Tuesday, 20 December 2011

FILE Rio 2010

Got of lovely email this morning from Fernanda Albuquerque de Almeida who is the Machinima Curator at FILE Brazil. FILE is the Electronic Language International Festival which takes place at various locations in Brazil, and I'm fortunate enough to have had several screenings there before.
Fernanda wrote to tell me that Trichophagia will be screened at FILE Rio 2012, which takes place at the Art Galery of Oi Futuro - Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro from March 12 to April 08.
As soon as I know more information, I'll let you the details!
As I mentioned a few posts ago I have a new script. Most of the voices are in the can, just one more to go before I go into film-making mode proper. In past years I've really made use of the time off over Christmas to jump into making machinima. This year, although I've got this new project to kick off, I'm planning on taking it easy. I'll probably just dip into it from time to time and see how long it takes me.
For you machinima makers out there - do you relish the idea of a bit of time off work to get cracking on your latest creation, or do you prefer to just chip away whenever you can?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Vive fran├žaise machinima

The annual Atopic Machinima festival in Paris is coming up this month. It's the third year I've had a film selected for screening there. The first year I was able to go over and enjoy some great films, and meet some interesting people. As always, I had hoped to attend in person again, but due to my workload this won't be possible.
As I type this, I have the French version of Trichophagia rendering specially for the festival. Rather than simply adding subtitles, I've edited every single speech bubble - it was a long, boring, manual task as I hadn't ever intended to do a translated version, so it wasn't really designed for easy editing in that way. The size and location of each bubble couldn't be changed (easily), and some of the text took up a different amount of space to the English equivalent (a problem that is familiar to anyone who has ever had to deal with localising printed material for example). This meant that the point size and leading for each bubble text needed to be adjusted. In addition, it took me a while to find a font that would work - Lucy George who did an amazing job in providing a translated version of the script recommended using mixed case text so that the accents were apparent. Good advice I thought, until I realised that the font I had used in the English version didn't have lower case characters, nor did it have European accents.
I have to say that in the early hours of this morning I was wishing I'd just copied and pasted the subtitles across, and stuck them in Ariel or something equally uninspiring.
Anyway, fingers crossed that the final render looks good.
The majority of movies to be screened at the festival are French, so I'm not too familiar with them. But there are some solid award-winning movies in there that I do recognise - especially Ian Chisholm's Clear Skies 3, and an old favourite of mine Orientation by Chantal Harvey.
If you get the chance to go then I do recommend it!


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Trichophagia at MachinExpo 2011!

Just got news this morning that Trichophagia will be screened at Machinima Expo 2011! The Expo weekend is the 19 and 20 November in SecondLife, but films will be screened for the preceeding week, and for the week after. Keep an eye on the Machinima Expo blog for further details.
Thanks to Ricky Grove, Kate Fosk, Kate Lee and Damien Valentine (who comprise the screening team)for selecting my movie.
I'll need to dust down my Steampunk costume if I'm to make an appearance!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Andover screenings, more submissions, and a new script...

The Andover screenings for Ruth went well. The venue had changed from the original plan to a much larger auditorium in the Andover multiplex cinema - this meant that while the capacity had greatly increased it happened too late in the day to publicise it to a larger audience with the result that there were quite a few empty seats in the auditorium. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the event - there were some terrific little movies shown including a deliciously dark comedy called A Fine Wine which doesn't seem to be available online anywhere yet. My movie was well received and I was complimented for the style of the dialogue which (I'm told) was authentic (the story being set in Victorian times).
I've now also submitted Trichophagia to a three more festivals - Atopic in Paris, Machinima Expo in Second Life, and Animarte which takes place across several locations in Latin America. I should really submit more movies to more events, it's just all the paperwork I can't be bothered with!
A special mention should be made for Machinima Expo though - this is the single most important online event in the Machinima calendar. And although it takes place in Second Life, the machinima that is shown is from across the entire spectrum whether it's SL based, game based, scripted (Moviestorm. Iclone, Muvizu) or a mashup of them all. It really is worth attending to broaden your awareness of what's going on out there.
Final bit of news for today. I've officially shelved the second part of Trichophagia. Yes, I thought you'd be disappointed. But the good news is, I've just completed a new script and have started set building. This movie, takes me in yet another direction - so it's not a bleak dystopian tale, nor a twisted sci-fi. I'll post more about it once there's some real progress (such as completing the voice recording) and I have some screenies to show.
Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Trichophagia accepted for Bitfilm, and some other stuff

Bitfilm was the first film competition that I ever entered with Clockwork, a couple of years ago, and when I saw their call for entries recently I thought that perhaps Trichophagia might be a good candidate. I submitted it just before the closing deadline, and I'm pretty chuffed to see it's been accepted. Not sure how well it will do, but it feels good to be doing something with the movie.

This week I have two screenings of Ruth at the Andover FilmFest which takes place on Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 September at the Reel Cinema in Andover. The event is a fund raiser for the Andover Film Society who were the first such society to screen one of my films on the big screen. I'm going to go along to do a little intro, and to take any questions - if you're in the area it would be great to see you there!

As I've mentioned on this blog before, I'm really not very sure which direction my film making will take in the future, however I was really impressed with this short movie by Scott Hather which was made in Blender. It's a bit reminiscent of early computer animation in that it doesn't feature any organic or lifelike content - but it's a lovely demonstration of the physics engine in Blender, and it's fascinating to watch. And Blender certainly is capable of some simply stunning animation as seen in multi-award winning movie Sintel. The software itself looks terrifying when you launch it though. If I'm going to do anything with it I'll need some good tutorials for idiots to get me started. I had thought of ordering Blender for Dummies but the online reviews don't seem too good, and it is criticised for a lack of tutorials. If anyone has any recommendations as to how to get started then I'm all ears!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Six months later...

Oh heck, I knew it was time for an update, but I no idea I'd left it six months!
Well, to be honest there's not a great deal to update you on as I've not been terribly creative lately - busy with work, our new(ish) dog, and I was unwell for a while too. But there are two screenings coming up which I'd like to mention. The first is today at Dragon*Con in Atlanta (yes, I know I'm not giving you much notice). The show starts at 7pm at the Sheraton Savannah room, and the programme includes Trichophagia which I'm hoping will really strike a chord with the audience - if not the story then at least the visual treatment.
Then, on September 26 and 27 there is a fund-raising screening event hosted by Andover Film Society. This was the first film society that screened any of my movies - Clockwork, and I'm really excited to be invited back for this. This time they'll show Ruth, which I think will also be a perfect fit for the film society audience. I'll be there to introduce the movie, and to take any questions.
So, you're probably wondering how long it will be before I update this blog again. I'm hoping it will be sooner than six months, for that to happen I think I need to rearrange things at home a bit - at the moment my PC is tucked away in one of the bedrooms (where the dog isn't allowed) so my plan is to move it downstairs and retire the old PC which my youngest son uses. Of course, I'll need to replace it with something first, and I don't have a solution to that yet...
Also, I'm going to have to get back into Moviestorm. I think it is obvious to everyone that the company has been struggling. At the back of my mind there is a worry that should they cease trading while I'm half-way through a movie... well what then? Will my time have been wasted? Will I still have access to the software if there's no one "at the other end" (in case you're not familiar with how the software operates, it needs to "phone home" periodically to confirm you have a valid subscription.)
And this subscription business has been a bugbear of mine for a long time; when the software emerged from the public beta programme as a fully formed commercial product, rather than selling it in the same way as Microsoft, Adobe, Sony et al, it was decided to make it available on a subscription basis. Okaaaaaay... but my goodness it was a complicated affair trying to figure out which subscription was best. I couldn't shake off the feeling that whichever one I went for I was going to lose out somehow. In the end, there was a "lifetime subscription" option, which was effectively the same as buying it. I think. But by then I had a subscription, and I'd lost interest following the lengthy debates which were taking place on-line.
But now there's good news! That's right, you can now buy Moviestorm, just like a proper packaged application from Amazon. It only costs £156, and I'm assuming that contains some content packs (haven't researched this yet, but the guys at Moviestorm are known for their generosity!) I really hope would-be machinimators sit up and take notice because now they can buy everything they need to get started in one go!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

So that's part one out of the way...

When I wrote the screenplay for Trichophagia, it was intended to be a short standalone movie (as all of my others are). It was supposed to be a bit "out there", with the exact explanation as to what is going on tantalisingly out of reach for the viewer. In other words, it was meant to have some loose ends.
But during filming, things change. For example, the opening sequence was turned into the comic-book flashback sequence which now happens after the scene has been set. And the final line that is spoken was meant to be heard after the screen fades to black, but I thought "wouldn't it be cool to actually see what the leeching room looks like", so I expanded a bit on that.
But something else became apparent while filming; the movie was going to be a bit shorter than I'd anticipated (I always find that hard to gauge), and there were maybe a few too many loose ends.
If you haven't already watched the movie then this is probably a good place to stop reading and go watch!
My mind started playing around with some ideas. Now one of the things I hate, Hate, HATE, is TV series that draw you in and yet you know that the writers themselves haven't quite figured out how it's all going to finish. Basically they're making it up as they go along (examples would be Lost, FlashForward, The Event, Invasion, The Fantastic Journey, and possibly even Twin Peaks). However, when Trichophagia was finally completed, I had to admit it didn't seem quite... well, complete.
So, I'm announcing today that there will be a second part to Trichophagia to bring it to a complete conclusion. You'll discover who the captors are, who the captives are, and crucially - what happens to them.
Although I have the ideas very clearly in my mind I haven't commited them to paper yet. As always I'm going to take my time with this, and I won't be cutting any corners to complete Trichophagia II.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Trichophagia to premier on Indy Theater

Well Trichophagia is now locked and loaded for it's first public screening at Indy Theater (previously known as TMU Theater) on 25 February at 9pm (UK).

Normally, when I complete a movie I like to get it out into the wild as soon as possible, but I'd been chatting with D.L. Watson, the proprietor of Indy Theater, about possibly doing a premier at the theater while I was working on Ruth. When that movie was complete I didn't think that it was quite right for the online machinima audience (I was wrong), and vowed that my next movie would have it's first showing at Indy.
I think that Trichophagia is possibly much more usual fare for those who enjoy machinima - although I like to think that it's a bit of a strange movie because... well... it is! Again, I could be wrong...
Visually, it's inspired by graphic novels and comic books (as I previously posted), but most exciting (for me anyway!) it's the first time that it has had a custom score written for it. This time, Paul Radford (Chill) very kindly developed a score which fits perfectly with the dark, gritty visuals, and helps raise the tension. Chill indeed! Working with Paul was very easy as he immediately understood what I was looking for, and took my feedback and suggestions very positively - I know that we creative folks sometimes don't like others treading on our ideas! It's the first time I've had a positive experience from collaboration (after the sad demise of "Gridlock"). I'm sure I'll be doing more stuff with Paul in the future.
There's also a number of custom models which were developed for the movie, without which I wouldn't have been able to create it - so thanks to Ian West, Chris Dyer, Squirrelygirl, and John Herd (who created a model for me in record time.)
OK. that's all for now. Hope to see you at the premier!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Movies? Schmoovies!


For the Atopic festival in Paris last December a jury of 13 respected media experts and commentators selected 23 films from the 67 machinima submissions. Nothing remarkable in that, and the final list was a good representation of all that's good in machinima at the moment.

However, there was a comment in the notification email which intrigued me. It said;

"This selection shows that Machinima has matured in the use of the tool and was able to develop a narrative and aesthetic quality. However, it lacks more proposals relating to experimental and to the documentary. Machinima is still too inspired by the cinematic codes."

And it was that last bit about still being too inspired by cinematic codes that caught my attention. Ever since I began playing around with machinima I've considered cinema to represent the ultimate benchmark. If I could make movies which looked good on a cinema screen, and could entertain a cinema audience then that would be a major achievement. So that has always been my goal.

Now I don't think I've been barking up the wrong tree. Personally I have no desire to make documentaries in machinima, and to do successful experimental movies I think you have to be very, very good. Which I'm not. But I did take heed. What other visual medium could I turn to for inspiration?

My new movie, a dark little production called Trichophagia, is drawing some of it's visual themes from comic books. We're in the home straight now, and I hope to be able to publish it soon. Here's an image which is used as part of a flashback sequence. Note that this is a movie, it's not all static images like this.