Thursday, December 24, 2009

Machinima@Miami Animation Festival

Phil Rice has put together an excellent line up of machinima films for the A.D.A.M. & E.V.E. Winter Break Mini Fest (an animation / digital arts festival). The one hour machinima program will be screening at the Miami Science Museum on December 27-28, 2009. I'm proud my last short film 'the Graveyard' made it into that screening.
Machinima Films screened at A.D.A.M. & E.V.E. Festival Miami

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset News

The community using the Dragon Age Toolset is steadily growing. Besides some Machinima tests I've not seen any Dragon Age Machinima so far, but that will change soon. Some members have already announced to work on a Machinima film.
The Dragon Age Forum has been better structured and now the Toolset has 6 sub-forums. One called 'Cutscenes' which is for disussions around Machinima and the tools to be used to create cinematics (like the cutscene and FaceFX editor). 'search' is now working as well in the forum.

A new version of the Toolset has been released (Version 1.01). This version fixes the missing FaceFX entry and now using the toolset should no longer interfere with playing the game.
And even better - it now has ALL the game assets form the single player campaign included (levels, cutscenes, etc.) . Ready to explore, learn from and ready use in your own mods or machinima. Single player and core resource source files are available as seperate downloads as well.

The number of video tutorials for the toolkit is growing.
DragonAge22's toolset video tutorials (now 12) where the last two are cutscene/machinima tutorials. DragonAge22's video's on YT

SilentCid has reworked and improved his video tutorials:
Cid's Video Tutorials ver. 2 parts 1,2, and 3
Cid's Video Tutorials Version 2 Part 4

Qkrch shows how to begin with the DA toolset, focused for the experienced NWN builder.
Videos are in youtube, HD enabled, spanish voice with English subtitles: Qkrch's Toolset tutorials Spanish/English sub

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blender 2.5 released

The first official testing release of Blender 2.5 has been released. Work on Blender 2.5 will proceed alongside the Durian open movie project, along with continued collaborative work from the worldwide developer community leading up to a fully stabilised and production ready Blender 2.6 release in mid 2010. This version of Blender has the Blender Game Engine (BGE) build in so it's a tool for Machinima as well. There might be some changes to the BGE implementation until 2.6 but that gives you enough time to learn the new interace and features of Blender. If you want to have control of everything in your production and as well have a tool with no EULA strings attached, have a look at Blender. Interested? Michael Fox has made some great videos about Blender 2.5 at his Blog 'Blender Labrat'

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset Tutorials

The community around the Dragon Age Toolset is very productive and besides the very helpful Toolset Wiki some members have already created great tutorials which I want to share with you:

st4rdog's Level creation tutorial

and his video tutorials:
Dragon Age Toolset - Tutorial 1 - Playable Area and Conversation
(3 more on YT as well)

Silentcid's Video Tutorials

dragonage22's Toolset tutorials (4 parts):
Dragon Age Toolset tutorial 1: Downloading and installing toolset

Neverwintergirl's Video Tutorial:
NWG Video Tutorial 1: How to Make an Interior Level with Lighting.

And as already posted this 6 part video tutorial for the toolset on
Dragon Age: Origins Toolset Video Demo #1
Available on YT as well at:
Dragon Age PAX Toolset Video #1

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fallopian Issue 2 live

Fallopian Issue 2 on Machinima & Education is live.
Fallopian Issue 2
This quarter Fallopian looks at the benefits, hazards and fun to be had when using machinima as a resource in an educational environment. Discussion id open on the Fallopian Facebook site, so any comments or feedback welcome.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fraps 3 released

A new version of Fraps has just been released. Fraps is now compatible with Windows 7 and the latest DirectX 11 games. Best news is that Fraps has now built-in support for stereoscopic 3D. NVIDIA have recently included stereoscopic 3D support directly into their drivers. If you play your DirectX9 (D3D9) game with 3D Vision enabled you can now use Fraps to record the game in full 3D too! You'll get a side-by-side stereo AVI recording that you can drop straight in to a stereoscopic 3D player.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FaceFX problem solved.

I really was happy when Jonathan Perry from Bioware replied to my last post that that FaceFX and RoboBrad (emotion generation) are absolutely 100% integrated/supported in the toolset. This is really a toolset made by machinimators for machinimators. And now we'll have in hand the tools they used to create the game and that amazing cutscenes. Even better just a few minutes later with the help of Michelle Pettit-Mee and Bryan Derksen from Bioware who pointed me to the solution for the missing FaceFX integration. It was just a missing registry entry for the FaceFX path.

Original forum post on that topic

After that repaired, now everything works as expected. Fully integrated FaceFX support. Now you can add convincing lipsync and emotions to your characters face with just a few mouseclicks. And have the full power of FaceFX to tweak it later if needed. Fantastic. Now it's on us to use the toolset to create great machinima films with it. A huge thank you again to Bioware an especially the cinematics team giving such a powerful tool in our hand to work with.

Even I thought I was careful with using the toolset, I noticed some problem with the gameplay that could be traced back to it. There is a solution to this, so in case you're game behaves strange have a look at this forum thread.

Forum post on how to fix problems with the game after running the toolset

I've still found some starneg behavoiu in the game, but right now don't know if these are side effects from the toolset or just bugs in the game. My advice from that is this: Play the game as long as you have fun and after that install the toolset and play around with it. Not onlyl because of the possible side effects. By playing the game you learn a lot about the build in maps, environment, assets, animations etc. and can watch great cinematics for inspiration as well.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dragon Age Toolset

Installing and first steps with the Dragon Age Toolset worked well so far for me (Toolset Links in my last post). Unfortunately there are many posts on the forum, that there can occur some problems during installation of the toolset and even some side effects to the game as well.
Best to prevent sides effects to the game is not using the 'single player' or 'demo' modules that come with the toolset and insetad create your own module from scratch as described in the wiki.
With reading through the Wiki before it was quite easy to get the fist cut-scene done and be able to play it with the game. Although not as tough to use as the Cryengine2 or Unreal3 engine it need some time and knowledge with that kind of toolsets to have fun right from the start. It's for sure not as easy to use as MovieStorm or iClone.
To help you get started I've found this 6 part video tutorial for the toolset on
Dragon Age: Origins Toolset Video Demo #1

But there are not only good news. From reading through the Wiki docs I was quite impressed about how easy it can be with this toolset to create facial animation and lipsync with just a few mouse clicks. That was the main part I got interested and already had a project in plan to try and use it. Unfortunately it looks like they have totally removed that feature from the toolset. The tool (FaceFX) is delivered, but the integration in the toolset has been removed.
That limits the use of the DA toolset for machinima. Of course we can have our characters put helmets on and and create RvB Halo style films. But I expected more and now can throw my project into the bin. I'm disappointed since that's not the first time that happened.
I'm even pesimistic enough to claim that we'll never get that feature back into the toolset.
Without that capability the DA toolset fails to be a promising Machinima tool and we won't see many films made with it. That's the same story as with engines like Cryengine2, where they removed automatic phoneme extraction. And even worse, after we have found a workaround for that, patched the facial editor dead and useless for everyone. Same story goes for the Unreal Engine. FaceFX was delivered, but couldn't be used with the ingame characters. You had to create your own facial rig, which is out of reach for most of us and needs good knowledge of tools like Maya or 3dmax. And that's the main reason why you haven't seen only very few Machinima made with these engines so far. How to get it right is shown by Valve and their toolset. They included a nonrestricted version of Faceposer that simply worked. And you know what comes next. Yes, there lot of excellent HL2 machinima films out which creatively used facial animation and lipsync for storytelling.

Festival updates

Machinima Expo:
MachinExpo 2009 Press Release
Technical Rehearsal this Sunday, Nov 15, for Expo Participants

IceAxe has published two interesting interview he recorded at this festival
The Atopic Interviews

The festival has just release the final schedule
Arsgames Festival Program

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dragon Age

What an exciting weekend. Bioware's Dragon Age had it's release date on the 5th here in Europe so I had reserved some time to look at the game and the toolkit they planned to release as well. Unfortunately EA messed up the release so I had to wait for the 3rd shipping ( first one was called back from the shops because they had not put on copy protection, second round had a non working German installation on it) of the game DVD to hit the shops. Lucky those who downloaded the game or could get one of the rare CE version that were ok. Even worse, at the release day the toolset was not available and it was not sure when it will be released. But EA and Bioware worked hard and I got the game the next day and the toolkit was online some hours later. So I had the chance to play the game to get my first impression on gameplay and machinima cinematics. And read through the toolset documentation wiki before installing the toolset. You need to have the game installed and registered at Bioware's Social Network and unfortunately have to register there to access the wiki:

Dragon Age Toolset Download

Dragon Age Toolset Wiki
Dragon Age Toolset Forum
Steam Version Workaround

I really enjoyed playing the game. I still have to get adjusted to the gameplay and to switch to the more strategic way of gameplay during combat. Combat is tough and I guess I have to switch to eas-mode to proceed further. The game is heavy on conversations, which is a good thing that it gets you involved into the story, but for me it could be less. The story draws you in and you really get emotionally connected to some characters during the game. Storytelling is superb.
Cinematics are amazing and some of the best I've seen so far. I'm still not sure if all of them the are ingame real-time cinematics. No wonder the team of Cinematic Designer leaded by Ken Thain has some of the best machinima filmmakers in it. Most of them worked on the excellent Mass Effect before. Now I'll have a look at the toolset and see how easy or tough it is to create machinima films with it. From the documenation it sounds very promising.
Any one else on Dragon Age? I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Graveyard - post mortem

My latest film project 'the Graveyard' was based on an independent game The Graveyard. A very short game, designed by Auriea Harvey & Michaël Samyn, about an elderly lady who visits a cemetery.
There is a highly interesting report about the making of this project. You find a lot of inside informations from the birth of the idea to distribution and sales of the game. It has a section on the music which plays a major role in my film as well.

The Graveyard - post mortem

And if you haven’t played it yet, you can download it for free here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Festival News

The list of award winners at Animatu festival is now available:
Animatu Awards List

Cinemanila Machinima has published their winners as well. They have winners for both the Best Music Video and Best Short Film categories. Besides the two Jury Awards they have two Audience Choice Awards as well. Good idea to let both, a jury and the audience, vote for the films they like best.

Machinima Expo has added the final group of films selected for screening at the festival. I'm happy my new film 'the Graveyard' got into that last group.
The Following Films will screen at the Machinima Expo 2009

The final selection of 13 films that are being submitted to the jury for award consideration is now online as well. The films listed represent machinima filmmaking of the highest quality. I'm proud and honoured my abstract film "9" got selected. Some of the films listed already have won at the recent festivals or have at least got nominated. For sure not an easy job for the jury to pick the winners. The winners will be announced at the MachinExpo on November 22, 2009.
Jury Nominations for the Expo

Machiniplex will be Premiering Lainy Voom's film "PUSH" this weekend (Sunday, October 25th) from 10AM to 12AM (Pacific Time) at Hathead's Theatre in Second Life.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Animatu Award Winners

Animatu festival has send out the list of this years award winners.
For Machinima:

Sweet Nothingness
Direction: Phil Rice

A lovely and well crafted comedy made with ZenCube3D. Not many machinima films were made with this Machinima Tool and even worse it's no longer available, but had so much potential.

Congratulations Phil.

Now I hope he will accept the invitation for next years festival and fly to Europe. Guess that's a nice and easy chance to meet him. I'll add a link to the full list of winners of all categories as soon as it's available on their website.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Festival News

Bitfilm Festival announced the winners and the ranking for the Machinima Award. My entry "Liberty City" ended up on 10, just behind Overman's "Blast Supper" and "Intervention".
By checking out the Bitfilm channel on YouTube a bit closer I recognized that actually "Liberty City" ended up to be the "most viewed non-WoW machinima".

Machinima Expo released their
List of Films Screening at the Machinima Expo.
This is not the final list. They will add more films during the next weeks. None of my submissions showed up so far, but the list contains many known and even some exciting fresh new movies.

Atopic Festival that will take place at the Cité des Sciences in Paris, between October the 27th of October, and November the 4th has finally selected my first film "Desassossego" to be shown in the “Narrative” screening. "Liberty City" was preselected, but was not selected in fine by the commitee. Sisch is in there with "Saving Grace" and with "Kate Lee's The Afflicted" at the 1st Cinemanila Machinima Film.

Cinemanila Machinima Film Festival the 1st Machinima festival in the Philippines has just opened public voting. You can watch and vote for the entries at the festival website.
Vote for your favourite machinima now. I'm quite happy my abstract film "9" made it into the 'short film' section and "the Graveyard" is selected for the 'music video' section.
I couldn't submit "Liberty City" for this festival but agreed they could show it at some festival events. I got some very very nice feedback from them already:
"And now, for some good news! :) We've been introducing machinima to local campuses this week and we've been presenting Liberty City as a machinima that local machinimators can aspire to create. And everytime when your film ends, we can hear some students clapping (you know that kind of clapping when you see something amazing for the first time and you're just awed by it, you just have to clap? Yep, that kind :D )"
That's why I love to make movies.

"Liberty City" will be screend at ARSGAMES at MADRID (Spain)from 19th to 22th november 2009 at La Casa Encendida Art Center

Animatu Festival, the 2009 edition will occur on October, 14-18, at Pax Julia - Municipal Theatre, in Beja, Portugal. The winners will be announced during the final award ceremony on Saturday.

TMUundergound community announed the winners for their First Annual Ollies Awards

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Movie: the Graveyard.

After playing the game for the first time at the start of this, I wanted to make a movie with it. Tale of Tales "the Graveyard." is a very short computer game designed by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn. It's more like an explorable painting than an actual game. An experiment with realtime poetry, with storytelling without words. I was really happy, when Auriea and Michaël gave me the ok to use their game for making a machinima movie with it. Unfortunaley I had to put that project on hold right after the start, but after the release of "9" I finally was in the right mood again to finish that movie. Too many words already. Here it is:

the Graveyard.
An old lady - A graveyard - Memories.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Machiniplex Premiere of "9": Audio & Text online

For those who couldn't attend the Machiniplex Premiere of "9" or just want to listen or read through the dicussion again - Thanks to Rick and Phil audio & text of the Premiere is now online available at the Machiniplex Blog Website:
Audio & Text from Machiniplex Premiere of "9"

In addition digitalphil posted some nice pictures and comment about the Premiere on his blog at

Next Premiere on Machiniplex will be Lainy Voom's "Push", an outstanding and inspiring machinima film. Hope to meet you at the Premiere.
Premiere for Lainy Voom's "Push" on October 25th

Monday, September 14, 2009

Machiniplex Premiere

I really looked forward the Machiniplex Premiere of "9" and it was a great experience for me. I've never expected that much interest in this kind of filmmaking and was surprised how many of you actually showed interest and participated that event. The tough part was indeed answering all the interesting questions. Tnx a lot to the Premieres hosts Ricky and Phil who guided me through that event and set up a place and mood where I felt save. I hope at least I could give some solid answers. If you still have some open questions about the movie or the production, just let me know and I'll do my best to help.
I apologize for the last minute chance of the location. But thanks to Phil, HatHead and Bree (for providing such a nice spot in SL), I guess we got everyone in place for the Premiere. If you got lost or want to listen again to the Premiere's audio and chat, Ricky and Phil have recorded the session and will put the tracks online after some editing. If you had problems watching the movie in SL or just want to view it again, it's now online at the Machiniplex Website. Thank you again for showing up at the Premiere your interest in my filmmaking.

Friday, September 11, 2009

M.A.G Machinima Award 2009

M.A.G Machinima Award 2009 deadline is coming close (27. Sept 2009). If you haven't already, submit your Second Life machinima now to the festival held by the Machinima Artist Guild (M.A.G) in Second Life. The MACHINIMA AWARD 2009 will be awarding one of the largest Prize Money ever given out in Second Life with Starting Prize Money of 250,000L$
For more infos about the festival:
Official Press Release August, 31 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Reminder: "9" will Premiere on Machiniplex this Sunday

Machiniplex will Premiere my film "9" this Sunday, Sept 13 at 11AM - 1PM (Pacific Time). After the screening I'll will be on hand to comment on the film and answer questions.
The Premiere is held at the elegant Hathead's Lounge in Second Life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cinemanila Machinima Film Festival

Great to see another Machinima Festival around the world.

"The 2009 Cinemanila Machinima Film Festival is a brand new component of the Cinemanila International Film Festival, and is being held for the first time this year. It is the first ever Machinima event of its kind in the Philippines."

Cinemanila Machinima Film Festival

Deadline for submissions is September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Documentary removed from YouTube

Shortly after I postet about that intersting documentary on the prehistory of film by German filmmaker Werner Nekes it got removed from YouTube. These are those things that really scare me. Is it just a random coincidence or should we keep our links to those gems more secret in the future? I hope you had a chance to watch or download it before it got removed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"9" alternate soundtrack version

I've just uploaded an alternate version of "9". This version uses music made by my friend and coworker on that project Martin Gürtner. I'm happy to have now an IP free version of that movie as well. I know it might be a bit confusing when listen to it. It's easy to get hooked to the Boards of Canada soundtrack. I hope you give the new version a look and hope you like my choice and Martin's music as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Animatu Festival Nominees

Animatu Festival just announced their list of nominated films for this year. I'm proud and honoured to see Liberty City on it :).

Categoria – Category: Machinima

L‟Aquila e la Nuvola – The Eagle and the Cloud
Realizadores – Directors: Elena La Regina
País – Country: Itália – Italy

Liberty City
Realizadores – Directors: Claus-Dieter Schulz
País – Country: Alemanha – Germany

Room 667
Realizadores – Directors: Sílvia Vieira
País – Country: Portugal

Sweet Nothingness
Realizadores – Directors: Phil Rice
País – Country: EUA – USA

The Spy Who Lives Here
Realizadores – Directors: Pooky Amsterdam, Russel (Rosco) Boyd
País – Country: EUA - USA

The full list of all categories is now online at their website
Congratulations to all !

Monday, August 24, 2009

Game podcast with Love

If you need a good game podcast listen to Gamers with Jobs.
I'll highly recommend listening to their last Episode Nr. 148 with Special Guest and Love Developer Eskil Steenberg on it. What Eskil has to tell about his new game, game development and technology is very interesting. I have his game LOVE on my radar for quite a while. I like the concept and the NPR (non photorealistic rendering) style a lot. Which makes it a game I'll want to make a machinima movie with. Hope it will not take too long until it will be released.
LOVE GDC 2009 Gameplay video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bitfilm festival online voting started

All the nominated film for Bitfilm Festival 09 or online now and open for online voting. The Bitfilm community decides by this online voting on the winners, the deadline is September 24.
Machinim Award category.

Machiniplex Premiere for "9"

I'm really proud and excited that my new machinima movie "9" will be featured at Machiniplex on Sept 13th (Sunday) at 11AM Pacific Time / 8PM Germany. The Premiere will be held in Second Life at Hathead's Island Lounge.
I'm still a bit scared about the Q&A session, but excited to meet other machinima filmmakers and an interested audience at the event. For more details about the movie and the event check out the Machiniplex Blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Machinima Tools

Some new Machinima Tools appeared on my radar. As Bllius wrote already on his blog,
'Machinima Studio' is a tool that allows you to design, capture and export your own machinima movie-scenes in an easy and intiutive way.. I'll download it today and will have a look. Right now ony a limited set of game content is supported, but that may hopefully change soon.

'MachStudio Pro' is 3D visualization suite based on a real-time (GPU powered) rendering engine. Unfortunaley the price tag makes it affordable for only a few of us.

Two other tools that might be of interest are:

'Mixamo' is a new tool to create 3D character animations based mainly on preset library. The workflow looks a bit like 'Animeeple'

'Evolver' as a website where you can create and customize a 3D character model (avatar) online and export it in a several format to us it in your tool (Animeeple, Mixamo, FaceFX, Blender..). Building an avatar is free, but you have to pay when you want to download the fully rigged avatar.

Monday, August 3, 2009

3D Machinima Part3: Recording

In my last post I wrote about the main 3 different 3D graphic drivers to get stereoscopic data displayed from a lot of games. Now, how do we record/grab them to video files to edit them into our Machinima movie later on? Of course the answer seems obvious: just use Fraps as usual to do that job. Unfortunaley that's were things get tough.
1. I could not test the Nvidia 3D vision setup, but according to Andrew Fear, Fraps might not work. He told me they have an inhouse solution to be able to grab the 2 different video stream to disc. At this this it's not an official solution/tool to be used by us right now. Hope Nvidia will offer a grabbing solution that works for their 3D driver.
2. For iZ3D even 3D display works great, Fraps was unable to record the anaglyphic or other video files. By checking their forum it was reported that maybe with MS-Vista and side-by-side video format may work. WinXP failed so far. Good news is, that they are working on a solution for video recording that either will work with Fraps or their own tool.
3. Right now the only solution that worked was DDD's Tridef Experience. I was able to Fraps their anaglypic and the interlaced video stream without any problems :)
Unfortunaly they offer no side-by-side or upper/lower video output which would be the best output options for later editing. With Anaglyphic encoding you loose some color, with interlaced encoding you loose half the resolution in height. Good news is, they plan to include side-by-side and upper/lower encoding in their next version of their driver.

That's it how far I got for easy real-time recording your game footage. I have to add that most of the games I tested worked with iZ3D and DDD for viewing, but there are exceptions. GTA4 does not start with Tridef (seems to be an XP Problem, Vista is reported to work) *sigh*, no 3D GTA4 machinima from me soon. And I yet have no idea why Second Life doesn't work with any of the above solutions, maybe it's not DirectX.
I plan to edit some of my recordings I've done for testing as soon as I've found a good working solution to distribte them.

Of course there is another way to get your 3D machinima footage recorded. If your game engine is ready for non-realtime rendering from a virtual camera, you have all you need. Just create a double camera setup to record left and right-eye streams seperatly. Maybe it's not that easy to get such a setup for your game engine, but I'm sure as soon as 3D machinima gets more popular the knowledge on these camera setups will be available sooner or later.
For some non-machinima 3D tools like Maya, Max, Blender this is already the case. I'm sure it would not be that difficult to implement a Stereoscopic 3D camera in MovieStorm or iClone, but I don't know if that has priority to them right now.
Next part will be on editing and finally distributing a 3D machinima.

Friday, July 31, 2009

New Movie: 9

It's finished, my first abstact film inspired by the work of Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter, Stan Brakhage. It's a motion graphics experiment I have worked on together with my friend Martin Gürtner (who did the sound for my movie 'Desassossego'). For sure it's on an extreme edge of what maybe one could call machinima. Even I'm not sure to call it a machinima movie, but I have strong arguments it fits into that genre. But who cares. I hope you enjoy watching it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

3D Machinima Part2: Games in 3D

It looks like Stereoscopic viewing/playing of games is now getting more popular. Most games are 3D already of course, but most of us do not play viewing them in stereo. That may change since the technology is there to get good viewing, it gets more accessible and is heavily promoted now as well.
This helps us alot with machinima. First we as producers get a better screening of our movies than by using anglyph and second, more viewers will soon have this better technology available.
What is available right now are mainly two setups using technology like we see in movie theatres. The first one using active shutter glasses like NVIDIA is promoting right now. Second is using passive polarisation glasses and special LCD displays like iZ3D is offering. Another intersting product is offered by DDD which can drive a lot of different displays.
For sure I would love to have the Nvidia setup which looks like the best you can get so far. But you PC gear has to meet the specs which mine right now does not.
But back to Machinima. What's really great, all companies have build special 3D drivers to allow games to be viewed in 3D and we have the basic tool to create our 3D machinima movie. Even better, you don't need their special displays for a start, because these drivers offer analglyphic viewing on standard displays as well. And the software plays well with most games. Just install these drivers and you can toggle on/off 3D viewing. You get stereoscopic viewing for 'free' for most of you games.
Unfortunaly the free 3D Nvidia driver is only available for Vista and Windows7 and will not run on my XP setup, so I couldn't test it. I've installed both the iZ3D and DDD system which work fine with my XP and GTS8800 (support ATI as well). iZ3D anaglyphic driver is free to use, the DDD driver is included in DDD's Tridef 3D Experience (49$, but has a 15-days trial period).
I actually was impressed how simple it actually is to view the games in 3D. Even with analglyphic viewing the 3D effect is quite impressive. Now it's on you, try viewing your favourite machinima game in anaglyphic mode and evaluate yourself.
In the next part we will see that unfortunaley not everything is that easy when it comes to creating a 3D machinima movie.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CityEngine for Machinima

There are some nice examples on how CityEngine, a procedural city modelling software, can be used for game/machinima creation. They have examples for Cryengine2, which is still my favourite high-end engine, and Unity3D. The workflow can be easily adapted to other game engines as well, I guess.
Great to see there is a Windows version for Unity3D out now as well. Don't know if anyone has tried to make Machinima with that engine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Contests: Machinima Expo and FOX-Aniboom

Great to see we'll have a Machinima Expo filmfest again this year. And it will take place in the virtual world of Second Life. I look forward to this great event. It's again a chance to meet some of the best machinima filmmakers around the world. The festival is now accepting submissions until Sept 30th.
Now only one question comes to my mind: Where is my movie to submit? Right now no project is finished for submission. Hope this tight deadline will get me focused to finish a movie again that is worth putting into this contest. Not an easy task, right now, I'm exploring 3D machinima and getting a stereoscopic machinima finished for that contest is out of reach I guess.

Another contest that is open right now for submission is:
The FOX-Aniboom Holiday Animation Challenge.
It's not machinima only, but it's a great chance to compete with and challenge other animators and of course get your movie viewed my a different audience.
Good luck with your submissions.

Monday, July 27, 2009

3D Machinima Part1: Introduction

Here we go. As you have noticed I'll split the release on how to produces 3D Machinima in several parts. There is lot to learn and to know to even get started with it which won't fit into a single post. I'll not cover a detailed description on the basics of Stereoscopy. You can find a good introduction to that topic on Wikipedia
This first part will bring you right into 3D movies by showing on how to view them on your computer. Most of you may have already or will soon see a 3D film in a movie theatre. They use either active Shutter or polarized viewing glasses. We start with something different.
What I'll cover here first is Anaglyphic viewing because it's easy accessible to everyone. This viewing method isn't as bad as you migh remeber it when you maybe first viewed a 3D picture or movie with those red-green plastic paper glasses. Today we use red-cyan colored glasses for viewing. Their advantage is they allow viewing films in colour.
To get started, first you need some of those glasses. I was lucky, I got one at fmx conference, another one from a recently published computer magazine and the book (which is indeed great) on 3D, I covered in my last post had one as well. If you don't alread have one pair of glasses around, you can buy the from various sites. For example:
3D glasses from The 3D Market
Acrylic 3D glasses from Anachrome

Next step is to get some 3D movies to watch. There are a lot of Anaglyphic encoded videos already around on the net to get started and explore 3D viewing.
Vimeo has Stereoscopy channel
And you'll find some on YouTube as well (search for stereoscopic).

The main problem with those videos is that they are most of the time of low resolution and quality. I'll highly recommend to try something different:
Download the 'swiss army knife' for 3D viewing: Peter Wimmer's Stereoscopic Players
With this viewer you can created the anaglyphic video on the fly from high-quality 3D movie sources. These sources are usually distributed as either 2 video files, side by side or over/under encoded files. You'll find some excellent examples at his site as well.
The quality get in viewing is much better as with the pre-encoded anaglyphic videos and show the full potential of this viewing and distribution method.
Let me know in the comments if you like/or dislike viewing 3D movies, found some interesting 3D movies etc.
Next post will be more machinima related, when I'll cover some advanced viewing techniques and 3D viewing of games.

Monday, July 20, 2009

More on 3D

Looks like I'm getting more excited about 3D machinima than I first thought. I did some research this weekend and what I've found looks very interesting and promising.
At one point I decided to set my mark in the history of Machinima by being the first one to produce a 3D machinima film, but at the end found it much more interesting to share all the informations I'll find about 3D and setting up a workflow for a 3D machinima production. This is not a straight road, I'm sure there are some obstacles and for sure we have to make a lot of compromises to get an intersting 3D machinima movie done, distrubuted and loved. As always, the way is the goal. I hope some of you will join me on that journey. Stay tuned for more information.
As a start to get more knowledge about 3D filmmaking I've ordered this book:

"3D Movie Making: Stereoscopic Digital Cinema from Script to Screen"
by Bernard Mendiburu;
You can have a look into that book online at Google Books

Friday, July 17, 2009

Machinima and 3D

Another interesting opportunity request from Bitfilm:

"Is there a stereo 3D version of your film available or would it be easy for you to produce it?
We have been asked to provide films for a stereo 3D cinema programme all over Germany, so maybe your film would fit?"

Unfortunately I don't have such a 3D version nor would I'll be able to produce on for that version. But as it looks like that request fits well in the new trend for 3D we are seeing right now. Nvidia is heavily marketing their 3D viewing gear now and with the movie theatres go digital more 3D films are actually shown.
I always loved 3D, although most films I've seen were not very convincing. But I've run into every 3D theatre or ride when I found one. I still have some old Toshiba LCD shutter glasses on my shelf and my first step into Machinma was curiously a 3D production (using H
MD technology and Unreal Tournment).
When planned right and setting up the right workflow producing 3D machinima shoudln't be very complicated.
Has anyone of you ever tried/finished a 3D machinima or know of one? Or are there any plans for creating a 3D machinima?
I'm not sure yet if today we see just one of these 3D hypes that show up from time to time, or this time interest will persisit. Maybe it's even a future market for Machinima movies.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Liberty City at the Bitfilm Festival

From Bitfilm:
"congratulations! Your film Liberty City has been nominated for a Bitfilm Award in the category MACHINIMA!"

I'm happy 'Liberty City' made it into Bitfilm this year. I've not seen a list of all the nominated films so far, but some of the other great films in the Machinima category I know of so far which got nominated this year are:

'Intervention' and 'Blast Supper' by Phil Rice
'The Terrible Old Man' by BiggsTrek

and some more:

'Clockwork' by IceAxe
'Shelf Life' by pixel eyes production

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bitfilm festival deadline tomorrow (1st July)

Bitfilm festival deadline is tomorrow (1stJuly). Right now I'm still struggling to get my movie 'Liberty City' uploaded. Hope they get the upload page fixed until tomorrow.

Their MACHINIMA category is open for films of all genres which are shot live inside a computer game. There is no limit in length or size. They accept free artistic works as well as music videos or commercials. They only accept submissions which are uploaded as video files. All submitted videos will also appear in their YouTube channel.
The Internet community will decide on the Bitfilm Awards by a public voting process from August 20 to September 24, 2009. The winner film will receive a prize money of 2000 Euros.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The making of: Waltz with Bashir

Last week I got this amazing animated movie on DVD. Guess most of you have seen or heard of Waltz with Bashir already. So I don't want to comment that much on the film itself which is indeed one of my favourite animated films, but on the little gem I've found on the DVD. My version came with an 'Making of' for that film which even for it's own sake is worth buing it. I rarely have seen such and informative and fun to watch documentary on how this film was produces. It covers every aspect from the idea to the final presentation at Cannes festival. It covers artwork, animation, effects, sound and music and adds some nice backround details about the whole creative process.
It's amazing to see how such a marvellous animated feature film is created by such a small team in a short time. The way they did the animation (cut-out technique done in Flash) is just bejond imagination.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Brainfood: Murch and Ariely

I'm wondering why I've not bought and read so far this amazing little book by legendary film and sound editor Walter Much (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now).
In the Blink of an Eye

It's not a basic course on film editing, but includes deep insight into the process of editing, interesting theories and anecdotes and many practical hints. This second edition adds new stuff on on digital editing. Highly recommended for everyone who is into filmmaking.
Second book I'm reading right now and which is very inspirational and fun to read as well is Dan Ariely's :
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decision
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and his research/results are amazing,
especially in the view of the recent economic crisis and our struggle to undertand our own behaviour. After listening to his talk on TED:
Dan Ariely asks, Are we in control of our own decisions?
I wanted to know more about his research and his findings and this book is a great resource of knowledge and easy to read. Highly recommedned as well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

"HOME" released today

Today on World Environment Day, "HOME" by director Yann Arthus-Bertrand, is simultaneous released in over 50 Countries, and free of charge, release on every format: movie theatre, TV, DVD and Internet.

"HOME is an ode to the planet's beauty and its delicate harmony. Through the landscapes of 54 countries captured from above, Yann Arthus-Bertrand takes us on an unique journey all around the planet, to contemplate it and to understand it. But HOME is more than a documentary with a message, it is a magnificent movie in its own right. Every breathtaking shot shows the Earth - our Earth - as we have never seen it before. Every image shows the Earth's treasures we are destroying and all the wonders we can still preserve. "From the sky, there's less need for explanations". Our vision becomes more immediate, intuitive and emotional. HOME has an impact on anyone who sees it. It awakens in us the awareness that is needed to change the way we see the world. (HOME embraces the major ecological issues that confront us and shows how everything on our planet is interconnected.)"

HOME official website
Home on YouTube

This is an amazing project and movie. Reminds me a bit on "Koyaanisqatsi"
If you have the chance watch it on the 'big screen' in a cinema nearby. Unfortunately I've not found a direct download site for the HD version so I've to watch it on YT. You can skip the first minute which is advertising in some sense. I would love to be able to disable the narration and maybe even the music, just to enjoy watching the pure images.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sims 3 Machinima

Finally Sims3 is released here in Germany as well. I don't know yet if I'll buy the game and use it for an own movie project. Neverthless I found some interesting stuff on the net on Sims3 machinima I wanna share.

Sims3 Review on

3 Sims Machinima filmakers on the Sims 3:
Spotlight on The Sims 3 Player: Decorgal
Spotlight on The Sims 3 Player: Baconandeggzie
Spotlight on The Sims 3 Player: TheSidDog

With Sims3 they released an online 3 movie mashup tool where you can edit and share your movies. It's very simple to use allows editing you own clips or preproduces clips from, add transitions, music and title pages and some effects. Unfortunalely you cannot upload any own music, voice-over to be included in your movie. Nearly 5000 movies have been released so far.

Sims 3 Movie Mashup Guide / Tutorial
Sims3 Movie Site

There is as well a Sims3 movie channel on YouTube. Right now they have started THE SIMS 3 "LIVE THE DREAM" CONTEST. Deadline is June 22, 2009

Sims3 Movie Channel on YouTube

On her blog, Sims2 filmmaker Decorgal has some in debth informations on how to
use the camera tool in Sims3 (and why she does not have Sims 3 yet)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Animeeple: Free Animation Software

If you are looking for an easy and free tool to create animations.
Animeeple is an easy to use character animation tool.
You can easily import and animate characters, layer and sequence them , edit and modify animations (with booth FK, IK handles ).
It even allows placing a camera and render out your scenes as video. But for most purposes you'll export characters and/or animations using FBX, Collada, BVH and XML.
I sucessfully managed to get my animated character imported into XSI Mod Tool (using FBX) and Blender (using Collada).
And you don't have to start from scratch. Animeeple offers a marketplace where you can download for free or buy additional content (animations and characters). Right now they offer several characters you can animate and over 100 free animations to start with. On their marketplace you can upload your own characters and animations and sell them (they take a 25% comission).
One more highlight is Animeeple's feature to animate your Second Life avatar. You can download your SL avatar into Animeeple and then create your animations with it. Then upload it inside this tool or export as BVH and upload via you SL client. Their site offers a some video tutorials as well.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Future of Spore Machinima

One of the first talks I attended at fmx/09 was called "Tools as Toys - Promoting Creativity with Spore" presented by Dan Moskowitz from Maxis. Dan was the lead engineer on the in-game content creation and browsing tools for SPORE - the Creators and the Sporepedia.
I've never played Spore so far, just downloaded their free Creature Editor and played around a bit to evaluate it's use for Machinima but never got something showable finished. Looking around at YouTube there indeed seem not that many Machinima published with Spore yet, even I remember they once did run a Machinima contest (make a dance video). But Spore never took off as a Machinima platform like the SIMS2 did.
Asking Dan about Machinima his answer might give an insight into why Machinima is still not fully recognized by them in it's current evolution. He stated that Spore supports Machinima providing a way to record the gameplay and then upload it to Youtube.
With just that Spore would not have been made it into this blog. But what he presented in his talk could indeed change the future of Spore Machinima or even just help really starting it.
His talk was mainly about the upcoming Spore Add-on Spore-Galactic Adventures.
It's about playing. and much better, creating you own Adventure type games with Spore. You can terraform a planet then for the first time place buildings, creatures, vehicles exactly as you choose, then add goals, structure, or story to your adventures then play and even share this adventure with others. Amazing part is that you can use every asset on Sporepedia (right now around 100.000!!) to build your game. What does that mean for making Machinima. Now for the first time with Spore, you can build you own sets, place characters and props. There is still now way to create an add your own animations, but I'm sure the existing ones are good enough to create some great Machinima movies. I guess we will be surprised soon. For sure I'll have a look at that Add-on when it is released June 23rd.

Do you have a webcam? Then you have to look at the winner application of the Spore API contest:
Spore Skeletons- an amazing augmented reality Flash application by Aaron Meyers

Monday, May 11, 2009

Machinima Studios@fmx/09

Just returned from this years fmx/09 the 14th International Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Digital Media which took place in Stuttgart, Germany.
On Wednesday
Friedrich Kirschner ( AMAS ) and I did talk about Machinima, presenting a mix of current research, performance and movies. Friedrich showed some of his current research projects including his famous Ink Scanner , his current version of MovieSandbox2 and did some life performance puppeteering with GameTrak controllers. MovieSandbox2 is Friedrichs new Machinima tool. Different from his original version which was based on the UT2004 this new version is build from scratch (C++ and OpenGL) and will be released as Open-Source hopefully by the end of summer. Can't wait to have a look at it and play around. My part was to show some of the most remarkable Machinima Movies from 2008. Audience response was great. We had much more people attending than last year and more already know about Machinima.
fmx/09 was very inspiring again. I managed to attend some great talks and got new insights and inspiration for further projects. Enough to start this blog to share what I found most interesting. Stay tuned for more.