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 G├╝rtner (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