Porn and expression - two pieces of evidence for Machinima development

I’ve come across a couple of interesting pieces of work lately.

First up, “Alan Smithee” (aka some Moviestorm director who doesn’t want to be identified) has produced, yes, some Machinima (soft) porn (NSFW, but nothing too shocking):

Why’s this interesting? Well, there’s always been a bit of an odd shortage of porn created in Machinima - the occasional bit, but nothing like the flood you’d expect. And this is the first piece of Machinima erotica that actually kinda works. “Sexy” has always been one of those areas where Machinima falls down, so it’s very interesting to see that we’re starting to be able to invoke it, even in quite a crude way.

Why does it work, to the extent that it does? Camerawork is a big part - it’s not just about showing mostly-naked people, it’s also about leading the eye in a teasing, intimate or revelatory way. Subtle animations help, too.

Another interesting element - the areas in which the film doesn’t work. Notably, the walk cycle. We tend not to think too much about the qualities of characters’ walk cycles, but for me, here, the walk cycle of the second character totally breaks the flow of the movie, and destroys the illusion - it’s such a male walk. Interesting to note the effect that a well-made but inappropriate animation can have.

Next up, we have some evidence that Half-Life 2 is continuing to develop to become a very credible engine for all sorts of Machinima creation. Previously, most HL2 work I’ve seen has either been based on the gameworld or carefully limited to minimise the need for new assets (Monad, Jill’s Song) - however, Shelf Life is a very impressive piece of work set, as far as I can tell, outside the HL2 universe, and with a sprawling list of characters and sets.

It’s decidedly slow, but has a genuinely interesting plot, some excellent voice actors, and all the other stuff I keep banging on about being important. Most interestingly, it really shows off why I HL2 currently produces much more watchable-without-game-background Machinima than most other engines (the common thread with the Moviestorm piece) - it’s expressive, the characters’ models have actual character which you can build a personality around, and it’s possible to tell stories and story beats using character expressions and eye movements.

Nothing else so far (sorry, Moviestorm - you’re closest, but not there yet) has managed this level of expression. And if that’s being married with an increasing availability of content and freedom for Machinima creators in the HL2 universe, we could see some very interesting things in the future.