(muh-shin-eh-mah or ma-shin-i-ma) is a hybrid filmmaking technique where people utilize game engines and environments to create videos. At first, it was little more than screengrabs and screencasts of in-game action, but it has now grown to include sophisticated storylines independent of game action. Shows and entire series have been made from The Sims, Halo, The Movies, Quake, Half-Life, Unreal Tournament and Second Life to name just a few. Actually, some Team Fortress 2 machinima was recently mentioned
(October 9th). Over the years, there have been some really amazing productions, such as the now legendary 100-episode Red vs Blue
series (also previously mentioned) which was created with Halo 2. A lot of machinima can be found and viewed for free on machinima.com
. The Internet Archive also maintains a machinima section
. The recently-released BloodSpell
, a "punk fantasy" from Strange Company
, is believed to be the first feature-length movie released using the Neverwinter Nights
game engine. (watch online free
, free divx download
- 847 MB, free quicktime download
- 903 MB). Two of the people behind BloodSpell, Hugh Hancock and Johnnie Ingram have co-written the just-published "Machinima for Dummies"
One problem with using game engines and environments is that one does not own the rights to distribute the video. Some game publishers have turned a blind eye, while others have been more supportive. More recently, companies have been clearly outlining their policies with regard to Machinima, and some like Microsoft, have been surprisingly flexible. For example, Microsoft’s revised "Game Content Usage Rules
" specifically allow entry into film festivals, even where there are monetary prizes.
Linden Labs, makers of Second Life, have always been very encouraging of machinima, and has a page
with tutorials and videos dedicated to it. They’ve even sponsored a trailer contest
. And one owns what one creates in Second Life, meaning it can be sold without fear of a lawsuit for violating copyright or infringing on trademarks. This past September, HBO spent a reported six figures for the North American television rights to My Second Life: The Video Diaries of Molotov Alva
, a short-form documentary which was shot completely within Second Life.
Other have come up with a different solution to the rights issue. For example, Moviestorm
takes a new approach to creating machinima. Although, it is based on gaming technology, it's not a game. Users can create characters, build sets, record dialogue, use multiple cameras, edit scenes, and most importantly to some people, everything one creates with it belongs to them. Recently out of beta, and free to download, the windows (XP/Vista)
software seems to have already obtained a cult following among enthusiasts. They also have a very late beta for macs (intel)
, and a PowerPC version is promised as well.
Recently, several hundred people attended Machinima Europe
, the first European Machinima Festival (Flickr photoset
) which was held at the De Montfort University Campus Centre in Leicester, UK. There were discussions, demonstrations, and an awards ceremony to honor the best of Machinima. Over 150 films (PDF
) were entered from a wide variety of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Croatia, Slovakia, Japan and Australia. Video of both the event and the awards can be found here
(Flash/QuickTime). Stolen Life
, which utilized the voice talent of sci-fi fan-boy fave Claudia Black (Pitch Black, Farscape, Stargate SG-1) took home a fistful of awards, including Best Picture. She's become quite enthusiastic about the possibilities of this medium (interview on YouTube
In professional filmmaking circles, machinima techniques have been used to do pre-visualization aka 'pre-viz'. Major Hollywood studios have been saving a great deal of money creating entire scripts in this format, both to show to potential investors and also as a new sort of storyboard to test shots and setups prior to filmming. There was an article entitled "Preconceived Motions"
in the October issue of Computer Graphics World about this very subject.
For more information, check the Machinima FAQ
. A great way to stay on top of the latest machinima news is by subscribing to MachiniFeed
, "the Blended Feed for the Machinima Community". Also worth noting is the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences
. The afore-mentioned Hugh Hancock, is not only a co-founder of Machinima.com, but also of the Academy.
[Note: this is my first post]