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Friday, January 23, 2009

Moviestorm is Hiring!

Moviestorm is experiencing rapid growth in a market that has the potential to grow explosively over the next two years and we're taking on new staff to continue to expand our team. We're looking for talented individuals in a number of roles.

If you have a pro-active attitude and are willing to roll your sleeves up you could be just who we need at our Cambridge, UK base. We welcome people from a variety of professional backgrounds, including traditional software engineering, games, film, television, or other creative industries.

Check out our current vacancies:

General 3D Artist

Short Fuze are seeking a technically knowledgeable and creative 3D General Artist, with 3D modeller/texturing and animation experience.

The applicant should be capable of creating 3D assets and animations at a quality level suitable for commercial distribution worldwide as part of a leading machinima application. Download the full Job Description.

Product Engineer

Short Fuze are seeking a talented software engineer to work on an industry-pioneering software tool that enables users to create their own movies.

The role is ideally suited to a 3D Games programmer, with lead experience on a released game. The applicant should be capable of writing code at a quality level suitable for commercial distribution worldwide as part of a leading machinima application. Download the full Job Description.

Art Manager

Short Fuze are seeking a highly organised, technically knowledgeable and creative manager to work on an industry-pioneering machinima tool that enables users to create their own movies.

A technically knowledgeable and capable 3D artist, the Art Manager’s primary role is one of project management, coordinating the production and management of all external art production, in combination with managing internal productivity in support of the outsourcing process, and the development roadmap.

The Art Manager will strategically build the Company’s creative capability, liaise with engineering to develop new engine features and assist with defining the look and style of art as represented in product output. Download the full Job Description.

To apply for any Short Fuze position, please send us your full CV by post or using our Careers Contact Form. You must be eligible to hold employment in the UK.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An interview with Sisch

Short Fuze caught up with Sisch, the creator of Saving Grace, our current featured movie. Sisch is based in Bonn, Germany, and has been making machinima since December 2005 when she was given The Movies as a Christmas present.

Warning: this interview contains spoilers!

Short Fuze: Let’s kick off by saying Saving Grace was a great movie – one of the best we’ve ever seen in Moviestorm!
Sisch: Thank you!
Short Fuze: How long did it take you to make it?
Sisch: About three months, I think, including script-writing and getting everything together. That’s about how long I normally spend on a “serious” movie, mostly because all my stories are quite long.
Short Fuze: How long have you been using Moviestorm?
Sisch: Since the end of September ‘08.
Short Fuze: So it didn’t take you long to get to grips with it!
Sisch: No – I think it’s very intuitive. I just started playing around one afternoon – learning by doing.
Short Fuze: How does it compare to the Movies, and why did you choose to use Moviestorm for Saving Grace?
Sisch: I just love that I can influence every little gesture myself, change the mood, build my own sets. The Movies is much harder to work with, because you only have so many scenes, and have to constantly hunt for the right facial expressions and movements.
Short Fuze: Do you intend to continue using a mixture of engines in your films? I think you used three different ones in Saving Grace, is that right?
Sisch: Yes, Moviestorm, The Movies and X3 Terran Conflict – the space footage was filmed in X3. My next project will be done in MS mainly, with some The Movies for background footage and maybe one or two characters.
Short Fuze: So what is your next project, or can’t you tell us?
Sisch: It’s a remake of a movie a friend of mine made before the release of The Movies Stunts & Effects. A wonderful story, it’s called The Afflicted. The original can still be seen on TMU.
Short Fuze: Is there much of a local machinima community in Bonn, or do you mainly work with people you’ve found online?
Sisch: I only work with people online. I have no idea if there’s anyone else making machinima in Bonn. Even the Germans I know about are all over the country. Plus I work almost exclusively within the English speaking community.
Short Fuze: did you have any film training or are you self-taught?
Sisch: All self-taught. I do everything by instinct, and get inspired by ‘real world’ movies.

Short Fuze: Is machinima just a hobby for you?
Sisch: Yes! – but it’s much more than that. Because of it, I started taking acting lessons, I started writing again, I started singing… I think my friends regret it to this day, because I spend so much time movie-making now!
Short Fuze: Do you have ambitions to make films professionally?
Sisch: Oh, I don’t know. I love doing this, and I would love to be able to do something related as a full time job, but I’m not actively searching for an opportunity to make movies professionally.
Short Fuze: What made you want to make films in the first place?
Sisch: I want to tell stories. I wrote stories when I was a kid, but forgot all about it. As soon as I got my hands on The Movies and saw the possibilities, I was addicted. I love every aspect of movie making – the visuals, acting, sound design – and I’m a perfectionist. I just love to touch people’s feelings with my movies.
Short Fuze: That passion certainly comes across in Saving Grace. What was the inspiration for that story?
Sisch: It was made for a competition a member of the TMU community made. He had made a film – Distance – for his girlfriend who lives in Australia; he lived in England at the time – and the theme for the competition was Distance.
Short Fuze: What films and stories influenced you in Saving Grace?
Sisch: I like to think I’m not influenced – although I’m aware that is an illusion. I’m interested in how humans react to certain situations – most of my movies deal with difficulties and predicaments, and decisions.
Short Fuze: Did you start with the story and then look for a way to tell it, or did you start by looking at Moviestorm and seeing the possibilities?
Sisch: I always start with one scene I see in my mind’s eye. In the case of Grace, I was seeing a lonely woman in space, with only the A.I. for company. Then I start thinking about how the person got there. I never think of limitations when I write my stories.
Short Fuze: Then you have the challenge of how to build what you see in your mind!
Sisch: Yes! I like that challenge.
Short Fuze: Did you have to make any big compromises to film the story?
Sisch: No, not at all.
Short Fuze: Which parts were hardest to film? What were the big challenges?
Sisch: To get all the gestures right – I spent hours on the scene where she’s having the discussion with AICO in her bedroom, adding layers and layers of gestures, to make her facial expressions just right.
Short Fuze: And are you pleased with the results?
Sisch: Yes. I wouldn’t have released it otherwise. I’m not arrogant – I’m sure there are some things that could be done even better, but I like the movie as it is.

Warning – Spoilers from here on in!

Short Fuze: One bit of the story that particularly made it for me was that the AI would have aborted the mission if Grace had wanted, which is the opposite of the usual convention that the mission overrides all (I'm thinking of HAL in 2001 here). Was that an intentional reverse?
Sisch: Yes. I wanted to show the A.I. learning, and getting more “human” in the process – and realising that with a profoundly unhappy Grace, the mission would be, if not impossible, much harder to accomplish. AnotherNewDawn, the voice actor who played AICO, did a wonderful job – he even sounds a bit more human in the end. One viewer told me he didn’t really get why the A.I. did that – I feel it did it because it had empathy routines, and could understand why Grace was so unhappy.
Short Fuze: That was the impression I got, and it seemed to me that gave comfort to Grace as well and gave her the strength to continue.
Sisch: Yes, that was what I wanted to show.
Short Fuze: To wrap up, what would you like to see Moviestorm do next?
Sisch: I would love to see more gestures – it would be great if we had the possibility to make the characters’ eyes close when we want it, a ‘breathe’ gesture would be nice – adjustable – and a sexy walk feature – real hip-swinging! I’m very much looking forward to the buildings, too. And to get characters to drive cars would be really nice.
Short Fuze: At least you’re not asking for gorillas in ballet dresses on trapezes with light sabres!
Sisch: Now you’re giving me ideas!
Short Fuze: Thank you, Sisch, and thanks again for making Saving Grace.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New competition launched

New year, new competition! For this contest, we want you to design a set and present it as a short movie. The movie shouldn't be any longer than 2 minutes and should give us a good idea of all the important elements of the set. For an example of a set walkthrough movie, take a look at tree's Japanese set. Action, choreography, dialogue or music are optional and you can use any content packs you like.

There are three categories with a winner selected in each:

  1. Moviestorm interior: must use Moviestorm content only (Moviestorm content includes customising objects where this is allowed by the normal set workshop interface, e.g. adding your own image to a picture or backdrop. No copyright images allowed, though - they must be original or licensed.) Interior sets need not be complete rooms: we will be looking at how good they look for filming in, so three-wall sets are fine.
  2. Moviestorm exterior: must use Moviestorm content only.
  3. Modded: can use user add-ons, sketchup imports, etc. Can be interior or exterior.

The winner in each category will get 1000 points. We'll give you a bonus of 1000 points if you send us the set as a stock set and allow us to distribute it free to other Moviestorm users (you'll need to give us or point us at the mods and/or custom images as well). You don't need to send those to enter, however - we'll contact you for the files when we make our final selections.

We'll judge the competition on the basis of lighting, general design and whether it's an interesting set in which to make films.

Closing date is noon (GMT) on Tuesday, 10 February, 2009.

Enter the competition via your Moviestormer page or the competitions page.

Law and Order winners announced

We asked our users to create a demo trailer for a hypothetical Cop Show using Moviestorm and our new Law and Order content pack. We were really impressed by the quality and imagination of the entries. Some of them weren't quite what we were expecting, and all the better for it!

Our joint runners up included Castaneda Cops by bongoman, a rather surreal fusion of Carlos Casteneda's shamanism and an "alternative" police force. Our second joint runner up, Law and Order: Code Enforcement by MalcolmMcEasy is a cop show for a world running out of acronyms. Don't cross the Code Enforcement team, or you may find yourself up against the hanging judge! Our first place winner is a stylish and well-made piece that demonstrates the power of a good score and great editing: MSPD Crackdown by drudges.

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