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Friday, September 10, 2010

Moviestorm talk show pack - it does more than you think!

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s release of Moviestorm 1.4.1, here’s a deceptively useful pack. The Talk Show pack is a must-have pack designed for making chat shows, interviews, video blogs and other forms of presentation.  It also comes with a broad selection of TV studio assets, including customisable panels, curtains, projection screens and furniture.

So what’s the big deal? Why would you want this if you’re not making a talk show?

The Talk Show pack also includes a huge collection of expressive seated animations. Now your Moviestorm characters can gesticulate, gesture and emote while sitting down. Combined with the standing animations in the base pack, this gives them an incredible range of dramatic and emotional performances. Whatever kind of film you’re making, this will extend your characters’ acting ability massively, and give you whole new ways to film many different scenes.  Think how differently you could do that meeting with the boss, the board room scene, the moment where she sits on the bed and pours her heart out, or the interplanetary video conversation with the wife he left behind… And, of course, you could always use it for making talk shows!


But that’s not all. The pack also includes a basic nav mesh, which allows you to get your characters off the floor and onto different heights. This one’s very limited: your characters can walk around the mesh, but they can’t step onto or off it, so you’ll need some creative cutting if you’re going to give them the illusion of full movement around the set. However, it does now mean you can have your lead characters towering above the crowd, or even just on a raised stage.

And finally, the Talk Show pack features a new way to create sets. Instead of stock sets, there are two ready-made TV studio sets as tintable props. You just place them on an empty set like any other prop. You can then add tables, chairs, or other set items to them as normal. You can even include them in a larger set, complete with entry corridors and archways, or build a large auditorium around them. Supplying sets in this way means that some of the lighting is pre-rendered, giving you smoother shadows and some faked light-bounce effects.

The third prop-based set is a complete green-screen room. Place your characters in this, and then use the chroma-key tools in your favourite video editor to composite them into completely new scenes, mixing them up with any video footage you like. We’ve had backdrops to do this for a while, but this easy set gives you floor and ceiling as well, with just a single click.


So, even if you’re not planning to make a talk show, this pack is filled with essential assets. The seated animations and nav mesh are bound to be useful, whatever you’re making, and the green-screen room is perfect for advanced users who want to combine their Moviestorm footage with other things.

The Talk Show pack is available in the Marketplace now.  Price 100 MSP/month, or 1000MSP to purchase. (Requires Moviestorm 1.4.1)

(7) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Moviestorm 1.4.1 released

Moviestorm 1.4.1 is now available free to all users. To get it, just start Moviestorm as normal and it will update automatically. You may need to wait up to 30 seconds, so don’t press the Start button too soon!

Note: If you’ve already installed the Moviestorm 1.4 early access release, you don’t need to do anything special with either or this time. Moviestorm 1.4 will just install as normal.

This release includes a few new features, and a lot of updates to the features introduced in Moviestorm 1.4. Most importantly for Mac users, it now runs on Tiger (OS X 10.4) or Leopard (OS X 10.5).

Stalker starter movie

For first-time users, we’ve added eight new starter movies.  These are short movie templates that provides a starting point for you to play with Moviestorm and easily create a compelling movie. Customise as much as you wish and add your own ending.  You can change the characters in the Dressing Room View, adjust the set in the Set Workshop, or go to the in Director’s View and click on events on the Timeline, to move, delete or customise character actions, and any dialogue. Adjust your camera cuts in the Camerawork View to fit your changes, and finally, add all your new footage in the Cutting Room View before rendering your movie and uploading it to share with your friends in the Publisher’s View.

Starter movies cover many genres: romance, gangsters, horror,and science fiction. But of course, you can easily switch them around, and turn that spooky chiller into a comedy or do a political broadcast instead of a blog.

Nosferatu starter movie, created by KV

New features

  • Moviestorm now remembers the sort option on the Load Movie screen.

  • Movie templates on the New Movie screen are now arranged by category rather than by content pack.

  • Characters in the Dressing Room View now have a placement mark at their feet. To change the color of the mark, left-click it.

  • Modding: Bodyparts with the same name in different addons are now merged together; this allows modders to add extra materials or decals to existing bodyparts such as the Universal Heads.

    Resolved issues

    • Moviestorm now runs on Macs running Tiger (OS X 10.4) or Leopard (OS X 10.5).
    • Target shots on slow walks, or on runs, no longer causes camera jumps.
    • A framerate slowdown caused by stacking lots of objects on top of each other has been fixed.
    • Deleting windows, fireplaces or doors no longer results in other objects attached to the relevant wall vanishing.
    • Backup files for a movie can now still be created even if you have ten backups already.
    • Combining depth of field, cel shading and the new Universal Heads no longer breaks the 3D view.
    • Can now drag a characters marks around in the Director’s view after the movie was saved in another view.
    • The held prop panel no longer goes blank when you change the colour of the held prop.
    • Eyes no longer vanish when looked at through transparent objects (such as glasses, hair or windows).
    • When you create a new scene, you will now be offered a choice of sets.
    • The lighting direction in the lighting panel is updated correctly when selecting a preset lighting option.

    Known issues

    • Moviestorm no longer loads in the view from which you saved the movie.
    • Eyes that pop out: Users with BaseBeta2, Pioneer01, MaleCostumes01 or FemaleCostumes01 will need to download and reinstall these Content Packs if they wish to continue to use them. While these packs are not longer supported, they have been updated with the animations which have been modified to fix a bug which caused characters eye to pop out.

    Full release notes available here.

    Stormfellas starter movie

    (0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

  • Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    The Choice: making games with Moviestorm

    We’re always fascinated to hear about innovative uses for Moviestorm. Given that it’s fundamentally a machinima-style tool, a lot of people have wondered whether it’s possible to use it in a gaming context. However, since it’s a virtual film studio at heart, not a game engine, it doesn’t quite do all the things that some people expect. You can’t simply take Moviestorm characters and put them in a game, or bring game characters into Moviestorm. And since it all runs off user-created scripts, you can’t just set up scenarios and “play” them.

    However, we’ve now seen a couple of people trying some experiments with other types of Moviestorm-based games. First of all, there was Jason3’s Alien Attack, which worked like an old “choose your own adventure” game. There are 22 short clips, and at the end of each one, you have to choose which clip to watch next to advance the story. It sort of works, but it isn’t the seamless gaming experience people expect these days, since you have to wait for a Web page and a video to load each time you make a choice. The links are also external to the movie, so you can’t play it full-screen and as a result, it all feels a little disjointed.

    image The latest attempt at a Moviestorm game is The Choice, a freeware point and click adventure created with Adventure Maker. Point and click games were hugely popular in the 80s and 90s, before the development of high-speed graphics cards, and they’re still very common in Japan, where they’re known as visual novels. They’re fast and easy to create, they’re fun to play, and they’re a great way to learn a lot about interactive narrative and non-linear storytelling. (Or, in other words, how to write a story where the reader, not the author, decides what happens next.)  In the game, our amnesiac hero wakes up at a bus stop with no memory of who he is.  You have to find out who he is and what he is supposed to be doing.  Making the right choice can mean the differance between life and death!

    image The Choice was created by Robert Yates of Robcar Games, based in Warrington, in the North of England. After getting fed up with being unemployed for several years, Robert decided to start his own company in May this year. He wanted to make games that were fun and easy to play, didn’t rely on violence for the gameplay, and had a positive moral message. Perhaps most importantly, he wanted to create games he could make on a minimal budget in his own home on his laptop. He has no formal programming training, but has been messing around with computers since owning a Commodore 64.  He looked at Adventure Maker, created by Giovanni Albani, but immediately started to wonder how to create the basic images for the game. Adventure Maker itself includes very little assets, and you need to import background images (either photos, or 3D rendered images). He asked around on the forums, and hooked up with one of the admins there, Barbara (better known in the Moviestorm community as the ever-helpful mystery_egypt). She recommended using Moviestorm to create stills.

    imageRobert found the software very easy to use. “It only took a few hours to figure out Moviestorm using the tutorials,” he says. “They were fantastic. I made The Choice as an experiment, and it only took about a week. I just set up my scenes, hit Print Screen, and edited them in Paintbrush ready to import into Adventure Maker.” Robert also liked the affordability. “I’m funding all this myself, so cost is important to me,” he comments. “£5 a month is well within even my tiny budget! I bought some content packs, but I also rent the packs I don’t need often, and I use a lot of third party mods. I’m really impressed with what squirrelygirl has been doing. Her Victorian and mediaeval stuff is great.”

    The Choice isn’t available through the Robcar Web site, largely for ethical reasons. “One of the possible endings is violent,” Robert points out. “That doesn’t fit with what we want to be doing.”

    Robcar’s next Moviestorm-based game made is tapping into the vampire craze. “I’ll be using the Dark Romance pack for this one. It’s about a vampire who has to come to terms with his loved ones growing old while he’s immortal.”

    Meanwhile, Barbara’s also creating games of her own. “I’m definitely planning to use Moviestorm for cut scenes to make the games more interesting,” she says. “I’m mostly creating little point and click adventures. I’m currently making a mystery/detective game. Though I do some modelling and animation myself, I’m very bad with character creation and animation. Moviestorm is very easy to use and fast.”  Barbara also works alone, in her spare time, from her home in Switzerland. Mystery’s Games is a one-woman show so far. My dream is of course to develop a bigger game, maybe even sell it, but I still want to get more practice for a commercial and polished game.”

    imageThese first few works are very early, tentative experiments in how Moviestorm can be used in a gaming context. There are some technical issues (The Choice didn’t run on some of our machines here) and you certainly shouldn’t be expecting a Broken Sword experience. And admittedly, the gameplay is a little crude and amateurish in places, and the user interface is pretty rough and ready. But it’s exciting to see how Moviestorm is allowing people to develop new skills and express themselves creatively in new ways. Even if they then go on to use other tools to create more professional games, Moviestorm will have played an important role in getting them started. We’ll be watching with interest to see what people like Robert and Barbara come up with next!


    (4) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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