a great expertise to the podcast. Looking forward to hearing the series back on track.

Its all so Pawfect

Was checking out samples of a terrain generator, Terragen2. Its output is simply amazing. I can see these being the quality of interactive virtual environments within next-next gen systems. Wow, its such a great time to be around if your into the virtualization of reality.

Also, ceedj of Pawfectfilms has released his new GTA:SA movie-making mod. So if your interested in making machinima in Grand Theft Auto, this is the defacto tool you need. Also ceedj has released one of the best 'machinima tool advertisements' I have seen to date, Where's Zero.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Google Sketchup now Google Free Beer

I checked out Sketchup when Google first bought the company. Its a very unique and cool 3d modeling app. I recommend a play. The best part is now its a free tool.
Google SketchUp (free) is an easy-to-learn 3D modeling program whose few simple tools enable you to create 3D models of houses, sheds, decks, home additions, woodworking projects – even space ships. You can add details, textures and glass to your models, design with dimensional accuracy.
I also noticed while checking out the site, Google has something now called '3D Warehouse'.
The new 3D Warehouse is an online location where you can find and share 3D models. (...)The models in the 3D Warehouse include everything you need for your own 3D world, including buildings, houses, bridges, statues, sculptures, couches, cars, people, pets, and much more.
This could turn out to be a very cool resource, even though it is Sketchup and Google Earth focused. Keep it bookmarked!

Curiously Strange Machinima

Came across this piece of machinima mentioned on a number of sites, 'An Unreal Love Story'. It was apparently 'put together' by an alumni of the Second City comedy troupe. I assume this is the writer, director Andy Cobb who also has a re-occuring role on The Family Guy.
The film is a Red vs Blue knock-off set to the tone of some show like 'Hair' or 'Rocky Horror Picture Show'. Filmed real-time within the UT2004 engine, production value is very average but the humour and overall enjoyment factor is 'quarky good fun'.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

BloodSpell Forged

I knew I'd have at least one posting today as the expected release date for Episode 1 of BloodSpell. I took the opportunity to download it and watch the high res WMF version. With this being a big release within the machinima community I figured I'd give a few lines in review of my initial thoughts.

Just as like comments from ShoverStein earlier state, this series will not be for everyone, but the important thing to keep in mind is this is Episode 1 of a series that won't end there. There will be more. And very much like the first Simpson's episode which was visually crude and kind of more amusing to watch than anything particularly engaging, it matured in to a phenomenal primetime hit series. Will BloodSpell reach this status? Doubtful, but at the same time its far too early to say. Hugh and company are just warming up. In general here are my impressions that focus on the general production rather than any nit picky things (like the fly throughs during credits moving too quickly and finding the general framerate a little choppy or the soldier at 1:13 running right through a door frame, I can't stand polyclipping!) :)

  • Good story for opener. It looks to be leaning toward a depth in story that can hold an audience.
  • Unique genre style (although termed Post-Goth, yet looks to be very medieval timing).
  • I love the music. Future episodes will tell if this hardcore style pans out within the series.
  • The details in the environment (i.e. dog running across street) and secondary actor actions show greater depth of the story world. Makes it more engaging.
  • This is a series made from passion, you can see it in the scope of this one episode.
  • Hugh and team need to focus more on the subtitles of human behaviour. Its a huge step for simple lip-syncing in the NWN engine but facial expressions or even a simple blink can make all the difference. Step up the virtual acting (no body swings their arms like that when they run).
  • Remember first impressions? The one here is the StrangeCompany logo at the start, in a very over stretched, low res, artifact-y look. An unimpressive visual logo begins things on the wrong path and looks less professional. At least show a nicely rendered version to show your serious. The rest of the credits were good.
  • The sound on the whole was very good. I did find myself checking my speakers at one point because of an unplaced crackling. I believe this was the torch fires on the walls. The Voice recordings seemed a little uneven at times as well.
  • Jered's eyebrows drove me nuts.
Done in the NeverWinter Nights engine is a feat in itself. Hugh and company have pushed this engine in ways its never been, and I have tried! The graphical edges may be a little rough and the visual style still a little 'gamey' but this is a huge production in the terms of average day machinima films and has all the potential that comes with it. Now we get to sit back and watch as this whole series comes together. Well done Hugh and company.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Offset Engine at GDC video

Came across this video of a real-time demo of ProjectOffset's impressive engine. Its short, but impressive. Release is far out in the future and who knows how it will fair in the machinima tools department, but its a fun one to watch.
Another good view is the G4 episode they were on (listed 3rd on their media page). This shows some of the engine features a little more indepth.

More of Hugh's Machinima Bloodspill

The title in reference to the blood and sweat Mr. Hancock and his Strange Company are putting forth on BloodSpell. Tomorrow is release day but if you would like a little more buildup check out the second teaser trailer released today. Also, drop by the Bloodspell blog to read Hugh's thoughts before the big release day tomorrow. I wish them the best of luck on the release.

Viacom Buys Xfire For $102 Million

Just an interesting tidbit. Visitors should recognize Xfire mostly for its machinima contests.
MTV parent Viacom has announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire online gaming communication and community platform Xfire for $102 million in cash.

This continues the company's move into game-related markets that has seen the acquisition of virtual pet website NeoPets and game content site GameTrailers, as well as the announcement of a MTV Games co-branding label for console titles.
$102Mil wow. Now maybe they'll hold some serious machinima contests. :) And I didn't realize GameTrailers had been picked up by Viacom as well. Games and content... I wish I new of a medium that at times creatively mixed the two. There might be some financial opportunity there... ;)

Monday, April 24, 2006

SFIFF: Cockbyte: Masters of Machinima

A little bit of interesting feedback (here too) from the well hyped 'Red Vs Blue' appearance at the San Francisco Independent Film Festival.
One of the first things that the guys from "RvB" said, before their Q&A even started, was that they weren't responsible for the title. So who is? Where'd the title come from? What does it even mean? And was it intended as a subtle warning that the show would, in fact, bite cock?
I'm glad these 'masters' did us and the medium so well. I think the representation could have been better placed.

Machinima machinations

Nice little machinima rant over at p2pnet.net by a non-machinima maker on the behalf of us. Even people outside the community feel our pain.
Watching the machinima community from a distance, I see a lot of frustration. There are film makers out there just dying to push the envelope and explore the limits of the technology at their disposal, but anything they do that might bring them any kind of publicity (and popularity) will probably get them in a lot of legal trouble as well.
I think things will start to move in our favour as the value of game content and digital distribution (Steam, Xbox Live, etc.) increases in the next gen era and publishers will either turn to us with opportunity or assimulate us with their own versions of game based machinima's. Either way, its growth.

Friday, April 21, 2006

BloodSpell Teaser

In what is looking to be the biggest hyped and pimped new machinima movie release ever (and I mean this in a good way!) The Bloodspell guys are wetting our appetites even further with this 'kick you in the balls' teaser trailer release.
Next Wednesday is the big release day of EP1, but in the mean time check out the teaser.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Make Machinima in Milkshape Model Movie Maker

There's a mouthful. Came across this tool over at Movie Mechinima for making machinima. Its based on the file format from popular community supported 3D tool, Milkshape 3D.
Milkshape Model Movie Maker is a real time animation studio, capable of importing Milkshape model files for animation and 3D scene development. There are many types of effects to choose from in order to create many kinds of animated sequences.
At a cost of $44.95 and a website with a design that looks to be barely worth about that, I not sure how this tool will stand out. The manual looks a little basic but may have all the needed power for making films in a real-time graphical environment. Could be a diamond in the rough or pure shite. You decide. :P

And if that doesn't do it for you, surrender your soul to Negadon!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

See, Hear, Read, Think, Share, Learn

'The Overcast', podcast 3 is out. Its a good listen and even though I've downloaded the film twice and read about it elsewhere, this podcast finally prompted me to watch 'The Fixer' and it was worth the download. Thanks Overman.

While your in a watching mood check out the latest trailer to 'A Scanner Darkly'. The extremely unique look to it I find very cool and look forward to see how it works out as a full film. I feel this type of modern filmmaking (Sin City being another, among others) opens up greater acceptance for serious films that don't have to look so 'real' but touch us just the same. I believe this also opens the doors wider for independent machinima filmmakers in what can be achieved (non-photorealistic styles) and the acceptance of such films because they are so different.
But what is art anyways?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Worth Watching Today

Slowly getting over a nice 4 day weekend I just had which mostly involved moving into our new house. Its great to be out of the corporate apartment and into somewhere my 4 year old can run and yell freely, not that I ever instigate such behaviour.

I'm sure most visitors are already aware of release number 7 of Gaming News w/ Lady Mainframe is out. This one written by Lady Mainframe herself. Make sure to register on the site so you can get the high resolution copy.

Also, for the extreme eye candy of the day, check out this pre-rendered footage for the new Driver game. This is modern CG at its best. Seeing this today, I can not comprehend where things will be in 10 years. How can you get better than absolute photorealistic rendering and performance? I'd say we're 90% of the way there and this short proves it.
See the full video here. What your still reading? Get clickin'!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Garry's Mod Goes Commercial

This is pretty neat. As announced on Steam Garry's Mod is going commercial. I think most know Garry's Mod as a great tool and fun sandbox for the Source (HL2) Engine. Its not perfect for machinima but has the best creative playground for making machinima outside traditional machinima methods.
Garry’s Mod, the Source-powered physics sandbox famed across the games industry, is to be sold over Steam for $10 US (convert), with profits split 50/50 between Garry and his team of contributors and Valve. What is currently known as version 9.1 will lose its number and become the initial paid release, while the current version (9.04) will remain as a free demo. All updates will be free.
I think this is also big for mod tool developers. If someone made a fairly decent HL2 machinima filmmaking tool I would buy it through Steam. This is opening new avenues for people who want to support their work and be supported by its users.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Cinematic Designer with Bungie

I came across this job posting. I'm obviously not looking but you never know who else may be interested around the community. It also helps to show a career path as a 'Cinematic Designer' (which is what I equate to professional machinima filmmaker for games) is becoming more and more sought out. Even if you don't qualify the requirements help show where you should focus your learnin'
The Cinematic Team is a special place at Bungie. Do you have the flame resistant clothing necessary to throw yourself at the resource bonfires we create? Can you help secure the funds for the enormous checks that we write? Can you follow the arcane analogies that we come up with? Every day in our department is spent overcoming technological hurdles in an effort to push movie quality cinematic graphics into a real-time environment. You'd be crazy to join us. But we're crazy, so you'd fit right in.
The posting is found over here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New art form lifts game

A good little article downunder at the Sidney Morning Hearld introducing its readers to machinima. This part caught by eye:
ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) is also holding a Machinima Film Festival on May 6 and 7, curated and presented by Paul Marino, director of New York's annual Machinima Film Festival.
I don't know what impressed me more; the MFF Aussie style or the global momentum that Marino continues to fire. There's no Aussie rep's on the frappr map, but it looks like this may change come May. :)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Ten video sharing services compared

Discovered via Slashdot:
Digital Video Guru is running a comparison of 10 digital video sharing sites - EyeSpot Beta, Google Video Beta, Grouper Beta, Jumpcut Beta, OurMedia, Revver Beta, VideoEgg, Vimeo, vSocial and YouTube.
A big part of the post-release machinima production cycle is getting your film seen. I think this list is a good place to find some of your top options. I'll let you read to find which one will ultimately get you the most traffic, although I would consider using them all.

Friday, April 07, 2006

'Machinima' Becoming Used for Social Criticism

An interesting read over at Backstage.com. It goes into the social ranges that not only machinima is crossing into but is enabling people to speak to. Nice to see the medium referenced in such a positive way. Now if we could just get more films demonstrating this social power.
Habib Zargarpour, a senior art director at Electronic Arts in Vancouver, observed that during the past six months there has been a convergence of more user-friendly tools -- in particular "The Movies" -- and more users becoming aware that they can quickly craft stories at home in animated 3-D environments.

"The video game narrative is defining its own genre partially because of its look but also because real-time graphics engines allow people to work faster and get ideas out," Zargarpour said. "That development really puts animated storytelling tools in the hands of almost anybody who has a computer, and that opens doors to thousands of new voices."
How can you change the world for the better through Machinima? Just tell your stories. Show people what the world looks like from your eyes. We all learn from each other.

Cinematic Game Trailer: World In Conflict

I came across this impressive game trailer. Its all traditional 3D CG produced but is really showing where we're at these days with the technology. And this from a team of 6. I think the trailer content really puts in an emotional appeal.
There were 6 people dedicated to the production when the trailer was produced (1 director/compositor, 2 2d/3d artists, 1 animator, 1 effects artist and a sound designer). We recorded the motion capture at an external studio. The main programs used were Lightwave, Modo, Photoshop, Z-brush, Maya and After Effects.
See it here.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Microsoft snaps up Lionhead Studios

Reported over at BBCNews Microsoft has bought Lionhead Studios, most noted in the machinima community for its game 'The Movies':
The purchase of Mr Molyneux's Lionhead Studios is part of Microsoft's efforts to secure exclusive titles for its new console, the Xbox 360.
Will this be a strong boost to The Movies or fade to black like Microsofts original machinima vision '3D Movie Maker' so many years ago (yes, they were there even before 'quake movies'...).

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Red Vs. Who?

Came across a Burnie Burns interview over at Bungie.net. Its mostly RvB related but with some machinima in the mix. I like this part:
Are you guys surprised at the exponential growth of the Machinima scene?

Yes and I believe Bungie has a lot to do with that growth. It's going to sound like a total ass kiss when I say this, but I think that a lot of other video game companies have started to embrace machinima based on Bungie's reaction to the movement. There's always going to be a certain level of uneasiness when something like this comes along. With all the tools being built into games for recording and HUD removal, it's clear that a lot of companies are now "getting it". And it certainly didn't hurt that Bungie "got it" first.
Wow, hope that one doesn't make it into the history books, then again they don't always hold the real truth anyways. ;)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Overcast Deux

If you visit any other machinima related sites then this is pretty much old news, but its the most recent around. Machinima influenced podcast 'The Overcast' by the overman is in its second running. Its got a good mix of info and machinima reviews. The one thing I do enjoy is the reviewing of machinima films which helps bring your machinima watching time to a higher ratio of quality. If you haven't heard EP2 what are you waiting for?