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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dracula Spectacular

imageAmrit Sonya Bains is a scriptwriter based in London. She decided against formal education, and opted instead for a mixture of workshops, seminars and other courses. “I don’t believe imagination can be taught,” she says. “I love visiting all kinds of places around the world, making friends, listening to stories – some of which I write as screenplays. I think of myself as an entrepreneur, explorer and storyteller.” She rattles off a long list of conferences and events that she’s attended in the US and in Britain. “All in all, I’ve spent about four years attending workshops and working with several script development consultants. I guess that’s equivalent to a four year Master’s in screenwriting!”

Amrit has a strong interest in comedy of all sorts, but her deep passion is world cinema stories that provide a platform of understanding among different cultures, and she is particularly concentrating on hard hitting films with a social message.  She recently founded her own company, Anteros Entertainment, to showcase her work as both writer and producer.

Her most recent work is a short previsualization for a planned live action feature film, Dracula Spectacular. This came out of an assignment for a performing arts course, where they were asked to create an improvised melodrama stage production about vampires. “It a hilarious experience,” she laughs. “I volunteered to play Ugo the henchman, because no other actor/actress could bear the thought of looking so ugly! I thought the concept was incredibly funny and would make a brilliant movie, so I wrote the feature screenplay. The current trend of vampire films, shows, and books is but one of many waves that have existed over the past three hundred years. Whatever the reason, we continue to be fascinated with the concept of vampires, bloodlust and eternal life.”

In order to pitch Dracula Spectacular to potential producers, Amrit decided to create an animated short film to show the concept. “Producers are always too busy to read a screenplay, plus there is always the issue of unsolicited material unless you have an agent. It makes perfect sense to send a video link, and that way there is no limit to how many producers you can pitch to.”

Initially, however, Amrit couldn’t find anyone to create the animation she needed within her budget. Then she discovered Moviestorm at the 2011 London Screenwriters Festival, and found out that they could make the film for her.  “Once I had sent them the script it was all systems go. It was great to know that Moviestorm were just as excited about my project as I was. I believe that it benefits to have more than one imaginative mind and perspective to create something great. Alex Gowland designed the sets and characters, putting a lot of work into the detail.”

The project lasted six weeks from receipt of script to the finished film, and was structured into design, alpha, beta and release phases to allow Amrit to take control of the creative direction, from character and set design, through to cameras and final editing. All in all, the animation in Moviestorm took less than 15 man days, and the new shaving and teeth-brushing assets that were required for the plot were also released to the Moviestorm community as a free bonus pack, reducing the cost to Amrit by 50%.  Amrit was overjoyed with the results.

Amrit continues, “My advice to other screenwriters would be to consider Moviestorm as an alternative method to verbal pitching. When you only have 2 to 5 minutes to impress a producer and you nervously talk incoherent nonsense, end up devastated and praying that the producer never remembers you – then think of Moviestorm.  In the long run you may save yourself time, money and shame.”

Of course it wasn’t all plain sailing. Moviestorm cannot be everything to everybody out of the box, so there will often be the need for technial tricks or new assets to deliver the script writer’s creative vision. This time the challenges included creating characters with different heights, Ugo’s hump, and the werewolf’s body texture. However, that was part of the fun for all concerned. “Alex always found a technical solution and somehow made it work to create the desired effect,” she grins.

Amrit has ambitious plans for the future. “I intend to contact Ben Stiller’s production company in the hope that he fancies himself with fangs and a cape. I think it’s a great look for him – hotter than Zoolander. Meanwhile, I shall humbly continue to do what I am most passionate about – writing stories!”

More info
Moviestorm production service

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Special offer - half price restaurant dining!

Special offer - today only - Get the Restaurant Dining pack for just 1000MSP instead of 2000MSP!

Treat your characters to an elegant meal in one of our customisable contemporary restaurant interiors, featuring a full menu of food and drinks, and a range of animations for the perfect dining scene.
It’s just what you need for filming classic scenes from movies such as When Harry Met Sally, Reservoir Dogs, Goodfellas or just planning your wedding seating.

Need more points?

Top up your Moviestorm Points here.  Points start at $9.99 for 1000 points - and if you buy more points, you’ll save more!

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Special offer - Construction Site pack for $2 or less!

Special offer - today only - Get the Construction Site pack for just 200MSP instead of 500MSP!

This pack contains a variety of props and costumes to recreate a construction site scene in your movies. There’s a back-hoe type digger, a cement mixer, scaffolding, a skip, bricks and blocks, safety fencing and piles of sand which you can drop into your set like any other Moviestorm asset. For your characters, you’ll find overalls for both male and females with an option to add high-vis waistcoats and, of course, hard hats that can be tinted depending on your requirements.

This pack isn’t available in any theme bundle or in Moviestorm Max.

Need more points?

Top up your Moviestorm Points here.  Points start at $9.99 for 1000 points, so a 200 MSP pack will cost you just $2 - and if you buy more points, you’ll save more!

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, March 23, 2012

Special offer - Moviestorm Max 50% off

This weekend ONLY: use coupon code MARMAX to get 50% off your purchase of Moviestorm Max.

That buys you the full Moviestorm animation suite, plus 39 content packs, plus the Modder’s Workshop, and you’ll get a saving of over $110 on the regular price (or £75 / €100)!

Offer valid today, Saturday & Sunday (and if you’re quick, Monday morning before we get into work).

(Does not apply to rentals - only to purchase.)

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Special offer - Filters 03 at 60% off!

Our third Filters Pack contains a collection of dynamic effects to really bring your films to life. Distort your footage with the Glassy Distortion or Frosted Glass effects, or increase the sense of depth with the Fish-eye and Radial Blur filters. In addition, four lens vignettes allow you to really close in on your action (binoculars and sniper sights) and you can stylise your shots with the Psychedelia and Emboss presets. Finally, you can now overexpose your clips or add a subtle gradient tint and there’s even a ‘Toon filter that you can drop straight into the timeline.

Now only 200 MSP instead of 500 MSP: offer lasts today only!

Click here to buy

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New educational editions

There are now two new educational editions of Moviestorm, including new packs and updated application code.

Moviestorm Unlimited is designed for older students, while Moviestorm Junior is intended for students under 13. The Junior edition excludes mature content such as drugs and violence.

For more information see the education section of the Web site.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, March 12, 2012

48hr Film Project offers $3000 top prize for machinima

It’s not often that machinima creators get the chance to win big prizes, but this year’s 48 Hour Film Project has finally recognized how important this medium is.  The top prize of $3000 will go to the best film completely created in a single weekend. Moviestorm films have won twice before, so we’re hoping for a good showing once again.

This year’s contest is being held in partnership with Australia’s Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and JMC Academy in March, and there’s an additional local prize of $1000, open exclusively to the South Western Sydney Region Machinima filmmakers. In another great coup for the contest, Tony Dyson, creator of Star Wars iconic robot R2-D2, will be heading the judging team.

Here’s how it works.

On Friday, March 30 at 7pm teams will get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, that must be included in there film.  By Sunday, April 1, the movie must be complete and uploaded by 7pm.
Each completed film is guaranteed a screening at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 April 2012 in Australia, and in Second Life in the following week.

The best films will also be screened at the International Championships held in the USA, and the winner of that gets to have their film screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
Registration for the competition is $48, Screening session admission is FREE. More details on www.48machinima.com

Good luck, everyone!

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, February 24, 2012

Moviestorm 1.5.2

Over the next week, we’re hoping to bring you a new upgrade to Moviestorm called 1.5.2, which has a host of fixes and features that we hope will enhance your Moviestorm experience.

Firstly, we have found and fixed a few performance issues, which means that Moviestorm can be used harder and for longer. These improvements have affected the entire program, right from loading your movies to set design, right through directing, camerawork, the cutting room and publishing.

We’ve also added some extra functionality to the shadows, so that you can specify a 2048 shadow map or even a 4096 map (up from the original 1024), meaning sharper, more accurate shadows for those of you with supporting hardware. Also, there are a few user interface tweaks, that will help you find and edit your commands with greater ease.

Most notably, new characters don’t appear in the Dressing Room in their underwear anymore. While we originally thought that this was the ideal starting point when defining a character, we’ve had a few disapproving comments made about how inappropriate this was for our younger users. These costumes are still available, but the user has to consciously select them – default characters now appear in jeans and t-shirts.

Another little “tweak” that has been added is a “Centre View” command, so that if you get lost navigating around the virtual environment, you can quickly return to the centre of the stage. For seasoned Moviestormer’s we know this isn’t that great an issue, but we really think it will help users that are new to the program.

All in all, 1.5.2 will be more stable, more user friendly, and more robust than the previous version – and did I mention that the update will be coming next week?! Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a new message of the day in your launcher, and please let us know how you get on with 1.5.2!

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, February 13, 2012

Palms of the Year 2011

“The Movies FR” - the French-speaking community for Moviestorm, The Movies and Muvizu - proudly presents “Palms of the Year 2011”!


This is our annual celebration of the best French movies directed in 2011. The concept changed a bit since our previous “Palms of 20”. We had 3 seasonal contests (winter was too hard^^) in 2011 with ten prizes each (so 3x10=30 nominations), therefore our special jury had to select the very best movie for each category:

Best 2011 scenery and costumes : Arbalète - from YÄLROK
Best 2011 direction : Arbalète - from YÄLROK
Best 2011 editing : Limbo - from Tarantineur
Best 2011 soundtrack : Flow - from Laviv42
Best 2011 script : Eldorado - from Gilga
Best 2011 character : Huit petits gags - from Code52
Best 2011 dialogues : Huit petits gags - from Code52
Best 2011 voice performance : Huit petits gags - from Code52
2011 special prize of the public : Hatred - from Johnny Striker
Best 2011 movie : Limbo - from Tarantineur

We also directed (with Moviestorm) a one hour show (split into two parts) with several directors as guests which revealed the winners. Tons of gifts were offered, such as 5000 MSP (thanks to our partner Moviestorm), unique and exclusive mods for Moviestorm and the Movies, DVDs, movie tickets, a Smartbox (travel voucher), etc.

What a great year it was!


Watch the winning entries and more:
Video show (2 parts, in French only)
Awards ceremony on The Movies FR
Winning movie, Limbo, from director Tarantineur, (partly made with Moviestorm, an experimental film about soul)

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Jorge Campos - act3scene24

imageJorge Campos, better known to the machinima community as act3scene24, was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s of Mexican descent, and has an amazing array of voices, which he uses to get freelance voice acting work. He also writes and makes short films, when he’s not helping out with his father’s watch and jewelry repair shop.

Although he started a university course in Information Technology, Business and Communications, Jorge’s real passion is story-telling. “After growing up to want to be a ninja and a baseball player,” he grins, “my passion was always story-telling. I wanted to write and direct in Hollywood. I got serious about it when I was about 15 years old and started writing stories in play-format because I didn’t know the screenplay format. When I was about 16, I started buying How-To books to learn writing screenplays and story format even though storytelling for me, was natural. One of my favorite memories growing up was about 3rd or 4th grade. An assignment was to write a book report about a certain book. I didn’t know what the term “book report” was so I tried to write a book instead, assuming that’s what it was, so I wrote about a 9-page story. Even though I did the completely wrong thing, the teacher gave me an A anyway!”

Jorge started making films in his teenage years. “The first things I made that I was serious about were with my brother. I saved up money to buy a G5 Canon video camera before HD was out - it cost me thousands but it was my passion. A couple years later, I saved up for a more professional Canon XL1 camera with a steady cam and a pretty cool lens yellow-tinted filter. We did a short film I did called “Domino, Foo’!” inspired by the Pixar short “Geri’s Game”. It was about a gangster in a suit and cane and slicked back hair playing chess with a seemingly crazy person with a Cat-In-The-Hat type hat and a dirty stained shirt and it turned out that by the end, it was the same guy playing dominoes with himself. I liked that one. Next we shot a black and white mockumentary inspired by a mockumentary called “Where’s Marlowe”. It was completely improvised and my brother was the star. I was the camera man and also the interviewer, so you heard my voice throughout asking him questions and commenting. Although it was coming out very well, we didn’t get to finish it because it got late in the day and my brother had to go back to college the next day in Santa Cruz where he lived at the time. I edited what we had together though, and it was fun, though seemingly headed nowhere and incomplete - the problem with improv, I guess!”

Even at this stage, Jorge was yearning to find his own unique forms of expression. “I hate the word “format” because it restricts creativity to me, because the “format” is always in the back of your mind and you start thinking things like, ‘oh no, I need to change it up now because the books and lecturers say so!’ That’s why I chose my username - act3scene24. The format says there should be something like 12 to 16 scenes in a screenplay’s 3rd act. I wanted to create a username as kind of an ‘F you’ to the Hollywood people!”

(Warning: adult language)

In about 2004, Jorge experimented with the game “The Movies” as a filmmaking medium. “I was hoping I’d be able to have creative freedom to make whatever I wanted. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true.” A few years later, he was idly looking for movie-making programs, and ended up on tmunderground.com. “They showed movies made with The Movies (which I knew I didn’t want anymore), iClone, Moviestorm, and some programs that don’t exist anymore. iClone cost money which I didn’t have, bit I saw that the base version of Moviestorm was free. I started making these little Christmas shorts, and my series The Clarks was born.”

Since then, he’s made over 50 movies with Moviestorm. “I love the creative freedom you have with the program. I love how quick it is to work with and learn. I’m a big writer of dialogue, always have been, so it’s perfect for me. I started with characters just standing and talking and using the Moviestorm’s audio recording, to having my own mic, using the footage from Moviestorm and using After Effects to make it look how I want.”

There’s a huge diversity in Jorge’s work. So far, he’s done comedies, Westerns, and movies tackling social issues. He’s reluctant to talk too much about his own work, but when pushed, he admits to some favorites. “I like “anonymous” because it gets personal with people with drug and/or alcohol problems and “Thawing In December” because it closely resembles how I feel like my near future would be. But I also like “The Big Event”, “Ad Hominem Attack” because the writer of the original short story personally let me make it and posted it on his website after it was done. His name is Jordan Harper and he’s a writer for the TV show “The Mentalist” which I love. Another I like a lot is “The Bone Orchard” because I liked the atmosphere I was able to make without having much for western movies in Moviestorm. Making a lot of movies is just like anything in life. Practice makes you better, learn more things, makes you want to be better, and you learn your limits. I know what I can do. I’m not patient enough to be a Phil Rice - everything he makes is so professional and he pays great attention to detail with everything within it. But I’m me, I have my own style. I like the look I’ve made in things like “The Big Event”, “The Bone Orchard”, and even “Truth & Lovers”, written and co-starring the very talented Allie Manasco, which was the first and only Moviestorm movie I made using the cel shader.”

Jorge is a regular in the various 48-hour film challenges, and has become an expert at turning out finished films in record speed - often despite major hardware or software disasters! “I love doing those because when I was making movies the first year, I was making things very fast and I knew I could, because Moviestorm is the perfect tool for it. They give me motivation with the pressure and it makes me feel good. Also, I’ve suffered from insomnia for years, so it makes it that much easier for me!”

Jorge’s been quiet for a while, but he’s got several projects in development. “What I’ve been writing lately is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type Clarks movie. I plan on making all the scenes. And whenever someone has a choice to make, they click on the video link of their choice and so on. I’m also working on a crime drama called “California Soul” that follows the stories of several people in different dilemmas that end up being connected in some ways, inspired by 70’s soul music and crime movies.”

More info
Jorge on Vimeo | Twitter | Tumblr | Flickr | YouTube | Moviestorm

(3) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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