Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Machinexpo 2009

Last Sunday was the main event at Machinexpo 2009. This is an online machinima festival that takes place in Second Life. I had never used Second Life until a week before the event when I installed it and logged on for the first time. I had two movies showing; Cloud Angel, and Clockwork. The latter having been nominated for a jury award.
I had been booked as one of a number of guests (or so I thought) to do a Q&A with Phil "Overman" Rice and Ricky Grove who were doing a live edition of the Overcast during the event. To make sure it all worked OK I went along to the technical rehearsal the week before. Ricky and Phil were very helpful in sorting out the voicechat settings, and explaining some of the movement and camera controls that weren't so obvious to me.
The event kicked off with a keynote speech by Tracy Harwood who is the Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies. This was followed by the awards, which were chosen by a jury panel (I'm not sure who was on the jury).
Jury Prizes were awarded to Cafe Insomniac by Hardy Capo, Clear Skies 2 by Ian Chisholm, Push by Lainy Voom (who also won a Special Achievement in Directing Award), Shelf Life by James Spencer & Jon Shortland, and Scripted by Krrysh Spyker. I won the grand prize for Clockwork. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I was!
After the awards I had to log off for a bit to deal with some real-world responsibilities (i.e. feed the kids!), before returning for the Overcast, which I enjoyed very much (especially when I learned that machinima is coming to the Kindle...!)
I really enjoyed the whole Second Life experience; the venue was brilliantly designed, with lots of fun details built-in, and the technology itself worked very well; the media streaming and the voice chat. And it was great to "meet" so many people that I know from the various forums.
However, much as I enjoyed the whole online aspect, I continue to believe that there could be some sort of future for machinima in the real world. I enjoy meeting the real people behind the movies, and in a way Second Life goes completely the opposite way; you're meeting with avatars which are probably not that representative of their "owners" (or whatever the correct term is). However, it was fun and I'm sure I'll go along next year.
So congratulations to all the winners, and a huge thank you to the team who organised the event - it was very professionally put together!


  1. Yes, so glad you were available for the Q&A for the Overcast. We were really working not to tip you off that you had won the Grand Prize. And very much enjoyed talkign with you about Clockwork. And thanks for making the effort to come into Second Life. It's really a great place for meetings, but you are right, of course, a real life event would be more effective. Unfortunately, the American Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences (AMAS) chose not to have their annual Machinima festival in New York this year. The Expo is not meant to replace that event, but to provide a virtual opportunity for people who can't afford to fly to New York from where they live in the world.

    The judges, by the way, were announced several months ago on the Expo blog and are composed of a variety of industry related people and Machinima creators. I've also outlined the method we used to judge the films that were submitted. Armand Constantine, game writer (Far Cry), Tari Akpodiete (media writer/machinma filmmaker), Friedrich Kirschner (machinima filmmaker, programmer), Joey O'bryan (professional screenwriter) and Michelle Petit-Lee (game developer Bioware) were the judges this year. Kudos to them for their efforts.

    And thanks again for your positive comments. We were delighted you could come. Next years Expo is already in the planning stages.

  2. So that's who the judges were! I had a chat with Michelle as the Overcast was starting, had I realised she was on the panel I would have thanked her profusely! (And the rest of the jury too!)