Rather than the traditional Guess what? I’m not dead! type of blog post, I’m going to break our recent hiatus by giving you a short list of exciting machinima-related happenings of recent times. If you subscribe to the indispensable Machinifeed, a lot of this will be old news, but I’m aware that not everyone does1. The Machinima Expo, in its moved-to-Second-Life-at-the-last-minute state, was a huge success. I get the impression that it was even more successful than the organisational team dared to hope.
Just a quick note- a friend of mine posted a brief and interesting piece on how she’s branding her ebook fiction - basically, attempting to develop a consistent theme and style for her work so that readers who are looking for a certain type of fiction will automatically come to her. It’s a good idea, particularly if you’re producing a large volume of fiction - carve yourself out a “position”, to use marketing terminology.
Looks like the 3D camera-based technologies are starting to hit. Mgestyk are showing off their new 3D gesture recognition system, which apparently recognises hand movements and gestures and translates them into computer control. That’s nice, of course, but what’s really interesting is that this technology could presumably also be used to recognise gestures as… gestures. Cheap home mocap, here we come. One to watch. Apparently the system will be “the price of a high-end webcam”.
A quick tip: If you’re creating a Machinima piece and you’re not a good enough musician to compose your own work, you should definitely check out music generation programs like Sony’s Acid or Apple’s Garageband. In many ways, programs like this offer a very “Machinima” approach to music creation - using pre-recorded loops, you can build up a surprisingly sophisticated and varied selection of instrumental music, very quickly. I’ve been using them on Kamikaze Cookery to great effect - this trailer’s music took about an hour, for example.
Expect a drop in posting frequency around here for the next few months, I’m afraid. I’m launching a new non-machinima series (a cooking show, as a matter of fact) right now, so I’m going to be focussing pretty hard on that. Johnnie will still be holding down the fort here, but Moviestorm’s also stepping up, so he’s likely to be pretty busy too. Don’t worry, though - we will be back.
We’ve just heard the bad news that the Machinima Expo - organised as part of Festival Arcadia by Phil Rice, Ricky Grove, Ingrid Moon and Damien Valentine - has been cancelled, at least in its originally proposed form. You can read the full sad story at the Expo blog. After the time, effort and expense that the four organisers have poured into it, this is a real shame. The Expo was shaping up to be a superb event for machinimators.
Whilst there have been a couple of reports on Siggraph 2008, the premiere graphics conference held in LA last month, no-one’s really talked about the academic papers that were presented there. Since these tend to represent the cutting edge of graphics technology that we can expect to be using in between two and five years, I thought it was worth having a quick look over what came out there. I wasn’t at Siggraph, so I’m going from the list of papers maintained here.
It has just occurred to us that we’ve not mentioned this. Johnnie and I will be running two workshops at the Cambridge Film Festival in just under two weeks, on the Monday and the Tuesday (22nd and 23rd), entitled “Make a Film In Your Lunch Hour”. We’ll be teaching anyone attending not just how to use the tools, but how to make a, hopefully pretty decent, mini-film, all in an hour!
The final list of films to be shown in the Cambridge Film Festival’s Machinima lineup has been posted, and it’s a great selection, including both absolute classics (Red vs Blue, Snow Witch, Male Restroom Etiquette) and stuff even I’ve not heard of! This is looking like a really good event. Stay tuned for a rundown of the event itself later in the week. Reminder - the Machinima program is on the 22nd and 23rd of September, in Cambridge, UK.
When we finished off the feature-length cut of BloodSpell, one of the single biggest and most impressive changes we made was going over the entire project with colour-correction tools. The results were astounding - the colours were brighter, deeper, more vibrant, and the entire project benefitted as a result. Since then, I’ve been recommending that anyone who makes digital video has to get into colour-correction. I’ve just been using Colorista, a colour-correction package that a pro editor friend of mine pointed me at, and it’s sufficiently impressive that I had to mention it here.