So what is machinima? Machinima is a film filmed in an interactive computer generated environment without the use of professional 3D animation software. Basically, a film filmed in a computer game or virtual world. Machinima started out on First Person Shooters and MMORPGs. Now, more people are using virtual worlds like Second life to create machinima because you can pretty much do whatever you want on Second Life, which is great for filming.
Now, what is good machinima? I (Susi Spicoli) myself have made quite a lot of machinima, and I’m going to share with you some tips and techniques on how to make a simple, but decent, machinima. Making long, very good machinima is a very complicated process, really not that different in many (but not all) aspects from making a “real” movie, but you can still make good simple machinima with not much effort and time.
So, first off you’ll need a script. This should have info on what the overall story is, but then also where the scene is and of course what an actor or narrator is saying, in subtitles or voice. Next up comes the filming. You’ll need filming software for this. For PC, a lot of people use Fraps and for Mac users (which is pretty much all I am using now) I would recommend SnapProX or Screen Capture.
Ok, now you have filming software you need to actually film it. If your filming a Story machinima then you’ll need actors. Often you can just ask some friends to help out. You’ll also need a decent set for filming. I sometimes build custom ones for the more complicated things, or I ask friends if I can use their scene (make sure you’ll give them credit in the film at least).
The rest is pretty much up to you in terms of filming but you will need to adjust your filming style to suit what type of machinima you’re filming, a storyline machinima, a commercial machinima or a machinima promoting something etc.
Here are some tips on how to avoid making your shots during filming look completely amateurish:
- Don’t repeat the same type of shots over and over again. For example, don’t zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, zoom out, zoom in, zoom out etc.
- Try not to confuse the people watching the machinima. Don’t randomly film someone else when someone is talking. Best is to think about what you want to accomplish (that’s what the script is for) and pick the right filming angle for that.
- In making machinima, the one huge advantage is that it’s totally easy to film things that are very difficult and expensive to do in “real” film. So-called dolly shots, crane shots, steady cam (the spooky angles you see in Shining), all that is child’s play in a machinima. But as they say “a fool with a tool is still a fool”. So if you don’t know what you are doing conceptually, your film still won’t be very good.
Finally comes the editing. Often this is where you really determine whether it’s going to be a good or bad machinima. The raw footage is the basis, and you have to have some decent scenes, but you can even with bad footage improve the story a lot by what you do in the editing phase. Here you can use (I just know the mac programs), iMovie on the low end (but you can actually do a lot with it) and Final Cut Pro/Studio for the high end (and I really mean high end, big budget cinema movies are edited with this tool). Again, in editing, having these great tools, that are so much more powerful than what real film makers used to have, still doesn’t mean you’ll make a great movie. You still have to think, write, plan, work hard.
I am thinking to perhaps open a film school, with professional partners, in Second Life. So people can learn about the concepts and practice.
Until then, if you want to come to see what others have done, bring your friends and come to my “machinima gallery”, in Ochreous. Twenty different machinima makers all have their own invidual cinema there and can watch their movies there, or you come to one of my machinima screenings in my drive-in/fly-in movie theatre.
If you want to see a few examples of machinima, here are some of the ones I did:
A music machinima, for the launch of a RL CD by Fabrice Collette
A documentary, commissioned by the NMC about a SL sculpture exhibition (including my own music)
or, in general, about my activities .
And, finally, my office is here.
*Written by Susi Spicoli and posted by Intellagirl Tully