Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Seven Sins is live!

Harb40's annual Passion contest has kicked off, and this time I'm on the judging panel! The challenge this time is create a movie which references at least two of the Seven Deadly Sins. What fun! I don't really have a favourite sin... they're all good!
I'll be looking for originality, believable dialogue, and good technical execution, among other things. Movies are not limited to any specific platform, and they don't even have to be machinima - live action is accepted too, so come on get filming!
Speaking on behalf of the judges I know we're all expecting some terrific entries, and for good reason - there's some killer prizes available.
To enter the competition and check the submission rules (and see the prizes on offer), see the official thread on the TMUnderground forums here.
Good luck to all entrants.
On another topic... following my visit to Bracknell Film Society last week, Julia (who organised the screening) sent me some of the comments that the attendees wrote on their feedback forms. I love getting feedback (good and bad) on my movies, but these ones were very interesting for me because the audience were previously completely unaware of machinima. Here are the comments;
  • Unusual and very worthwhile showing
  • Good and very well made
  • Interesting technique; I enjoyed the story
  • Interesting storyline and a technique well worth exploring further
  • A stimulating introduction to an original aspect of the cinema art form
  • Chilling
  • Film equivalent of 1984
  • An interesting technique - but can it catch on?
  • A technique that gives the man in the street the chance to tell a tale
  • The medium, and the talk about how the film was made, were fascinating
  • Strange! Did not enjoy the film, but found the talk interesting
  • An excellent view of a dystopian world
  • Compares well with "proper" films of the genre
  • Sorry - I didn't understand it
  • Didn't really understand it, but congratulations to the enthusiastic film maker, hope he works on a positive machinima film next time

The overall score came out at about 7 (the main feature "The Swenkas" got 8), so I'm pretty pleased with that. But what I was really pleased about was the fact that these comments described machinima as a technique. I'm pretty sure I didn't say that in my little talk, but it's something I feel quite strongly about - machinima is a technique, it is not a genre in itself. I'm not even sure that I'd consider it to be an artform. But it is definately a film making technique, and I think that over time it will be a technique which will increasingly be combined with other techniques so that the final form will no longer be machinima as such, just a film which comprises machinima and a variety of other techniques.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Bracknell Screening

The screening at Bracknell Film Society was a great success. There was a good turnout, and there were some great questions asked, which for me is always an indicator that people are genuinely interested in the movie.
Part of my introduction touches on the problems of IP infringement that can occur when making machinima, and the fact that tools like Moviestorm and iClone provide a very tidy solution (at least as far as the animation tool is concerned). This led to some questions about using open source game engines as the animation tool. I have to confess I'm not very knowledgeable about open source software, and I couldn't think of any open source game engines when the question was asked. However, when chatting to some of the members in the bar afterwards I remembered that there is now an open source version of the Unreal engine available now (an engine which is a great favourite of mine - Unreal Tournament 2004 is probably my all-time favourite game, before UT started taking itself too seriously with the hideous UTIII). Actually, now that I've just typed this I've remembered about all that great Open Sim stuff that Kate Fosk does. Jeez, I've got a lousy memory when I need it!
I was also asked whether my movies begin with the story, or do I draw inspiration by building scenes. The answer I gave is that it always begins as a story in my head which I then write down as a short story before converting it into a script, then a storyboard (which probably isn't a storyboard in the proper sense - I tend to just jot down descriptions of what will be seen, and occassionaly scribble a little thumbnail sketch). Usually there will be important scenes which I will see clearly in my mind before I shoot anything. The rest of the time I set up the action before concentrating on lighting and cameras.
Anyway, the Bracknell Film Society were really welcoming, and I got a real kick out of seeing the description of Clockwork in the glossy brochure that the South Hill Park Cinema produced.
That's it for film society screenings for now I think. I'm taking a bit of a break for the rest of the summer (although I'm continuing to tinker with "Ruth").
Other news just in - Clockwork will be showing at Dragon*Con 2010 in Atlanta this coming September. I love Atlanta, but I won't be able to attend in person this year. They had expressed an interest in both Clockwork and Embers, but in the end settled on just Clockwork.
Naturally I'm delighted, and I think the movie will be a great fit for the audience. Personally, I think that Embers is a better made movie, and my skills with the software certainly improved in the time between making Clockwork and Embers. I'm not exactly sure why Clockwork continues to be preferred over Embers, other than the slightly controversial end to Embers. As I always say in my film society introductions, making machinima is a bit like making home brewed beer; you're never quite sure how it'll turn out until it's ready, you need to make an awful lot of it before you manage to make something that's really palatable, and once you do it's really hard to recreate that success!
Oh well, I'll continue "doing my thing" for now. I have my principles* you know!

*actually I don't.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Screening at Bracknell Film Society

This coming Tuesday 13th July I'll be at the Bracknell Film Society who have added Clockwork to the programme. It's the first time I've shown anything there, and I'm looking forward meeting everyone.
The Society have their screenings at the South Hill Park Cinema - if you can make it you should come along!

I also have some other news. I have a new film underway which I hope to have completed by the end of the summer. It is called "Ruth", and tells the story of a mysterious passenger on board a London commuter train in Victorian England. This will be quite a departure from my previous fare, and I had originally planned to make this in iClone, however as I was finding the software difficult to get to grips with and the results rather disappointing I switched back to Moviestorm.
Progress has been steady although I've encountered the old audio synch problem that I had last year once again. The last time the problem just disappeared on its own, but not until I'd completed Embers. I can work around the problem but it actually creates an extra step in the rendering process, and greatly slows progress down.
Anyway, one way or another I'll have something to show soon!