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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Game, Set and Machinima at the Cambridge Film Festival, part 1

Short Fuze’s Matt Kelland and FDMX’s Saint John Walker have partnered to curate “Game, Set and Machinima” at this years Cambridge Film Festival (festival program).

PANEL - Screen Stories: Narrative in Games and Film (23 September 16:00 @ Arts Picturehouse)

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live” Joan Didion. Narrative in games has become more sophisticated thanks to photo-real graphics, surround-sound audio, larger screens and professional scriptwriters, but how does the experience of gaming on the latest consoles compare to storytelling on the big screen? Is the car chase in Bullitt better than running from the cops on GTA IV? Is the obelisk in 2001 more awe-inspiring than the Halo? And whose zombies would you rather have chasing you – George Romero’s or the ones in Dead Rising on the Xbox 360? Join technology writer Bill Thompson and a panel of industry experts to debate the future of narrative, with a batch of illustrative ?lm clips, live gameplay and Machinima extracts.

The screenings will be divided into four unique tracks:

Synthetic Cinema” will focus on films that replicate traditional cinematic genres (90 mins. English. 21 September 14:00 @ Arts Picturehouse.)

Machinima, borne out of games, has started a love affair with film. Although lacking the detail, dynamic range and sumptuousness of film stock, “machinimators” have made up for this with their flair for precision editing and cinematic composition, creating mood and suspense with big screen ambitions. In this session you’ll find a gamut of current film genres transported into the virtual world, from the romantic and mawkish through to the humourous and the horrific. However, these aren’t mere fan homages – these are engaging stories in their own right. As well as a screening of acclaimed films there will be a panel including Hugh Hancock, creator of the first Machinima feature film, and David Heinemann, associate film tutor of the BFI, discussing where cinematic Machinima is going and whether it will find acceptance in the wider film world – or even change it!

Dreams and Shadows” will cover darker, more experimental pieces (90 mins. English.)

Machinimators are not bound by the resources or rendering time constraints animators commonly endure to achieve their vision. The ability to change images rapidly in 3D space has led to an avalanche of playful experimentation – often with evocative or surreal results. There’s a feeling that since there are few ground rules in this new media, there’s plenty of room to try out new ideas, to bend and disrupt narrative, to explore different kinds of colourful abstraction. Here we see a collection of the more experimental, fantastic and occasionally dark visions conjured up in Machinima, from the exquisite Second Life-created mindscape of Lainy Voom’s BLACK SWAN to the paintbox craziness of Phil Rice’s BODYSNATCHERS Radiohead video – and the feverish nightmare of Tony Bannan’s FOLIE A DEUX.

Play’s the Thing” will be centred on machinima’s gaming roots (90 mins. English.)

Games are now mainstream and the games industry outstrips film and TV in terms of size; more people play World of Warcraft on any given day than see a new blockbuster film on its first weekend, and recently Grand Theft Auto 4 was reportedly the highest grossing media product of all time. Machinima has its roots in the twilight worlds of “modding” and tinkering with games engines. Here we explore the weird world of homages, satires and wry social commentary made by hijacking games characters and environments. See familiar characters from Halo, Sims, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto and even Hillary Clinton(!) migrate to the big screen to entertain you, crossing from high-octane game into drama, comedy, or even soap opera genres. A leading Games expert will be on hand to explain to the uninitiated just exactly how and why it’s done.

Zero Budget, Big Audience” will feature films that have been viral Internet hits (90 mins. English. 22 September 14:00 @ Arts Picturehouse.)

Making a Machinima movie on zero budget doesn’t mean that you can’t reach as many people as a TV channel. Come and see the most successful Machinima movies ever made, and listen to leading personalities from the world of amateur Machinima explain how YOU can reach a million people with a single home-produced Machinima movie. See great Machinima examples and hear how the creators got the publicity, and built on their success. Our panelists will be kept in check by chairperson David Bailey, CEO of Moviestorm. If you aspire to making your own movies and clocking up a million hits, this session’s for you!

There will be a panel including Hugh Hancock, creator of the first Machinima feature film (BloodSpell), and
David Heinemann, associate film tutor of the BFI, discussing where cinematic Machinima is going and whether it will find acceptance in the wider film world – or even change it!

Hugh Hancock and Johnnie Ingram, co-authors of Machinima for Dummies, will also present hands-on workshops - “Make a Movie in your Lunchbreak” - where participants (suitable for ages 13 and over) will be able to make a complete 3D animated movie in one hour. All software will be provided, no knowledge of 3D modelling or animation is required. Everyone will leave with a free digital movie-making. Pre-booking through the Arts Picturehouse is essential. Check this page for times/dates.

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