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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making Better Movies with Moviestorm, Vol 4

The fourth part of our free series of books on filmmaking is now published. It focuses on an area of filmmaking that’s easily overlooked, but is perhaps the most important part of the whole process - editing.

The popular perception of films is that they’re a creative collaboration between the director, the writer and the actors. It’s the director who always gets the credit for how a film turns out – or gets blamed if it’s a box office flop. Most aspiring filmmakers dream of being directors, because they want the creative control that directing seems to offer.

But it’s not the director who makes the film that the audience actually sees. The director decides what to shoot and tells his actors and crew what to do. It’s the editor who assembles everything into a completed movie – the footage, the sounds, the special effects, the titles and credits and anything else. In the editing stage, the pace of the story can be changed completely, and even the story-telling structure can be switched around to put emphasis on different characters or reveal key plot points in a different structure. Scenes can be removed to keep the story moving, and some of the director’s best work can end up as nothing more than a DVD extra. In extreme cases, editing can sometimes result in a film that’s very different to what the director intended – as a great example of what an editor can do with your carefully filmed footage, check out Scary Mary, the recut trailer for Disney’s Mary Poppins.  Skilful editing turns this classic family movie into a horror movie.

As a director, you need to understand the editing process instinctively. Working closely with your editor is key to a successful creative team. You have to remember that everything you film is just raw material for your editor – it’s just a stage in the process. In pre-production, you need to think about how your film will be edited. If you can previsualize your film and make an animatic, this can help immensely. Not only can you plan out your shots, but you will also be in a position to check the timing, pacing, sound, movement, and more.

This volume covers a range of common editing techniques, and provides exercises which help you think about different ways of cutting the same film.  They will help you develop a sense of what you as a director have to do to make the editor’s job easier, and to ensure that you are giving the editor what they need to create the film you envisage.

With live action film, you often find yourself making creative compromises when the footage you shot turns out not to be quite right. Reshoots are expensive, usually prohibitively so, and you’re forced to work with whatever you have. Using Moviestorm makes it easy to go back and forth between all stages of the film, so it’s easy to adjust anything that doesn’t work once it’s been in final edit. You can see how a scene turns out, and if you think you can do better, you can quickly make changes to the camerawork, the staging, or anything else, and try it again.

Download book (PDF)

Previous volumes



(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Moviestorm 1.5 released

Moviestorm 1.5 is now available!

We promised we’d get it to you by the end of the year, and here it is. Moviestorm 1.5 - shinier, faster, and with all-new added goodness. It’ll make your hair more lustrous, help you lose weight, and wash your clothes even whiter than before. Okay, maybe not, but it will help you make films faster and better.

What’s new

Moviestorm 1.5 includes a lot of new features. You can find full details in the release notes, along with the main bug fixes. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Terrain editor: change the default mountains around the edge of the set.
  • Import video into the cutting room: you can now mix scenes from several different movies, or mix in external video files.
  • Save gestures to stock: once you’ve created a gesture for a character, you can easily use it again in other scenes or movies.
  • Tint the sky: gives you much more variation in the feel of your exterior sets.
  • Timeline grouping: group several activities together on the timeline and move them all together.
  • Text to speech allows you to create basic dialog without an audio file or microphone.
  • WebM video format gives better performance and quality on a wider range of hardware.
  • Dressing room user interface makes it easier to find costumes.
  • Screenshot button in Camera view makes it easy to create storyboards or stills.
  • Timeline user interface has been made clearer and easier to use.
  • Some Cutting Room filters now have options for different strengths of the filter.
  • Extra Large Set is a new stock set with the floor grid at 100m square instead of the normal 50m square.
  • You can now render stereoscopic 3D left and right eye views as separate renders, allowing you to re-combine them in the 3D software of you choice.
  • New audio filters give you better control over your sound.


Just start up Moviestorm as normal. It will automatically update the launcher (not the main program). Then when you’re ready, you can update Moviestorm from the launcher when it’s convenient. Be patient, it could take a while, especially if you’re on a slow connection.

If you have repeated problems downloading the file, you may need to temporarily disable your virus checker.


As far as we can tell, your existing movies should work fine with 1.5. There are however, a few things to watch out for.

  • Mods: we’ve tested some mods, and we haven’t found any problems, but we can’t 100% guarantee that your mods will continue to work.
  • Lighting: we fixed a bug with ambient lighting which meant that it was extra bright under some circumstances. You may need to adjust the ambient lighting to compensate.
  • Doors: we changed the pathfinding for going through doors. In some cases, your characters may take a different route, and will walk through walls instead of being stuck..
  • Dance floor: the dance floor works differently and you may need to tell each dance floor to flash instead of them all flashing at the same time.

If you have problems, please check the support forums or contact support via the support Web site.

(1) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

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