HOW IS MACHINIMA CONTENT PRODUCED?
Machinima can be produced in a couple of ways.
It can be script-driven (suggest using Celtx software to produce script), whereas the cameras, characters, effects etc. are scripted for playback in real-time. While similar to animation, the scripting is driven by events rather than keyframes.
It can also be recorded in real-time within the virtual environment, much like filmmaking (the majority of game-specific Machinima pieces are produced in this fashion).
While both of these approaches have their pros and cons, they are both Machinima-making techniques.
How do you use a computer game to create animation?
A number of ways, actually.
First, if you've ever played a computer game on a network (LAN) at work or seen others play it, each person in the game is using their computer to log into the server computer. Each computer represents one character in the game, usually running around shooting at each other. Everyone playing can see each other's character in real time in the game world, from their characters viewpoint on their monitor. In Machinima, the roles shift: the characters, instead of shooting each other, are actors in the scene, and the server doubles as the camera, recording everything that happens in the virtual world.
Second, people sometimes produce Machinima on their own (not using a LAN) by using tools the game developers publish for a particular game. These tools often allow the end user to create new levels, import new characters and create scripted events. While the game developer produce these tools often to extend the replayability of the game, Machinima developers have used them to create their films. This essentially turns the off-the-shelf game into a small Machinima studio.
Lastly, some teams use a combination of these approaches - recording their custom assets in real-time. These recordings take place at the data level (as opposed to capturing multiple gigabytes of video footage). This recorded data approach yields the most flexibilty as editing at the data level creates a final Machinima that can playback within the game engine itself smoothly for recording.
Where can I watch some Machinima?
There are a number of sites that show some Machinima work. However, the most centralized site for Machinima is Machinima.com. While the site isn't the most polished, the level of information it holds is unrivaled.
Additionally, some quality Machinima works can be found at:
â€¢ Red Vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles â€“ http://www.redvsblue.com
â€¢ The ILL Clan: http://www.illclan.com
â€¢ GameSpy's hosting of the Machinima Awards 2003 nominees: http://www.fileplanet.com/features/machinima_awards/
â€¢ Nanoflix Films - http://www.nanoflix.net
How can I get started creating Machinima?
Both the Academy's site, http://www.machinima.org and Machinima.com carry a wealth of information about Machinima.
In addition, the Academy offers membership, which includes a demo version of Fountainhead Entertainment's Machinimation tool, a great tool to get started with Machinima.
There's two paths to creating Machinima of your own.
The first involves recording the output of your favorite game to video (ala Red Vs. Blue). This approach has you record the output of the game to a video source (camcorder or VCR), and then to capture this footage back into your computer for editing and post-production.
The Academy offers a demo version of Machinimation (by Fountainhead Entertainment) - a great tool for getting started in Machinima - as part of its membership offering (click on Membership to the right for more info).
The other path is bit more ambitious as is involves using an underlying 3D game engine but creating entire new characters and sets (similar to the ILL Clan's and Foutainhead Entertainment's work). Once these assets are created, the production looks very similar to the first path - recording the engine output, capturing the footage into a computer and editing it with editing software.
Naturally, the first is much easier path as it requires less asset development. Machinima.com has a few articles highlighting the recording process:
Machinima.com also hots a number of tutorials on the more advanced Machinima development approach. Go to:
Additionally, a couple of books have been released about Machinima:
The Art of Machinima (Paul Marino, Paraglyph Press, Aug. 2004)- a hands-on book showing you both the artform and the basics of how to get started in your Machinima production.
Machinima : Making Animated Movies in 3D Virtual Environments (Dave Morris, Matt Kelland and Dave Lloyd, Ilex Press, Aug. 2005) - which gives a great overview of the medium and its filmmakers.
Wiley Publishing is pleased to announce â€œMachinima For Dummiesâ€ (ISBN-13: 9780470096918
YOUR FIRST MACHINIMA PROJECT
You can write a script and voice over, but the easiest first project is like a music video. Here is an example:
STEP 1 - Set up your Machinima Studio and recording equipment
You will need a Video Game like Halo, SIMS, Quake, NBA 2007. Pick something you like and know how to use.
You will need to attach a video camera or VCR or recording DVD to the gaming console in order to capture the raw animations and action for post-production assembly into the video with the music sound over.
There are many helpful Machinima sites above to get you started with this and offer tutorials. Here is a very detailed tutorial:
STEP 2 - Pick a song you want the 3D games "actors" to mimic.
You may want to just follow the music video storyboard of the real music video of the music artist you choose. For example one could easily reproduce the Machinima version of "good versus evil" in the music video Kryptonite bt 3 Doors Down.
If a music video doesnt inspire you, then follow the storyline of popular movies called the "Movie Plot Summary" or "Plot Outline".
You can go to www.imdb.com and look for your favorite movie's plot outline.
If that doesnt inspire you, then you may want to go to a scripted Machinima. Check out www.simplyscripts.com or follow you favorite TV commercials and have your 3D animation "actors" play the commercial TV actors selling a product.
STEP 3 - Capture and record the 3D animation actor(s) onto a cam corder or VCR.
STEP 4 - Assemble and edit recorded video clips and selected music and/or voice over.