Hey everyone! It is a new year and with a new year comes new opportunities. Instead of jumping into twenty eleven, I wanted to update you on our whereabouts in 2010:
We had the opportunity to make a machinima about Gronstedt Group’s new hurricane simulation training sim for their client, CUNY:
We then teleported- to a new Virtual World! We made 6 educational videos about Congress to be shared with students in schools around the country. I can’t reveal too much about this, but I will instead be able to share the final cuts in a few weeks- coming soon! Featured videos include the Rotunda, the Capitol Building, House of Representatives, and the Senate.
I also got to work with a medical startup in the ‘burgh. I’m really interested in seeing where the medical world takes machinima, so this was a great opportunity that could extend into some training videos on products. Their “avatar” movie as they liked to call it was presented in place of a Powerpoint, which proved to be successful.
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Going to Second Life’s 7th Birthday Fiesta makes me feel a peculiar way.. like peeling off (ok.. going into inventory and detaching) my flip flops and sinking my feet into the grass to people watch all the cool hipsters and their artwork. Every year, Second Life celebrates its birthday by offering a free plot of land to every artist, engineer, scientist, videographer, etc.- basically if you are part of a collaborative effort, you’re in! With that land, you can anything as long as it stays mature and reasonable, but you get a limited number of prims (basically, there’s only so many “objects” you can make on this land). In fact, the prim amount is so low that it’s hard to sacrifice. Sometimes, you have to go a little more simple with your exhibit. Ironically, I see a lot of people going all out too– What is their secret sauce??
Anyways, trying to view all the exhibits is overwhelming! A popular blogger, Dusan Writer once said something along the lines of this, that Second Life is the largest collaborative, creative venture on the planet. Where else can all these different types of people come together and show off their talents? You can visit each booth, and a lot of times you get greeted by the actual artist and they try to give you a lot of free stuff. I went a little paparazzi on the thing today and tried to capture my favorite booths. I’ll share a few snaps with some select words– enjoy!!
At times, puppeteering an avatar for a machinima shoot feels a lot like you’re a mad scientist probing at your Frankenstein creation. Suddenly, your creation comes alive and it looks gorgeous on the exterior, but then it stands up, takes a couple steps, and you realized you’ve created a clumsy disaster.
The standard Second Life animations that come with a newbie avatar are very short of impressive. Their feet kind of slide across the floor, they needlessly spread their legs apart with every position. With machinima, this can turn heads away to tune in elsewhere. How can the audience relate to the characters in the story when those characters use their hands in a dorky typing motion to communicate?
Do filmmakers really think about every single detail and nuance in their films? Or does the film’s brilliance happen with social praise?
One of the biggest criticisms of machinima is that it looks too familiar, perhaps too familiar. “Isn’t that the Sims?” 🙂 “Oh.. that’s that Second Life thing, isn’t it?”
Ok ok, I see what you’re saying. Sometimes it looks like its 3 frames a second, all the avatars look like newbs, and a simple breathing, idle animation makes an avatar look like they have a “rocking back and forth” disorder. So, I got inspired to write this article about how YOU CAN AVOID MAKING IT LOOK UNNATURAL! I showed a dear friend of mine some samples of my fav. all-star machinima and she refused to believe it was Second Life, “Are you kidding? I could go spend 5k on a good computer right now and I would NEVER see that!” The thing is, the best machinima that’s out there is winning animation festivals and completely turning heads- and most of it doesn’t look like Second Life! I myself have been guilty of starring at Ill Clan’s machinima and muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me! They must have some modified version of Second Life on speed.” After working with the good guys at the Clans for a couple weeks as their newb machinimatographer and also doing some projects for other cool folks in my web, I learned a few techniques and secrets. What’s the secret, exactly? It’s just a matter of “tricking” the eye. Good old camera tricks that will never get old! And that my friends, is it!
I pledge that for the next couple weeks, I’ll make this into a series of ways how to make a machinima look more realistic. This week, I’ll start with style. Other weeks I’ll talk about character animations. For now, this will give you a good start!
So I’m sitting here in an open-air coffee place on one of the first warm days of the season being a negative fart and probably putting everyone around me in a bad mood. So, what’s my problem? The above definition of machinima is too specific! I think this definition doesn’t grasp the large-scale image, the “what could be” of machinima. So what if we looked at this from a different approach and re-defined the definition to include something more broad? Could we include the idea of global in the definition? Keep reading– I have an exercise for everyone at the end.. I hope we can get some good responses going!
When shooting machinima, sometimes you run into a few technical walls. Not to fret— I ripped my hair out over these issues for you already and have come up with some solutions. 😀
Issue: When I’m filming, an avatar started to edit something and white stars shoot out of their hand. Help!
Solution: Turn on your advanced menu. Click advanced- Rendering- Types- Particles and let go. Particles will no longer be seen, including those annoying star things. Careful though, it will also turn off any effects such as a campfire, fog, etc.
In the real world, live shoots are intense. You got a bunch of union guys on every corner of the room with these big robotic moving arm things, while another guy is in the back surrounded by what looks like bullet proof glass configuring a huge switchboard, which essentially switches from one camera view to another. Believe me, I was in that scenario. And my large robotic arm knocked a screaming teenage girl on the head during a heart-throb JPop concert (woops). In machinima, none of this is the case. Well, hypothetically it is but it’s a lot less complex and show-y.
If you are planning a live event and want machinima coverage, I URGE you to consider two individuals on 2 cameras. Planned well, you can get an assortment of nice shots that wouldn’t have been possible because with one camera, you’re just so focused on getting the conservative, front-on shot that you overlook the glorious moments that you can experiment with. Last week I shot a graduation ceremony in Second Life for Manchester School of Business and worked with a very talented machinimatographer named Cisko. What I got back from him was GOLDEN footage and a little extra sauce for the editing stage (he even had time to get some neat artsy shots of the venue and other shots that are low priority but sometimes end up being the most memorable footage).
I’m been networking with a teacher from Temple University’s Japan campus about his very very intriguing class project in Second Life. The students have all been participating on a project that will launch hip hop artist Legrand’s career– in the virtual world! This project is appropriately called, linsl, or Legrand in Second Life.
I met with Jean-Julien the other day about this project. He says Japan’s music scene is really unique. If you aren’t big somewhere else first, you won’t get big in Japan. In other words, it’s not really a place where musicians get discovered that easily. So, by launching his career in Second Life and cushioning him there with some good publicity, the Japanese crowd would potentially pick up on his talent.
The students will be responsible for everything in the launch- including pre-preduction for the music video (storyboard and planning), the filming, and the post-production, which is something one of the video students are taking on. The class will also take on distribution for the artist, promoting him in Second Life, which a lot of legwork is already done for them with SL’s active musician scene.
Article by Ariella Furman, originally posted on PixelsandPolicy.com
The world of business embodies many different languages. Machinima is just one of those languages, that when combined with a brand, can produce limitless possibilities. When I first entered Virtual worlds, I started out by making a documentary about a Second Life Amazon tribe for my film class for fun. This work was noticed by a few solution providers whom I teamed up with. After working with some great brands, I began to follow them out of curiosity. Why machinima?
After analyzing the many uses these brand managers had for their products I realized, how valuable machinima is for business, in no particular order: