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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Machinima - an increasingly silent medium?

Over on Machinima for Dummies, Hugh Hancock posted a review of 2008 and some predictions for 2009.  One of the things he says is that “2008 has really been the year where Machinima stopped doing dialogue.”  If Hugh’s right - and I don’t think he is, I think his assertion says more about the movies he’s seen than machinima as a whole - we have to ask why people aren’t doing dialogue in machinima films.  Or, more to the point, why they’re apparently doing less dialogue now than they have done in previous years.

Obviously there’s the hardware factor.  No mic = no dialogue.

And then there’s the embarrassment factor.  I know it took me quite a while before I was comfortable doing voice acting in my room at home, particularly if the kids could hear me.  I’d have to wait until everyone was out.

And there’s the convenience factor.  Trying to record without picking up traffic noise, kids whooping, toilets flushing, etc was a real pain.  I normally work late at night, and recording dialogue - especially arguments - tends to annoy the rest of the household.

Plus, of course, there’s the “is this script any good” factor.  It’s much safer to tell a story through narration and music than to try and write good dialogue. 

And lastly, there’s the collaboration factor.  You need at least two people to do dialogue, which means either getting together with another person or collaborating via the Net.  If you work on your own, as many machinimators do, it’s easier to create films that don’t rely on other people.

But is any of this really any harder now than it used to be?  Almost every laptop has a mic. There are free text to speech tools.  Collaborating on voice recording via skype is free and easy.  Sticking a duvet over your head to make an improvised sound booth is no harder now than it was five years ago.  If anything, I’ve seen more dialogue in machinima this year than in previous years.  We’re seeing loads of short sketches and simple comedies, and we’re seeing some great short dramas.  I’ve actually been surprised at how few music videos I saw in 2008.

But maybe that’s just Moviestorm.  The tools make it easy to record dialogue straight into your movie or to import audio files, and you get lipsync automatically.  So is this a creative issue or a tools issue?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(19) Comments | (0) Trackbacks | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Hugh Hancock on 01/13 at 04:39 AM

I’d definitely agree that if there’s Machinima anywhere, it’s in Moviestorm. It’s the conbination of ease-of-use and the fact it’s built in and clearly intended.

I’d say that this is mostly a tools issue, to be honest. We frequently and considerably underestimate the impact of tools on the world of Machinima - a world where, for some reason, very, very few people are coders.

Xanatos on 01/13 at 08:18 AM

i think you hit the nail on the head with every single one of those points, haha! but my interpretation would be it’s more of a creative issue. there’s a lot of great and affordable hardware out there and I know a lot of people have invested in something or another that’s fairly high end to high end. but there’s also the issue that if someone has a microphone they don’t particularly like, then they aren’t inclined to use it. secondly, regardless of what someone may use, may not be the most satisfied with the lipsyncing tools. that’s a little outside of the box, though.

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/13 at 09:07 AM

Don’t forget about the evolution factor. Machinima started off with Jokey, hastily written RVB clones, and overwrought melodramas, the early ages of machinima were filled to the brim with dialogue, but not necessarily good writing. In some instances the decision to tell a story without dialogue can also stem from a producer distancing themselves from the all words/in-joke laden machinima early days.

will shetterly on 01/13 at 06:05 PM

Two more possible factors:

No words makes a video international. That helped silent movies spread quickly.

If many of these are music videos, there may be no need for the actors to talk. Essentially, we’re getting montage, not vignette.

will shetterly on 01/13 at 06:13 PM

I should’ve read the comments over there first. Phil Rice called the international accessibility point.

MalcolmMcEasy on 01/14 at 07:41 PM

For me, the hardest part was the voices. Having all of the characters in my own voice made the final movies difficult to follow.

I wound up going for a semi-free voice changing software. It isn’t perfect, but at least the characters sound different.

As far as dialog goes, my problem is usually too much dialog.

Geiiga on 01/15 at 03:01 PM

I agree with Xanatos. Myself, Danny, and Chris (who plays Chief) on Luke and Joe all have professional or nearly professional-quality microphones (my USB condenser, at $100, was the cheapest of the lot). It’s glaringly obvious when we have an actor who doesn’t feel like putting that much down on their sound capture equipment.

And the solo thing is also a huge deal. I’ve done some vocal training that allows me to voice six or seven distinct characters in a five or six minute film, which saves me from having to rely on other people who may not be entirely reliable. If only there was vocal training that would let me do a female voice that didn’t sound like an American Graham Chapman in drag, I’d never need to rely on anybody for voices again.

Busby SEO Test on 01/21 at 08:06 PM

I love music! You have created a post that catches my attention. Hope that you will continue doing this kind of post!

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/22 at 06:34 AM

One of the things I’ve noticed, especially with some of the most recent Moviestorm movies, is that good voice-over, in combination with a good script can absolutely make a movie, almost regardless of the animations, visual direction or camera-work. And, of course, good voice-acting is much, much harder than people think.

betsybessie on 11/15 at 04:54 AM

Sorry man, the link you posted to http://www.machinimafordummies.com doesn’t work for me… Maybe it’s just a problem of my corporate proxy but anyways maybe there is an alternative one? Thanks in advance

home theater on 12/15 at 01:51 AM

I have done some vocal training that allows me to voice six or seven distinct characters in a five or six minute film,which saves me from having to rely on other people who may not be entirely reliable.

Santa Monica Public Relations on 04/05 at 01:37 AM

Collaborating on voice recording via skype is free and easy.  Sticking a duvet over your head to make an improvised sound booth is no harder now than it was five years ago.

manchester handyman on 05/10 at 10:03 PM

I’ve done some vocal training that allows me to voice six or seven distinct characters in a five or six minute film, which saves me from having to rely on other people who may not be entirely reliable.

manchester handyman on 05/10 at 10:10 PM

I know a lot of people have invested in something or another that’s fairly high end to high end. but there’s also the issue that if someone has a microphone they don’t particularly like, then they aren’t inclined to use it.

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/09 at 06:51 AM

Machinima is such an exciting amalgamation of topics we publish on in the For Dummies series– graphics, gaming, writing and storyboarding, digital movie editing, says Melody Layne, Acquisitions Editor at Wiley.  jordan II kicks

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 06/10 at 11:09 AM

I have done some vocal training that allows me to voice six or seven distinct characters in a five or six minute film,which saves me from having to rely on other people who may not be entirely reliable. jordan II kicks

Famous Quotes by Angelina Jolie on 10/24 at 04:52 AM

In some instances the decision to tell a story without dialogue can also stem from a producer distancing themselves from the all words/in-joke laden machinima early days.

(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/24 at 04:59 AM

who may not be entirely reliable. If only there was vocal training that would let me do a female voice that didn’t sound like an American Graham Chapman in drag, I’d never need to rely on anybody for voices again.

decorating manchester on 01/18 at 02:12 PM

Collaborating on voice recording via skype is free and easy. making a film just isn’t. if your me anyway



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