Simply put, it’s the latest hypest in filmmaking. I honestly, don’t know much about it, but my friend, Skye, sent me a link to a machinima contest sponsored by Intel and I’ve been hearing some buzz about it for the past few months.
In short, it’s a new form of filmmaking using video game technology to create worlds, control actors and camera angles and moves. The new Activision game entitled “The Movies” employs this technology to allow you to choose actors, settings, props, add dialogue, music and then control and record the action in real time. It’s like directing a blockbuster without ever leaving your laptop. And as they say in Hollywood, “this baby has legs!” (Unfortunately, it’s currently P.C. only, so us evolved Mac users can’t check it out. However, there are other machinima tools and software out there.)
Machinima technology has been used for awhile now to do animated storyboards for complex action scenes in big budget movies, but somewhere along the line someone must’ve realized that if they spruce up the graphics and added some more features that the animated storyboards could actually be the movie, although obviously not a Hollywood blockbuster. Nevertheless, several machinima films have actually competed in film festivals.
The good folks over at machinima.org have a great short Flash introduction to machinima at www.machinima.org/whatis.html. And the site machinima.com has a huge array of info, tutorials and streaming and downloadable machinima movies.
Here’s a machinima film by Byrche Wroot entitled “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” that was created using Activision’s “The Movies” game. It’s an excellent example of the storyboarding and storytelling possibilities that machinima has opened up for us digital guerrillas. I don’t know about you but I’m impressed an intrigued.
Could this be the future of filmmaking? Was the poorly received Pacino film, “S1mOne”, in which a producer slips a “virtual actress” into his film unbeknownst to an adoring public, actually onto something?
I don’t have a clue, but my guess is that as technology improves and video game technology becomes more and more life-like (See Xbox 360 or Playstation 3) the possibility is definitely there. I’m not saying that Angelina Jolie is going to be replaced by the “real” Lara Croft anytime soon, but come time for Tomb Raider – Part 5, Angelina might get a run for her money… by a computer-generated character that doesn’t require a trailer or a $20 Million dollar paycheck.
Seriously though, I don’t know that machinima will dramatically change the film game, but I do think it is an exciting new genre that’s worth paying attention to. It’s certainly intriguing and sounds like a great way to practice filmmaking and try out different shots and action sequences without all the real-life expense and hassle. No doubt some of tomorrow’s great directors will have played out their entire masterworks on computer before a single frame is even committed to camera.
Please post a comment if you are down with machinima and let people know about your experience or other machinima filmmaking resources out there. Most interesting development… stay tuned.
In case you don’t click on the comments below, here’s some additional resources from Booklad and Tom Jantol both of Premiere Machinima:
And a few favorite films: