Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On machinima and making it

I make machinima. Machinima is a portmanteau word for "machine cinema." If we are to get away from cinema, as Peter Greenaway counsels us to do in making it or finding a philosophy for it, we need to find a new word for it. For one thing, it's a stupid word, implying that ordinary "cinema" has nothing whatsoever to do with the machine (the camera? film-processing and editing? stop-motion animation? motion-capture? Maya? AVATAR?). But it's a better word than "Quake Film," which is where machinima originated... in a game called "Quake." Machinima is a film made in a virtual world, originally an on-line game environment, but it's shot in "real time" unlike conventional animation. You move your avatar around along with your point of view and "capture" the motion on the screen by means of a software engine. It's a huge learning curve, compounded by the learning curve needed to operate your avatar in any virtual world.

What I love about machinima: at last I can illustrate my poetic fairy worlds in one place, and with moving images as well as still ones. I can upload textures I make and put them in as backdrops, or inside objects. I can add my voice to this medium... singing or reciting (back to lessons, be mindful of pitch, breath-control, Sally!). I have to deal with irksome difficulties: the limitations of Second Life itself, which nevertheless is the richest virtual world we have--hundreds of shapes (animal, vegetable, mineral), costumes, props, animations, and an endless variety of faces.

Using the non-intuitive Adobe Creative Suite Premiere Pro 5, and still trying to figure out After Effects, I've managed to upload nine (read six... I've hidden my worst efforts) to YouTube:


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