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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Previsualization Society

For some time now, we’ve been going on about how machinima will one day have a vital role to play in pre-visualisation, so we were really excited today to read about the launch of The Previsualization Society, based in, of course, Los Angeles.

The Previsualization Society is “a non-profit, interdisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of previsualization (“previs”). Founded by previs practitioners for those who produce or use previs, the Previsualization Society will build a community to maximize the current and future capabilities and contributions of the previs medium. The Previsualization Society includes members from many different disciplines and markets, just as the previs process does, and is already comprised of a number of charter members from the motion picture industry. The Previsualization Society will focus on producing and publishing information and resources to promote effective previs through key activities such as promoting standards, education, workflow development and practical knowledge exchange.”

As David Cohen noted in his article for Variety today, “though previs is now a widely accepted production process, there hasn’t been a widely accepted definition of it. Most have been content with the “I know it when I see it” approach.”  In fact the first thing the society had to agree was how to spell the word (previz or previs - anyone remember the machinima/machinema arguments?). They ended up recognising that previs is not a tool or a product but a “collaborative process that generates preliminary versions of shots or sequences, predominantly using 3D animation tools and a virtual environment.”  That’s a perfect niche for machinima to fit into. It’s not final footage, so the imperfections of machinima are more than forgivable, especially if the trade-off is high speed and low cost development.  And 3D animation in a virtual environment? That’s us!

The founders go on to note that previs shouldn’t be lumped under pre-production, production or post, as it can be used anywhere along the chain. That’s another huge leap forward in thinking. I’ve used machinima as a previs tool on the set of a live action movie. The director and editor can try out ideas, and can see rough edited footage faster than the crew can re-rig lights and dolly track. I haven’t used it in post, but I’m sure there are ways it could be useful.

With previs suddenly becoming a respected and recognised part of the film-making process, now could be the opportunity many machinimators have been waiting for to transfer their skills from the amateur to the professional arena. Not all machinima skills will be useful, of course, and those working in Second Life, iClone, and, of course, Moviestorm (not forgetting the late Antics 3D), will find themselves in a much stronger position than those working in WoW or other game engines. 

This could be one of the most important developments in machinima’s evolution from frag movies to accepted animation process.

(3) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hardy Capo on Studio Beyond

One of the outstanding machinima directors whose work is being showcased at tonight’s Cambridge Film Festival machinima screening is Hardy Capo. His films include the remarkable CHANEL Untold and the series Cafe Insomniac. Here he is talking about those films, and about machinima in general, to Studio Beyond.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Welcome - by Hardy Capo

What is machinima? Well, the chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you know already.  But rarely has it been expressed as eloquently as this.  This short film, shot with Moviestorm, magnificently shows you what machinima is all about, and what it’s good for, in a fraction over two minutes.

Welcome from Hardy Capo on Vimeo.

We’re not sure quite how we managed to miss this little gem from Hardy Capo (aka mellowhardy), creator of Cafe Insomniac, Chanel Untold and other masterpieces. It’s been out for about five months, but completely slipped under our radar until Overman stumbled over it on Vimeo

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, September 21, 2009

Machinima at the Cambridge Film Festival, Friday 25 Sept

Machinima: Programming with Light

Machinima is a form of digital filmmaking that uses sets and characters from videogames or specialist tools like Moviestorm to generate computer animations, either in real time using multiple players to drive avatars, or by setting up scenes and action character by character, calling ‘action’ by clicking a mouse button.

Following the success of our presentation of the best in Machinima at the 2008 Cambridge Film Festival, this year we bring you new films from a range of directors exploring the capabilities of a medium which may lack the detail and dynamic range of high-end CGI, but offers enormous opportunities for creative filmmaking.

The Machinima programme will be introduced by Hugh Hancock, guru of the Machinima movement, creator of one of the first Machinima feature films, BLOODSPELL, and co-author with Johnnie Ingram of Machinima for Dummies.

The programme will include films by renowned Machinima directors, including Lainy Voom and Phil Rice.

They have a great programme of movies, and Hugh & Johnnie are always fun to listen to, So, if you’re not busy this Friday evening, pop along to the Cambridge Film Festival and see how good machinima looks on a big screen.

It’s also worth checking out Frag, a movie about professional gamers, showing on Friday afternoon.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The sound of space…

Bleep! Whoosh! Bipbipbipbipbip! Brzzzzt!

So, they say in space nobody can hear you scream, but that would be really boring, wouldn’t it?  We all know that space is full of interesting sounds.  Where would we be without clanking robots, whooshing doors, whirring computers, and the hum of death rays, transporter beams and alien communication devices?

We’ve always believed that movies are as much about what you hear as what you see, so, in association with London-based audio specialists earcom, we’ll shortly be bringing you a selection of 200 fantastic Sci-Fi sounds, ranging from short beeps and clunks to longer atmospheric sounds for spaceships, or alien planets. 

Earcom, who provide most of the sounds built into Moviestorm, have a huge wealth of expertise in games (Lego Rockband and Lego Batman), films & TV (Book of Blood) and radio (Adventures of Sexton Blake).  We’ve worked with them for a number of years, ever since the very first prototypes of Moviestorm, and are really pleased that they’re letting us have access to their immense sound effects library.  This will, we hope, be the first in a series of sound effects packs from Earcom.  This collection of sound effects will complement the music collection that we started with Bob and Barn in July, and will shortly be extending with the three Soundfactor packs.

We’ll have more details on release dates, pricing, and contents shortly. In the meantime, Splundig vur Thrigg, Klaatu Barad Nikto, and smoke us a kipper, we’ll be back for breakfast.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, September 03, 2009

uFail - iPhone app made with Moviestorm

You know how we’ve always said that we’re happy for people to use Moviestorm for commercial products?  Well, Sam Midwood and Heliodor Jalba, aka Badd Science, have gone and done it.

uFail: The App That WINS!!! is a forthcoming app for the iPhone which allows you to send animated insults to your friends, co-workers, teachers, or your boss (if you feel that foolhardy).  Most of the eight Fail-O-Mations in the launch version are made with Moviestorm, and more are promised.  uFail is going through Apple’s approval process at the moment, and should be released in a couple of weeks. We’ll let you know when it’s up.


You can find out more from Facebook, Twitter, or their Web site.

For those who don’t know him, Zuckerman was one of our very first users, creating great little movies like Horn Section, Being John Machinima, and A Doomsday Warning is in Effect.  We’re really pleased to see what he’s doing with it now.  Sam - you don’t FAIL!

(2) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Energy and Tension

The third part of the upcoming Soundfactor collection is Energy and Tension (check out Exotic Moods and Smooth Sounds if you missed them earlier this week).  These are much more gritty and punchy sounds, best used in tough action movies or for scenes where you need the audience on the edge of their seats.  Here we’ve focused on a selection of gangsters and villains, but with a touch of something different in the middle just for variety.

Dark and edgy, or uptempo and bright - give your films added drive with this collection of rock and electronica. Music allows you to transform an otherwise dull, pedestrian scene into something exciting and memorable. Fast rocking beats will get the audience’s pulse racing, while slower sounds can add menace, mystery, or disorientation.  This collection of 58 tracks of rock and electronica is suitable for a wide range of moods and atmospheres, from dark city streets and sleazy nightclubs to eerie dreamlands and butt-kicking action scenes.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Exotic moods

The second pack in the forthcoming Soundfactor collection is Exotic Moods.  (If you missed it yesterday, the first is Smooth Sounds.)  As you might imagine, this can be used for a huge variety of scenes; we’ve used clips from five tracks here for a mystical glade - but with two very different ambiences - a Spanish mountain farm, the Australian outback, and a science fiction setting.

Well-chosen music can often convey mood far more effectively than visuals or words ever can.  A simple sequence of still or slowly panning images, combined with evocative music, can set the tone of a scene in seconds without the need for complicated exposition or story.  This wide-ranging collection of 44 fully-licensed music tracks evokes everything from sunny Mediterranean hillsides to majestic Oriental splendor, sultry Mexican passion, and wistful nostalgia. 


(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

We’ll make you a MovieGift

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve probably seen our seven MovieGift apps, which you can use to send movies to your friends:

Moviestorm Shorts - the 10 winners of the Keep It Snappy competition
The Clarks - The whole of season 1 of act3scene24’s crazy sitcom
Northern Lasses - British humor by luxaeternam
Science Fiction - 17 movies, including work by sisch, Fulkster, and iceaxe.
Star Quest - 8 episodes of Reptor7’s fantastic sci-fi adventure series
Comedy - 21 short gags, giggles and chuckles


For a short time only, we’re offering to create custom MovieGift apps for you. We’ll make five collections based on your picks. If you want a collection, then reply here or PM us with the following info:

Name of your collection (up to 5 words)
Short description (up to 100 words)
URLs or titles of up to 12 movies (they must be on the Moviestorm site)

They don’t have to be your own movies - pick whichever ones you think other people are most likely to want to see. On the other hand, don’t be shy. If you’re a movie-maker, why not use this to push your own movies out to new audiences?

We’ll choose the best, most entertaining, weirdest, funniest, or whatever grabs our attention and turn them into your own MovieGift collection.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Smooth sounds

While we’re waiting for the soundfactor packs to be released, here’s a first look at one of them: smooth sounds.  Well, it’s a listen, really, but this will give you an idea of the range of movies you could use this music for: we have a small jazz club, a city street, some peaceful gardens, and a sleazy drug lord’s hangout. 

Long movie scenes with nothing happening can get boring quite quickly. Gentle music can completely change that, transforming a slow sequence into a gentle dreamlike moment that inspires the audience and gives them a chance to reflect on what has happened and what is going to happen. This collection of 59 fully licensed, royalty-free mellow electronica and jazz tracks from Soundfactor Productions give you everything you need to create those quiet magical moments that stay in the mind long after the movie’s over.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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