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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Joseph Kwong - THE END IS NIGHt

Machinimator Craig Harbison runs a contest each year called the Passion Competition, which challenges creators working with any machinima tool to create films on the theme of “Passion”. This year’s challenge was to make a film showcasing the struggle between GOOD and EVIL, RIGHT and WRONG. The winner was Joseph Kwong, with his movie Scion, created with The Movies (below).

Scion from JosephKw on Vimeo.

As part of his prize, Joseph won a copy of Moviestorm. His debut Moviestorm piece was this stunning action-oriented film, THE END IS NIGHt. We were amazed by what he created on his very first foray into Moviestorm, and asked him to tell us about himself and his work.  (Skip to the end to see the full movie.)


Joseph’s been a filmmaker for about as long as he can remember. “I’ve always been interested in films, perhaps because I now Iive in Hollywood,” he says, “but actually my fascination goes back to even when I was a toddler. My mother told me that I frequently interrupted her bedtime stories by interjecting what I thought would’ve been better endings, or more exciting conflicts, and in other words had a knack for telling my own version of the tales. When I went to my first summer camp and discovered the joy of campfire stories, I was in narrative heaven. Even after I returned from those outings, I would gather some friends up, sequester ourselves in the school’s “lost and found” room, close the door and turn off the lights, and then whip out a flashlight and commence a session of indoor campfire tales. This love of the story later progressed to audio tales with dialogue and sound effects recorded on tape, and then onto short films on video. I even dabbled with claymation and stop-motion animated action figures with a super 8 film camera. Years later, this eventually led to my pursuit of a creative writing degree in college. Although I enjoyed writing, I found visual media to be the most rewarding since I was able to convey my ideas and vision through not only words, but sight and sound.”

However, he still found himself frustrated with the limitations of what he could do with the time and budget available, and started looking for other ways to create films. “It wasn’t until I came across machinima software that I was able to create my own visions in a quick and cost-efficient manner.” Machinima gave him an immediate success. His first machinima film was one of the 12 winners (out of 3,033 entries) in the 2006 Warrington Film Festival in England. Encouraged by this, he went on to create dozens of short films which ended up being screened in film festivals around the world in such esteemed venues as Paris, Geneva, as well as in the U.S.

“The freedom of Moviestorm allowed me to let my creative vision flow”

This still didn’t satisfy him, though, and he wanted to make more ambitious films. “Although I became well-acquainted with the machinima software I worked with, I was also very aware of its severe limitations. So when my friend and fellow machinimator John Norton (aka Nahton) informed me of a new, dedicated animation tool being developed, I looked into Moviestorm immediately. However, my computer configuration at that time did not allow me to run the Moviestorm program, and so I continued working with my old software. It wasn’t until I won the grand prize in the 2011 Passion Competition, and was awarded the complete Moviestorm package as a prize, that I was able to finally try out this software (which works well with my new computer setup).”
imageHis first Moviestorm film wasn’t something he deliberately set out to create. “The entire film was the result of a spontaneous desire to see what this new program could do,” he laughs. “I had no intention of actually creating a film - I had no script nor even an outline. I just ran the program, watched a brief introductory overview tutorial, and felt I had enough knowledge to shoot a simple scene at least. Due to the user-friendly nature of the software, that simple scene grew into a simple act, and finally into a complete eighteen minute film. I created this movie in my leisure time starting in late December 2011 and finished tweaking it in March, 2012.” The entire film is filmed with Moviestorm with no post-production touches.

He also found himself working in an entirely new way, shooting the film in chronological order starting from the first scene until the final frame. “I have never attempted or even dreamed of creating a film in this manner. Due to the limitations of my previous software, I always needed to plot out my shots, and storyboard the more complex scenes, and then figure out if I could feasibly shoot what I had in mind. The freedom of Moviestorm allowed me to let my creative vision flow and to actually transpose the images from my mind onto the screen.”

“I felt proficient with Moviestorm after my first evening working with it”

Two things made this creative freedom possible: the ease of use of Moviestorm, and the supportive community of filmmakers. “The best thing about my newfound filmmaking tool is the intuitive ease and logical layout of the program. I no longer needed to memorize the often haphazard names of animation scenes; all I need do is select a virtual actor/actress, then right click on the object or actor I wish him/her to interact with. A submenu of the available actions appears and I make my selection. I felt proficient with Moviestorm just after my first evening working with it - if even that long, and the results were, in a word, satisfying. I was again in narrative heaven. I did, at times, come across actions which I wish were available for the virtual characters to perform. For example, I needed one of the actors to pick up a fire extinguisher and put out a blaze. However, that option was not available with my “out-of-the-box” program. Fortunately there exists an extensive community of Moviestorm users (which I learned were affectionately termed “Moviestormers”) who are ready and more-than-able to assist their fellow animators. I approached one (Nahton) who promptly proceeded to create the prop I required, along with a variety of animations to go with it. Problem solved. Film completed.”
imageHe is currently re-rendering the film in a 3D format and planning his next production. “I always had a love of 3D movies, and am thrilled at the ease in which I can craft one with Moviestorm,” he says. “In fact, I have my heart set on filming all my future Moviestorm films in a 3D format. I’m working on three more stories which came to me while working with this software (one a satirical comedy, another a science fiction mystery, and finally a horror piece.”

That sounds like an ambitious task, and Joseph agrees. “I always have more stories than I have time to actually film, so I am currently working with another Moviestormer, Lucinda McNary (aka Lucindamc123) to create a full feature-length animated film. I wrote the screenplay, and I left her the task of directing and producing it. The film, Vautrin, is based on a true story, and Lucinda recently informed me it is halfway completed. I am eager to see her realization of my vision.”

“Stop contemplating making films and simply make them”

Joseph’s passion for filmmaking is clear, and he loves to encourage others to try it for themselves. “I have friends and family who watch my films and then express their desire to create movies and share their stories. I tell them they can, and with relative ease now with machinima programs. They just have to stop contemplating about making films and simply make them. It only gets better.”

We look forward to seeing more work from this extraordinarily talented filmmaker.


THE END IS NIGHt from JosephKw on Vimeo.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Teachers & students - get Moviestorm for just $20!

For the next week, we’re offering a one-year licence Moviestorm to teachers and students for the unprecedented price of $20 / £12.50 / €15. 

It’s already heavily discounted for educational users, but we’re adding a further 66% off for the next seven days.

This deal includes Moviestorm and 39 content packs - that works out at less than 32 pence or 50 cents per pack.  It has everything you need to make a huge variety of movies suitable for a wide range of coursework - take a look at some of the ways Moviestorm can be used in schools and colleges, and download free lesson plans here. It’s perfect for media courses and for many other mainstream subjects as well including arts, sciences and humanities, and has been used by students of all ages from elementary and primary schools right up to universities and colleges worldwide.

Use coupon code LEARN at the checkout. Offer closes May 2nd 2012.

Note: this offer applies to single user licenses only, not to site licenses. There’s more information on site licenses here.

Teachers: tell your students! Students: tell your friends!

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Moviestorm for journalists - an intern’s view

Tara May Cox, studying at Broadcast Journalism at Bournemouth University in the south of the UK, spent the Easter holiday working with Moviestorm, focusing on understanding how this type of tool can be of relevance to journalists. After the Easter break, she wrote an article for Media Magazine’s ‘play and participation’ online supplement. She notes that “the digital revolution of the 21st century has meant a rise in media-literate public, especially the younger generation, but Moviestorm offers a different experience entirely than simply filming on your iPhone,” and that “with such a versatile animation concept, anything seems possible.”

Download the magazine (PDF)

Tara also created a video blog about her experiences.  She comments that “Moviestorm enabled me to create my own animation video-blog, something which could well become a welcome trend in the journalism and media industry. The software reminded me of The Sims, but was much more versatile, and I could do things such as lip-sync my audio clips to my character and have them present to me from the other side of the computer screen. I could also add a screen onto which I could embed video, and could make my character gesture to the video while it showed me the videos I had chosen. What I liked most about the software was that it was an excellent representation of an animated presentation, and for someone like me who gets nervous at presentations to big crowds of people; Moviestorm could be an innovative new tool in the business world.”

(Courtesy of Tara May Cox)

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Monday, April 23, 2012

Emerging Screenwriters - winners 2012

For the second year running, we were sponsors of the Emerging Screenwriters competition. We’re proud to present the winners, who produced a varied and wide-ranging selection of scripts.

Grand Prize: Steve Atkinson
No Mountain Too High (Drama)
- Based on an inspiring true story, a tenacious ski instructor goes from womanizing ski bum to a life-altering pioneer when he’s asked to do the impossible by teaching a small group of disabled children to ski.

Steve Atkinson is a television journalist, ambitious screenwriter, and cycling enthusiast from San Diego, California. His mother was an English teacher and his father was a high school football coach.  Influenced by his parents, Atkinson developed a love for both writing and sports, which eventually led to broadcasting. During his career Atkinson has won 7 Emmy awards and the prestigious Edward R. Murrow award for his writing. It was the Murrow award that inspired Atkinson to expand the concept of his story into the screenplay No Mountain Too High.

In an attempt to discover if he simply formatted his screenplay correctly and for feedback, Atkinson began entering No Mountain Too High in screenplay contests. His first result was “Best Drama” at the Sundance Table Read Contest. Atkinson hopes to one day push No Mountain Too High through production. Until then you can find him hammering out other screenplays, anchoring the news for KGTV in San Diego, or on a bike cycling the scenic “California 101.” Steve and his wife, Katherine, live in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Their children Veronica and Christopher both attend Gonzaga University in Washington. You can follow him at

Steve wins a one-year license to Moviestorm Max.

2nd Place: Derek Asaff
Guinea Pigs (Animation)
- After Morris, a soft-spoken guinea pig, arrives in a science lab filled with super powered animals, he learns that not everything is as carefree as it seems, and he must help his new friends escape the lab and the evil Scientist.

Derek, a native Bostonian, is a recent graduate of Harvard University’s Extension School, with an ALB in Creative Writing. He spent Spring 2012 teaching Beginning Screenwriting at Grub Street, the second largest independent center for creative writing in the United States. Derek will begin studying for an MFA in Screenwriting in Fall 2012 when he becomes a Screenwriting Fellow at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles.

3rd Place: Michael Rodriguez
Franchise (Drama)
- After years of erasing problems for superstar athletes, a family man grapples with morality and perception while secretly masterminding professional sports.

IMichael has never had any formal training, schooling, or classes for screenwriting, and says, “I basically pay attention when I watch TV or movies and I read scripts to figure out formatting/ structure, etc.” A salesperson by trade, he also plays professional golf and writes whenever he gets the time.

4th Place: Devi Snively
Love in the Time of Zombies (Horror)
- A love-wary teenage girl has growing doubts about her boyfriend when a zombie apocalypse reveals his true colors and hers. 

A former ballerina, Devi graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bum knee and a broken heart.  She recovered with an MFA in film.  Her screenplays have placed in numerous competitions and her shorts and micro-budget feature have screened at over 200 festivals world-wide, garnering 50+ awards and critical acclaim.  Her complete oeuvre has secured distribution and will be released in April when she’ll also launch her first international web series.  In 2007,  Devi participated in AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women.  Her resulting short DEATH IN CHARGE has been picked up by the Tribeca Institute for distribution.

5th Place: Monique Impagliazzo, Jennifer and Krystal Tini
Shenanigans (Comedy)
- Neighborhood tension escalates when a teenage girl in a gang secretly falls in love with the rival gang leader.

Monique Impagliazzo began writing “Shenanigans” as her Senior Thesis at Philadelphia’s Temple University Film School. Fresh out of college, Impagliazzo went on to intern at the Mary Anne Claro Talent Agency in Philadelphia where she was referred to Producer, Diane Kirman.  Kirman was in the midst of producing the children’s feature film musical, “Standing Ovation” and brought Monique onto the production, where she reunited with high school friends, Jennifer and Krystal Tini. Together, they were watching their dreams become realities as the credits rolled on the big screen: Jennifer Tini, Co-Producer; Monique Impagliazzo, Associate Producer; Krystal Tini, Costume Designer and Choreographer.

After shooting was completed on “Standing Ovation” in New Jersey, the Tini’s convinced Imagliazzo to move to Los Angeles where they had been residing for the previous two years. Upon becoming roommates and close friends once again, the collaboration on “Shenanigans” began. The three South Philly natives put their minds together, creating new characters and incorporating some off-the-wall, but very true, stories of their crazy Italian families, breathing new life into this hilarious script!

Additional finalists: Ed Vela, Andrew Crane, Kyle Michel Sullivan, Harvey Patterson and Tara Knight.

All finalists win a three-month license to Moviestorm Max.

To find out more, or to contact the writers about their screenplays, please visit or email (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Please also visit our co-sponsor the International Screenwriter’s Association, where you’ll find a variety of useful free resources.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, April 20, 2012

Upgrade to Moviestorm Max for under $100

If you’ve bought one of the Movestorm Theme bundles, you’re only getting a small part of what Moviestorm can do. Upgrade to Moviestorm Max this weekend with a 40% discount, and you’ll get up to 24 extra content packs for $99 - that’s about $4 each!  For our British and European customers, that’s £66 or €90.

Go to the purchase page, select Upgrade, and use coupon code ALLTHEWAY at the checkout.

Offer expires 10.00am UK time Monday 23 April.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday 13th special offer - make horror movies for under $50!

It’s Friday 13th, so how better to spend the weekend than making a horror film?

The Action Movies bundle includes a complete movie-making suite, plus the modder’s workshop, and 14 content packs with a limitless range of characters to be styled, from colorful aliens, blood draining vampires, zombies and skeletons, to the law and government agents. These packs also contain all the action, interactions and effects to create great sci-fi and horror.

Buy it this weekend for 35% off, and you’ll get Moviestorm for life for less than the price of a one-year license - that’s under $50!

Use coupon code FRIDAY13 at the checkout - applies to both online and box purchases.

Offer expires 10.00am UK time Monday 16 April.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Easter special - Action Movies bundle

This Easter weekend - buy the Action Movies bundle for 35% off, and you’ll get Moviestorm for life for less than the price of a one-year license. That’s under $50 for a complete movie-making suite plus the modder’s workshop and 11 extra content packs!

Use coupon code KABLAM at the checkout - applies to both online and box purchases.

(0) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Special offer - 1AD pack

Today only: since it’s Easter, we’re offering the 1AD pack for 200MSP - that’s just $2!

This themed pack is ideal for creating rural middle-eastern scenes and characters, religious figures and locations.  (Or, if you prefer, sci-fi characters on a planet far, far away…)

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

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Special offer - 50% off Classroom pack

Special offer - today only - Get the Classroom pack for just 500MSP!

This pack is ideal for all of your education scenes, providing you with a sizeable selection of school uniforms, school furniture and teaching stock (such as books, an interactive whiteboard, stationary and other props). We’ve also included some useful animations to allow your characters to play out their roles as teachers and students, and you can portray any subject or topic by simply changing the whiteboard’s main image.

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, April 03, 2012

Special offer - Indian Culture for $2

Special offer - today only - Get the Indian Culture pack for just 200MSP!

Add a bit of Indian Culture to your movies in the form of a traditional Indian taxi, road signs and textures, props for your interiors and some authentic Indian costumes. There’s an intricate fireplace, privacy screen and ceiling fan for your house interiors, a road and pavement texture (along with kerbstones to separate them), plus a selection of market stalls and telephone/ power cables to dress your streets. Both costumes (a pajami for your female characters and a kurta for the males) have pattern variations and, as usual, there’s a version of each that you can tint to any colour.

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

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