Ego Central to Machinima Filmmaker Ken Thain

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Next Gen of Machinima Has Begun

So I could go on in this space about how fantastic and happy we've been with the release of Mass Effect and how the reviews have been really great. I could also talk about how excited the cinematic design team is with the reception of the 'interactive storytelling' element of the game that we specifically worked sooo hard on. Especially when you get very phenomenal feedback like,
The cinematic design is nothing short of masterful. This is a game that takes the aspects of film that make cinema so compelling and crosses it with the interactivity of games with unprecedented success. Linear storytelling feels quaint by comparison. IGN
And you would think I would be jumping up and down right now saying 'Run don't walk! Go buy Mass Effect!!'.

But I'm not.

Instead I'm going to use this space to mention something else. Something far more important to the machinima community. On Tuesday when you think we would have been celebrating the release of Mass Effect, my co-worker Jon Perry was calling around Edmonton looking for copies of the newly released Unreal Tournament 3.

I think most people interested in machinima knows what this means. Unreal Tournament is a pillar in the history of machinima for the unreal engine it's built upon and its modding capabilities. Right from the days of Quake 2, Unreal Tournament was there with its own set of community based machinima tools. With the release of Unreal Tournament 2003/2004 a new generation of machinima came with it. And now with Unreal Tournament 3 for the PC, built with the Unreal 3 engine, the next generation of tools for hardcore machinima making has arrived. I know this because we built Mass Effect on top of the Unreal 3 engine, which is why a large portion of the cinematic design team was at EB Games today buying among the first copies available in Edmonton, right from the box they were shipped in behind the counter.

Once I got it home and installed, I went straight into the editor and started giggling like a little girl as I saw it all there. Kismet, Matinee, FaceFX, everything. Obviously you wouldn't be able to build Mass Effect with this, but all the base tools and technology we built on top of is there.

This game being released with these tools brings amazing power to the hands of machinima makers. Yes, you will have a learning curve to overcome. Yes, there will be a lot of technology to digest. And yes, there is very little help and documentation right now out there to help you through. But master this engine and tools, and the medium is yours. (ok, ok, that last part is heavy on the cheese, but you get my point).

So Run, don't walk, and go buy this game. Crack it open and start poking around. You'll be on the crest of the next gen of machinima.

Oh, and buy Mass Effect while your there.



  • At 10:25 PM, Blogger Nick said…

    Took your advice and did just that. Playing through some of Mass Effect, my jaw dropped more time than I could remember - cinematics were wonderful.

    I've actually been looking for a medium to move onto for some time (previously been making machinima with "The Movies"), and thanks to you, I've hopefully found what I'm after. Cheers :)

  • At 9:46 AM, Blogger Mach said…

    Just can't wait to get my Xbox delivered and have a look at Mass Effect and the work you've done.

    The UT3 Tools are great. I had to wait until the special edition came out. It came with additional 20 hours video tutorial (well done by 3dbuzz) for the UT3-Tools. They have a section on matinee (the timeline editor) as well and from time to time the word Machinima was mentioned as well.
    Found some free video tutorials on as well at:

    Another interesting platform for Machinima I'm evaluating right now is Sandbox2 from Crytek. It comes free with the their game Crysis (it is bundled with the demo version :) for free!!! as well).
    This one is huge and impressive as well. Has timelien editor, grafical scriting (like UT3 Kismet) and Face animation tool (like HL2 Faceposer) as well.
    The full SDK will be delivered soon as well.

  • At 12:27 PM, Blogger 3dfilmmaker said…

    Nick, thanks for the great feedback on ME. I'm glad your enjoying it. Ya, once you pick up UT3 expect a pretty big learning curve compared to using 'The Movies'. Its like going from MS Paint to Photoshop. Take your time and you'll get the hang of it.. also take Mach's advice and get the special edition if you can (usually $10 bucks more) for the video's et al.

    Mach, thats an awesome link for the free video tut's. Thanks for sharing! I've heard a bit about the sandbox tool with Crysis. I haven't checked it out but I hope with BioWare's new relationship with EA I might get the opportunity to dig into it more.

  • At 1:56 PM, Blogger Todd said…

    Congrats to you and your team!

  • At 6:06 PM, Blogger klipper said…

    I tell you, mass effect is going to cost me plenty! First the 32" wide screen tv. Then the XBox360. And of course, the game itself! Ka-Ching ;-)

    All kidding aside, I can't wait to get an xbox to play ME. I already have the game, I just need a console.

    And although I'm looking forward to UT3, I do have a concern. Will machinimists still be ensnared in the same EULA as before?

    That's something that haunts me as a middle-aged career shifter. I'm reluctant to invest so much time in a learning curve to make films I can't sell. Admittedly, its incredibly tough to sell films I DO own, but still, you gotta have hope. Even just submitting machinima pieces to non-machinima festivals is tricky.

    Bear in mind that creators who really want to own their work still have to buy or create their own assets - no small feat - so to be hampered by the engine itself is a serious concern.

    That said, I'm going to get UT3 special edition as soon as I can, and a pc to run it on, too.

    Hope I win the lottery!

  • At 7:13 AM, Blogger Luis said…

    Hi, what happened to your blog? You haven't updated in quite a while... I was just starting to get into machinima and found this excellent source of intormation. Good work on Mass Effect, it sure does raise the bar as far as cinematic productions go.
    I was hoping you could give us some insight "from the inside" on some of the Unreal Editor's most obscure features (at least the less documented ones, like FaceFX and the such). Not asking for tutorials, you know :P but at least comment on the capabilities of the released Editor compared to what you guys were working on (as long as that doesn't get you in trouble).
    Again, great job and what a damn good medium to work in. What's going to be your next project? Cheers.

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger davetee said…

    Hello. I am currently working on a ut3 machinima. I'm so happy to find others doing the same. Good luck with all of your projects. Here are some samples



  • At 10:52 AM, Blogger TopTips said…

    My Congratulations , Please Keep up this Great Work Video Game Trailers


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