Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 has left the building

As is traditional for the season it's time to reflect on the year that has been, and to look forward to the year ahead. 2012 was a bit of an odd year for me. For me it was not particularly productive, and yet very successful from a machinima point of view (more on that in a bit). However my 2012 was blighted by some health issues which sapped my creativity quite a lot. Fortunately nothing life-threatening, but it was a bit of crap journey this year.
However, on the upside I did manage to get some movies shown on the big screen at several local events, including the Red Carpet Screenings which takes place in my home town of Basingstoke. But the highlight of the year must surely be the Machinima Expo. I had entered the Chapelside Deception for the Expo, which saw a total of 150 films submitted for consideration. Of those, ten were put forward to the independent jury and I was lucky enough to be joint winner of the Open This End award. Then to my amazement I went on to with the Jury Grand Prize! This recognition is a huge honour for me - I never take any of these awards for granted especially considering how strong the other candidate movies were. I think I'm right in saying that I'm the only director to have won the Grand Prize twice - I am humbled!
There were many brilliant films in the Expo, but two that I particularly liked (both were award winners) are Wulf and Eadwacer by Hypathia Pickens, and Unfinished Paintings by Miron Locket. Go ahead and check them out!
So what for 2013? Well, if you were listening to the interview I did on TMOA radio last night you would have heard me announcing my "retirement" from making machinima. By the end of the interview I'd been talked out of it! I still have plenty of ideas, both in terms of stories and visual style. It would be a shame to completely stop now so instead I'll take a little break before coming back to it afresh.
I'll sign off now by wishing you a happy and prosperous 2013!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

We're there!

Machinima Expo 2012 has officially opened its doors, with the screening reel already playing over on LiveStream. The big event though is this weekend with a packed schedule of discussion topics including demos of the major animation platforms used to make "grown-up" machinima.
It all comes to a crescendo on Sunday with the 5th Annual Expo Awards. As mentioned previously, my little football flick The Chapelside Deception is in with a chance of a gong - let's see how it does...!
The Machinima Expo takes place within Second Life, although you can choose to watch via LiveStream if you prefer. If you've never tried Second Life then I'd recommend you have a bash - it's free to sign up, and you can have a blast creating your online avatar. At some point you'll want to get dressed up, and my advice is make sure you've got a Second Life friend on hand to help you out if you want to get involved in any of that malarkey. Last time I tried to get changed I ended up stark naked with no idea of how to recover my clothes (I'm talking about in Second Life of course). Anyways, you should try it, it's fun!
Looking at the schedule you'll see that it's all very clearly laid out with start times for each session. The times refer to Second Life time, which essentially equates to Los Angeles time. If you're in the UK, we're eight hours ahead of LA, so this means the Second Life shenanigans begins at 5pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Hope to see you there at some point, and if it's Sunday I'll either be sipping my virtual champagne, or crying in my virtual soup. Which will it be...?
Some links which you might find useful:
Machinima Expo website
Midnight Manhattan Reverie in Second Life (you'll need to have set up an SL account to get in)
Programme Schedule
List of Screeners

Have fun at the Expo!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Machinima Expo 2012

I submitted 'Chapelside for the Expo this year (it was the only film I'd made in the past twelve months - each film seems to take longer and longer to finish!) and I was eagerly awaiting news as to whether it was going to be selected for screening.
I heard this week that not only has it been accepted, but it made it onto the shortlist for the Jury prize! In total there were 150 submissions, 10 made it to the shortlist for the Jury to consider. I'm honoured, thrilled, and humbled to say the least! The organisers of the Expo have generously arranged for all 10 shortlisted movies to be submitted to the New Media Film Festival, including the submission fee!
I'm looking forward to the Expo this year, and to get you in the mood, you can see the trailer here.
There's also a great article about the Expo at SingularityHUB
Thanks to the Machinima Expo screening team: Ricky Grove, Kate Fosk, Damien Valentine, thebiz, Sean Heimbuch and Eddie Duggan.

Red Carpet Screenings

If you're wondering how the Red Carpet Screenings event went, I'd have to say very well!
The format worked really well; after each movie was screened the director was invited down to be interviewed by Seb Hall who organised the event, and then questions were taken from the floor. Then, after all the movies have been shown a guest critic was invited down to give their view on each movie.
The venue layout was ideal for this with a Jonathon Ross/Jay Leno style stage laid out below the projection screen.
Mixing machinima with more conventional movies is always a bit worrying for me, because I'm never sure if the audience will take my movies seriously when compared to the other fare on offer. However, Seb is a naturally relaxed interviewer and sets his guests at ease instantly. I tend to just pretend I know what I'm talking about, and so far I think I've managed to get away with it (not long till I get found out though, I fear...)

A huge pat on the back for Seb Hall for pulling the screenings together - well done!

The date for the next Red Carpet Screening event has been announced - 03 November. I don't think I'll be able to go along because it clashes with the local Guy Fawkes fireworks, however I do hope to get along to future screenings.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Big-Screen Premiere for Chapelside

Well the big news I have today is that The Chapelside Deception will be shown on the big screen for the first time this weekend at the Red Carpet Screenings which is part of the Basingstoke Festival. It's the first year of the festival which is intended to "showcase the wealth of talent and community spirit [in Basingstoke]", and I'm thrilled to be part of it.
In fact, there are two screening programmes; one on Saturday which will include Clockwork, and then on Sunday the Chapelside Deception will be shown. The event will have coverage from BBC Radio Berkshire (even though Basingstoke is actually in Hampshire...), and from Screen South.
The thing I really like about these types of events is the chance to meet other film makers, and see what they've created whatever medium they work in. Although I've not been to the Red Carpet Screenings before (in fact, I wasn't even aware of them), I did uncover this little gem when doing my research. It's by Pork Chop Pictures, and is called Meat, and it's not for the faint hearted - enjoy!
Also, I've just submitted Chapelside to the Machinima Expo. The expo is probably the single most important event in the machinima calendar (you didn't know we had a calendar, did you?) so I'll keep you posted as to whether it gets accepted.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

And... relax!

Finally, finally, The Chapelside Deception has been published!
You can see it on YouTube here, or on Vimeo here.
The film has a football theme, but it's not about football per se. I'm not actually that interested in football, but the off-pitch stories do sometimes intrigue me. I was originally driven to write the script by the obvious and apparent corruption which contaminates the entire game from the top to the bottom. It's clear to me that there's something rotten at the core of Fifa - and I'm thinking about the way the Russian and Qatar World Cup Final competitions were awarded. It's not just sour grapes because England didn't get it (as I said, football isn't really my bag, and besides I'm Scottish!), but the fact that the English bid was far and away the best one, and the favourite until money started changing hands...
Then we had the vote for the new Fifa president, with only one candidate (the incumbent). And that was because the only other candidate was... well... got rid of shall we say? Yep, something isn't right at the top.
And what really is the objection to using video for goal line judging? How many times have we seen TV replays showing the wrong decision was made. Is there a sinister shadow of corruption settling on the game...?
OK, so before I say something that get's me into trouble, let me also say that the I had originally set out to create something like The Damned United, which was a fine film that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Let me know what you think about The Chapelside Deception.
Oh, and if you happen to run into Bob Johnson, I'd love to hear what he's up to these days!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sod it!

As I feared when I wrote my previous post, the new name doesn't feel right. Henceforth, my new movie will indeed be called The Chapelside Deception. I imagine it'll mostly be abbreviated to Deception, which is fine by me!
Nothing more to see here - please move along!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Naming Dilema

You know when you hear that someone has had a baby, but they don't have a name for it yet? What is that all about? Was the baby a surprise? Was nine months not enough time to come up with a couple of names in preparation? And what about those parents who give their child a name, then after a month or so decide to change it? As you can probably tell, I'm a bit perlexed by this behaviour.
Then I experienced it for myself this week.
I've been working on a movie for some time now (seven months in fact, almost enough time to make a baby!) and the movie is nearing completion (just a bit of post-production and tidying up to do). At the point I wrote the script I didn't have a title for the movie, so it was just called "Football" as that is the theme. It tells the story of Chapelside FC who, in the 1970s, as they struggle to survive off the field (financially), as well as on the field (their ambitions for promotion to the top tier of English football).
Of course, all is not as it seems... so, as the movie was nearing completion I settled on a name for it; The Chapelside Deception.
I even did a poster which will be used for promoting the film online.
Within 24 hours of publishing the poster, I'd decided I wasn't happy with the name. Can't say exactly why, maybe it's not snappy enough - I really don't know. And I doubt anyone else really cares anyway, but it seems to me that after all this effort it really should have a name that I can live with. It's not the first time I've had worries about a name - I nearly abandoned the name for Clockwork because another machinima movie with the same name was published just before mine. By then though it was a bit late to change, especially seeing as the script made passing reference to the title (which in turn was a nod to the original inspiration for the piece).
Anyway, back to Chapelside... as of now, and this could still change... my new movie will be called:


And I might still have The Chapelside Deception as a subtitle. We'll see.

Sorry for the indecision!

Here's the old poster - a new one will be along any day now...

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Cine/8760 - A 24 Hour Online Filmfest!

Talented iCloner AnimaTechnica has pulled together some of the best machinima and anymation available online to create an online film festival. It's a terrific compilation which gives a great view of the "state of the art". Cine/8760 is available here (not sure of the significance of the title). I suggest you hop along there pronto and start watching some great animation!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Movies that inspired me

There's a very interesting thread over on the Moviestorm forums where users have been asked to nominate their favourite movies for the Hall of Fame. It's basically a list of nominations, (although you're allowed to nominate your own movies, which seems a little odd to me. Even odder, you're allowed to nominate your own movies in secret by PMing Moviestorm!)
I've posted a list of movies which for a variety of reasons have inspired me along the way. Sometimes because of attention to detail, or overall quality, or because of the story, or because it was funny, etc. However, it's not just Moviestorm movies that have encouraged me along the way, so here's my list including movies shot in Second Life, The Movies, and other software;

The Unexpected, by Kkffoo
Saving Grace, by Sisch
Le Rondeau, by Primaveranz
I bin gat wat taem, by Primaveranz
Blue Knights: The Jumper, by act3scene24
Merry Christmas, Sweetheart (number 10), by act3scene24
Control Point, by Mellowhardy
Northern Lasses (series), by Luxaeternam
Albion, by Luxaeternam
Danse Macabre, by Poulet Noir
The Stolen Child, by Lainy Voom
The Wizard of OS, by Tom Jantol
The Shadow Over Innsmouth, by JosephKW
Coming Home, by Lizard
Orientation, by Chantal Harvey
Family Values, by Edan Mackenzie

Generally speaking, these directors only do good stuff - you can pick any of their completed movies and see something impressive. Hopefully there's something in this list that you haven't seen before.
I'd be interested to hear any recommendations you have for movies worth watching. (Other than your own of course...)

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Muvizu - First Impressions

Today I had a chance to see a demo of Muvizu for the first time, capably delivered by one of the developers. I've been aware of the software for some time now but haven't really properly investigated.
As you're probably aware Muvizu is an animation package built on the sublime Unreal engine. It is still in public beta but has a very slick, polished feel. What I was most impressed with were the camera focus and depth of field controls, and the beautiful lighting system which allows the director to create tremendously atmospheric and shadowy scenes.
The other striking thing about Muvizu is the cartoony nature of the characters and props. Any movie made with this software is gonna have to have a punch line!
David, who was demonstrating, claims that Muvizu isn't a competitor as such for Moviestorm (my current weapon of choice), and I'd have to agree, to a point. Sure, it's going to appeal to those of us with a creative need to make animations, but the type of movies you want to make are going to dictate the best tool for the job; you want thought-provoking drama? Moviestorm or iClone is probably the right tool. You want to have a stab at creating your own Toy Story or WallE? Muvizu has gotta be consideration.
Will I give it a go? Probably. If I can ever find the time, and right now isn't the time. Of course I'm notoriously impatient when it comes to learning new applications. But Muvizu did look very approachable.
Have you used it? How did you find it?