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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Accelerated learning with Moviestorm

It’s always nice to hear from our customers about the varied ways they find to use Moviestorm.  This popped into our inbox this morning.

Hey everyone, allow me to introduce myself. I’m James Twyman. I own a small film company here in England moonlighting as a freelance Director as well as making my own films.  My latest, “Reparation”, was in fact storyboarded using Moviestorm and I found it a compelling experience that really helped the flow of the production.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about, I’m here to talk about something way more exciting. Something revolutionary that could change the way we teach and learn forever. Put away your note books, throw your pens in the bin, you won’t be needing them anymore, because this could be something very powerful for you.

During the day I teach. And I specialise in something called accelerated learning. This is a form of learning that can help anyone, regardless of their perceived intelligence, learn anything quickly, easily and permanently. Before I go into how you use Moviestorm for this, I’m going to introduce you to the science behind learning. This is important for understanding just why Moviestorm can really help you learn anything.

The Sciency bit.

You may have heard that the brain is split in two. One side (usually the right) deals with memory and intelligence and the other (generally the left) deals with creativity. In order to learn effectively, you have to use both at the same time. Here’s why.

Remember high school? I bet there were plenty of lessons where you can remember someone falling over or doing something funny, but can’t remember what the teacher was going on about. That’s because the funny thing had an emotional reaction to it, so we remember it better. You see, in your brain you’re constantly making connections with what’s happening and the emotions attached to it, and the stronger the emotion, the more vividly you will remember.

Simply put, being creative (making fun images, painting or movie-making) creates emotion. If you’re learning whilst being creative, your brain creates a strong link between the thing you learn and a good emotion, meaning you remember the information because doing so makes you feel good.

What kind of learner are you?

There are three kinds of learner:

1)    Visual (you like bright colourful visual things)
2)    Auditory (sound is what makes you tick, you love it)
3)    Kinesthetic (you can’t sit still doing nothing, you have to keep moving)

Moviestorm caters to all three. For a visual person, it’s all about creating visually interesting content that you will remember. For auditory, it’s the sound design of your films that’ll be most important, and for kinesthetic, just the fact you are actively being creative is enough. But just for your own future use, let’s find out which one you are. This will help you because if you’re learning against your brain’s preferred way, you’ll learn far less.

If I asked you to learn to mend a bike how would you best learn to do it?

A)    If I showed you
B)    If I told you how
C)    If you just tried it.

If you choose A, then you’re visual, if you chose B, then you’re auditory, and if C, you’re kinesthetic.  Use this information wisely, it’ll help you out.

What on earth does this have to do with Moviestorm?

It has everything to do with it. Moviestorm is a creative outlet that combines all three learning styles perfectly. You can take any subject and apply it to your movies to create dynamic study materials for yourself. Not only that, but your brain will retain information as you create. Let’s use some specific examples.


So you have this poem to learn and contextualize but it doesn’t interest you or you don’t get it. Simple - write a script that incorporates the poem and then make a visual representation of the poem, maybe you can narrate the poem over the top or have a character saying it as the story unfolds. Use interesting cinematography to bring what’s on the page to life and think about your use of sound and music. You’ll quickly find your knowledge of the poem grows.  Same with books. Which chapters do you need to study… adapt them into a film to help you understand them better.


What I would do here is create an interview. I would make myself in character creation and a host to a TV show called Geniuses. I would then act out being an expert at the subject and explain to the “dumb” audience the concepts I’m trying to learn. It really will help.


So you’re learning French and the unit is “in the restaurant”. build a restaurant set, make some characters and make a film of them having the conversation you need to learn. Maybe add subtitles for extra effect.


You’re studying the battle of Hastings. Why not re-enact it with Moviestorm. OK, there are no arrows but hey… use your imagination!

The list goes on. I can’t even begin to imagine the great ways you could use Moviestorm to aid your learning, and I’m excited to see what you come up with.

Thank you so much for your time and I really hope you found this piece both interesting and useful.

Keep smiling,

James Twyman

Shameless Plug: As I mentioned before I am making a no budget film called “Reparation”. We have a trailer and a load of pictures on our facebook group.  I would be so grateful if you could join the group, check out the trailer, leave a comment and pass it on to friends to help support the six months hard work we’ve done.

(3) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MovieGifts Facebook app launched

We’ve been working away in the background for a little while on new ways to integrate Moviestorm with other bits of the social Web, and looking for new ways to promote and distribute the very best of your Moviestorm films.

Today, we’re launching the first of our MovieGifts apps on Facebook. This one features the ten winners of the 30-second movies competition we ran a couple of months ago. Just pick one of these superb little movies, pick some Facebook friends, and send it to them. If you’ve been on Facebook for any length of time, you know how these things work by now!

Future MovieGifts collections, to be launched in the next few weeks, will include comedy, Sci-Fi, and music.

So, if you’re on Facebook, please send a movie, tell your friends, make the creators famous, and promote Moviestorm, all with just a few clicks. Thanks, and many congratulations to our worthy winners!


(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, June 22, 2009

E4 10-second sting competition

UK TV Channel E4 is once again launching a competition to make a 10-second sting and get it shown on TV.

They say, “we want you to chuck us your funnest, funniest, weirdyest, mischievous-est, cool-est, dumbest, cleverest, randomest, most nonsensical-est Telly stuff that yer got,” which seems like suitable territory for some of you guys.  Even shorter than our 30-second competition, this should really give you a chance to show what you can do in next to no time.  Entries must be submitted by 4pm on Tuesday 25th August 2009.

Full rules here, and to help you out, Chris has made a handy little Moviestorm addon of the E4 logo (which, unsurprisingly, you need to include in your entries).

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, June 19, 2009

Midsummer Moviestorm

This weekend is the summer solstice, which means that we’ll all be out in our gardens celebrating the longest day of the year with BBQ and beer.  Or, equally likely, sitting indoors hoping the rain will stop.  So, as we reach the half-way point of the year, where have we got to since our last update?

Well, the main bit of good news is that Moviestorm 1.1.6 is going through testing on schedule, and should be released before the end of the month. This will pave the way for several new content packs over the summer.  These will include a range of customisable hairstyles, pyros, explosions and flame effects, and several packs of royalty-free music that you can use in your Moviestorm productions.  There will also be an updated modder’s workshop, which is much, much easier and quicker to use.

Test movie showcasing some experimental pyro code, by Johnnie.

As well as all that good stuff, we’ve announced several new features in development.  On the dev blog, we’ve been running a series of previews of some visual effects filters we’re working on.  So far, we’ve shown off nine out of the eleven we’ve got in prototype: night vision, sepia, black & white, red boost, half-tone, negative, glow, bloom and everyone’s favourite, camera shake.  Come back next week to see the last two! 

We also showed you a first look at some new styling for Moviestorm, more in keeping with the way we’re presenting the Web site, and much less Sims-y.  CEO Jeff Zie has been taking a break from paperwork (and answering the phones) and has reverted to his roots in graphic design.  And, while we were at it, we gave our MySpace and YouTube sites a bit of a make-over as well, so they at least use the same colours as the Moviestorm Web site.

We’ve also welcomed more new people to the Moviestorm team: Dave Holloway joins the ranks of Daves, replacing Daves Pajak and Thatcher in the QA department, and Paul Kelley is now working alongside Chris in the Art Department.  We’ve also had more work experience students experiencing the joy of regular office hours with us, which is, we hope, fun for them and useful for us. We also have James Barlow stepping into the role of finance officer.  However, we’ve had to bid a fond farewell to our long-serving receptionist, secretary, PA and general all-round useful person Tiffany, which means we have to answer the phones ourselves, and we keep running out of milk because we forget to go to the shops.

Best videos

If you enjoy Sci-FI, have a look at the Sci-Fi playlist we’ve created.  We also kicked off a playlist featuring the first episodes of several Moviestorm series, so you can sample them and see which ones you like.  We’re currently seeking nominations for the Best Comedy playlist - come and tell us what you want to see on the forums!

The three standout videos of the last month are:

Cafe Insomniac - episode 2
As always,the camerawork, editing and lighting are first-rate, and the look mellowhardy gets out of Moviestorm is quite incredible. On top of that, there’s great voice acting, amazing sound, and he’s squeezed strong emotional performances out of the characters. And, of course, it’s a great story and a great script. This raises the bar yet again. (If you haven’t seen it, watch Episode 1 first, though.)

Melvin meets a Girl
This is the start of what promises to be an entertaining comedy series aimed primarily at World of Warcraft players, by Moviestorm newcomer myrtheus.  In this opening ep, Melvin, a WoW Vlogger meets a girl online and talks about it.  If you enjoy this, catch the followup, Melvin Joins a Raid.

The Devil Made Me Twitter
Twitter seems to be flavour of the month amongst journalists, bloggers, celebrities, marketing gurus and just everyone else.  Jim Stedman‘s Moviestorm debut piece catches it perfectly.  Essential viewing for all those who love or loathe twitter!

And lastly, a friendly wave to our friends in the Wan Smolbag theatre in Vanuatu.  We’re very proud to be supporting this worthy cause in such a remote and underdeveloped part of the world, and we look forward to seeing what they make of Moviestorm.


(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, June 05, 2009

Moviestorm - sounds good!

Earlier this week, we alluded somewhat cryptically to a mystery third content pack that we’d be releasing after Moviestorm 1.1.6 goes live.  Now I have to hang my head in shame, and confess to you all that we lied.

We will, in fact, be releasing four additional content packs. 

We’ve teamed up with award-winning musicians Bob and Barn, who’ve been providing music for games, film, television and multimedia projects for nearly ten years.  They’ve done music for Broken Sword III, Medievil, Bionicle, Frogger, and Primal, as well as commercials for, among others, McDonalds.

Here’s what they say about themselves:

If you’re new to the whole ‘Bob & Barn experience’, I wouldn’t be surprised if your first question was ‘just who the hell are Bob & Barn’ and maybe the second would be ‘just what kind of name of a company IS Bob & Barn’. Well, let me answer these 2 important issues. Bob & Barn are the nicknames of Paul ‘Bob’ Arnold and Andrew ‘Barn’ Barnabas, a couple of affable chaps who’ve been writing music professionally and involved in all manner of sound related paraphernalia since 1990. Formerly heads of audio, music directors etc. of various emminent institutions - Sony being one of them, they left the convenience of corporations and formed a ‘sound company for the new millennium’ in 2001. With a heady combination of passion, single mindedness in increasing recognition and importance of video game soundtracks, tech savvy, business acumen and a keen sense of fun and “not taking ourselves too seriously” they’ve managed to carve an egg shaped niche into the heart of the media world.

They’re providing four packs of music that you can use in your Moviestorm movies, completely royalty-free and fully licensed.  The 275+ tracks range from full orchestral pieces to electronica, jazz, funk, TV jingles, and more, suitable for many different types of movie. We’ll be shipping these packs a few weeks after the release of Moviestorm 1.1.6, which is slated for the end of June.  More details on exact release dates and pricing to follow.

But that’s enough words. Listen to the music.


(2) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Moviestorm in Vanuatu

Moviestorm helps island nation towards development goals.

Moviestorm is very proud to be supporting Wan Smolbag Theatre, based in the Pacific islands of Vanuatu.  It’s always been one of our aims to bring moviemaking to kids who would otherwise never have the chance to experience this, and the youth centre there deals with some of the poorest kids in the world.  Vanuatu is one of the UN’s least developed countries (LDCs), and most parents can’t afford to send their kids to school.  The Wan Smolbag Theatre is a non-governmental organization which uses drama, film and radio to inform, raise awareness and encourage public discussion on a range of contemporary health, lifestyle, environment and governance issues.  They’re supported by development organizations worldwide, including AusAID, NZAID, OXFAM, the International Women’s Development Agency, the United Nations Development Programme and the UK’s Department for International Development.

The youth centre has a computer training lab and they are about to start using Moviestorm to teach the kids to make movies. We’ve donated a number of content packs to help out.  It’s only a small gesture, but it could make a huge difference.

Over the coming months, they’ll be showing us what they produce, and giving us an idea of what it’s like to live in such a far-flung part of the world.  We wish them every success, and we look forward to seeing exciting stuff from them soon.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, June 01, 2009

Machinima films at Dragon*Con

Dragon*Con will be running machinima screenings for the the third year running, and are looking for submissions.  Dragon*Con is held in Atlanta, GA over the weekend of Labor Day (September 4-September 7, 2009).

Full submission guidelines are here.  Christina, who’s running it, tells me they’re mainly looking for lightweight, funny and entertaining short films, rather than the more arty or serious pieces. 

Submission guidelines for the machinima portion of the Dragon*Con Film Festival

- You do not need to be present for your video to be selected and shown.

- Please submit videos that are 15 minutes or less in length. Though longer ones may be included, they will face stiffer competition (a single 15 minute piece would have to win out against three very good five minute pieces, for example). An engaging first episode of a series (or, if it would make sense to the audience, even a mid-series episode) is a perfectly acceptable submission.

- Please keep in mind that the audience may be unfamiliar with the game in which the machinima was made and there will be no opportunities to ‘introduce’ your video - it must stand on it’s own. Successful candidate videos will entertain and engage the audience without requiring knowledge of the game world in question (a clear and engaging story line, an entertaining music video, etc.). Videos made to show how quickly you and your friends can kill a boss and/or how effectively you have mastered the particular game’s mechanics are unlikely to be selected.

- Except in unusual circumstances, only one video per author will be selected for the main screening though you can submit more than one for review. It will simplify the process, however, if you submit the single video which you think is your best work.

- You may instead choose to officially submit your video to the Dragon*Con Film Festival proper, but then it MUST satisfy additional requirements (and be sure to review the FAQ).

- You are welcome to use an existing machinima video you have created OR you can create a machinima video specifically for the Con (though keep in mind submission does not automatically guarantee it will be shown - please see the previous suggestions for likely candidates as well as the links below for selections from prior years).

- The deadline for submissions is July 30th. You may nominate another machinima video but direct contact with the author will be required to obtain their permission before allowing it for submission.

I’m hoping to be there again myself, taking part in a Q&A about machinima, along with some other machinima stalwarts.  They’re still looking for panellists, so feel free to put yourself forward!

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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