Machinima Fictions: A DIY practice to produce animated movies from Videogames
Ricardo Cedeño Montaña
Building: Edificio W.
Room: Classroom 101
Date: 2010-11-18 04:20 PM – 04:40 PM
Last modified: 2010-11-03
The mixture of playing videogames and producing movies has produced a new kind of moving image, a hybrid that, in the underground realm of videogames, has silently lured thousands to enter its territories. In the late 1990s, devoted players started to use videogame software for movie production. Their activity molded a narrative medium called ‘machinima’. Two recent productions are discussed to describe the various facets of this phenomenon in order to present the features that make up machinima and how it is relevant to popular culture.
HI, I’m glad to share the presentation of the machinima seminar I’ve been conducting in the master programme in Digital Media in Bremen and Bremerhaven.
This seminar titles: Do-it-yourself media: about machinima and other hybrid beasts and tackles DIY, machinima, and hybrid media as means to research in grass-roots digital media practices.
Do-it-yourself (DIY) the low budget practice with high expectations, is a form of both media resistance and participation. Nowadays, DIY has become a de-facto attitude towards media, everyone is utterly a media producer and operator of machinimas, game mods, mobile apps, blogs, wikis, online radios. All these expressions have steady challenged the traditional mass media structures of content’s control. DIY addresses at the cultural impact that concepts such as appropriation, repurposing, openness, and remix have on the nature of digital media.
Machinima describes a relatively recent species of moving image that results from the mixture of playing video games and producing movies, a hybrid that silently in the underground but massive realm of video games has lured and inspired thousands to enter its territories. In the late 1990s, devoted video game players started to use video game software for experimental movie production. This is a marginal practice that utilizes recordings of gameplay to make short and simple narrative movies.
Hybrid media. What has made possible the apparition of the hybrid media? Which role plays the automation of several media languages and techniques in the computer, in the appearance of such hybrids? How could be described the aesthetics of these hybrids? Should we be afraid of them? Thus, this stream looks at the machinic combination of media in rhizomatic surfaces.
last month I guided a seminar about Machinima in the master programme in interactive design and creation at the Universidad de Caldas in Manizales, Colombia. It was a pleasure to me to be there exchanging and sharing ideas about DIY, popular culture, and the moving image.
In the seminar a small group of master’s students got engaged in an intensive three days study about machinima. We discussed concepts such as hybrid media, real-time, and DIY. Finally, they produced what can be called, as far as I’m informed, the first machinima pieces in a university in Colombia. Their results vary from sound works to mashups of popular songs. These works can be read and watched here: third cohort and second cohort.
HI, machinima goes on finding its way into the academia. My little contribution has been added to the Leonardo’s thesis abstract service (LABS). Now in Leonardo On-line, my work can be consulted for anyone interested in the topic. My thesis is identified by the node 284, here its link.
Movement under thousand eyes
As any scientific work, mine is open and free, therefore, today I share and publish an electronic version to anyone who wants to read the entire document, here the pdf. I hope to receive soon your critical comments.
Cedeño Montaña, Ricardo. Movement under thousand eyes. 2009. Hochschule Bremerhaven and Universität Bremen. Germany.
Swarms, replicas, machinima
The screen is filled by a yellow sport car running across town on a sunny day. Soon, a swarm of a thousand replicas of the yellow car are running, smashing, and crashing against the trees, walls, and pavement of the town. No window is opened, no one in the town dares to see what happens outside. The furious cars jump over bridges, over roofs, over street lights, and frenetically descend into a perfectly clean highway. Nothing stops the riot nor the architecture nor its own chaotic behaviour. To the repetitive rhythm of a popular electronic song, a yellow moving stain covers the town. A plastic beach appears on the horizon just one last bridge. The camera soars over the roofs and enters a tunnel to engage in the madness. Hysterically, it traverses a rain of yellow dots to fiercely collide against a pixellated ocean. The flat image of a shark indicates that the movie has ended.
one part of my recent thesis discusses fan and amateur video productions in the context of machinima and DIY media. Star Wars holds a large fan community all around the word, only comparable to trekkies, that has made it to achieve its status as cult film. These are very active communities whose members usually get involved in organising festivals and conventions, and in publishing fanzines and other forms of DIY media.
Fans, independent of the cult media, appropriate the original media content to extend its diegetic world. These activities can be read as either participatory or resistant towards the media. The story lines, characters, and aesthetics of the media cult are unfolded in order to fill gaps, or to accommodate them to personal, political, and social issues. In all cases, fan’s productions are deviations of the cult media (film, TV series, video game, and pop bands) that the producers do not support officially, but that in many cases they encourage as long as these productions increase the popularity of their cultural text.
The access to nearly inexpensive tools for media production has brought a proliferation of these fan’s (di,-sub-, and per-) versions with a decent and even high quality. Fanzines, fanart, music videos, mash-ups, disguises, parallel narrations, mods, machinimas, and online forums are part of a huge realm in media production that currently is garnering as much attention as the original productions in the Internet.
Recently, I found via Wired the following videos by Mike Horn, an enthusiast of Star Wars. His DIY productions combine the amateurish style of camcorder video with CG animations. He places the universe of Star Wars in contact with San Francisco and in one of the videos in narrative collision with Star Trek.
Hi, next week I will present and defend my master’s thesis in Bremen. The colloquium is public and everyone interested on is hearty welcome, for details click on the image below.
Machinima Fictions. A do-it-yourself practice to produce narrative movies from video games.
This thesis investigates the growing phenomenon of the moving image form of machinima, which has been defined as a technique that utilizes 3D video game environments to produce narrative animated movies. The main argument centers on the hybridization of media languages that machinima exhibits, allowing a cultural appreciation of this phenomenon. Two productions that promote machinima qualities such real-time and film language are examined in order to observe how these features mold the expressive potentialities machinima as a hybrid moving image medium. The metaphor of a rhizomatic, tangled surface (maraña) streams throughout the document and fosters a multifaceted view of this moving image medium.
Through my research, which encompasses the critical view of terms, the development of concepts, and a review of relevant literature, I argue that machinima is more than a technique that imperfectly imitates the conventions and codes of mainstream film and television. Instead, machinima is considered a cultural phenomenon that stems from a persistent contact with machinic entertainment media and subscribes to the current widespread do-it-yourself (DIY) mentality in media production that emphasizes production over consumption.
Contents: Chapter I. The phenomenon: machinima
A. Describing machinima
B. A hybrid form
C. Machinima’s tangled history Chapter II. Fiction making: real-time
A. Machinima techniques
C. Marionettes: A Puppet Play
D. Conclusion Chapter III. Fiction making: The Monad
A. Hammer and Faceposer: the means
B. Virtual worlds: the context
C. Narrative form in The Monad
D. Film Style in The Monad
E. Conclusion Chapter IV. Context: DIY mentality
A. Video games and popular culture
B. DO IT YOURSELF!
C. Aesthetics of DIY
Soon to be available online.
Ricardo Cedeño Montaña.
HI, in the short history of machinima some people have already made a name because of a remarkable piece. It is the case of Katherine Anna Kang, below an excerpt from my thesis in which one of her productions is mentioned.
The founders of AMAS are active machinima producers with commercial interests. Katherine Anna Kang founded Fountainhead Entertainment in Mesquite, Texas in 2000 and maintains a close relationship with id software, which eventually helped her to develop and produce Machinimation™, the first commercially-available functional tool for machinima based on Quake III Arena™ [1, p.92]. In 2003, she produced Anna (2003) using Machinimation™.
Filmographic information. Ref: a.MAC 2003-02
Original title: Anna
Country of origin: USA
Director(s): Katherine Anna Kang
Year of release: 2003
Game engine Machinimation™
Game engine Machinimation™
Kelland, Matt, Dave Morris and Dave Lloyd. Machinima: Making Animated Movies in 3D VirtualEnvironments. East Sussex, UK: Ilex Press Limited, 2005.
my first chapter finally has reached a draft status, meaning it is in its final revision. Soon, I will share my conclusions, currently my ongoing work deals with a film analysis of one machinima that later I will comment it here, too. By now I want to open 2009 with two definitely worth watching machinima pieces from AFK pl@yers, a machinima studio from Taiwan. They work with World of Warcraft to produce their movies. Though right now I’m not going to mention their productions in my thesis they have shown me a completely different aesthetic of machinima, one closer to junk-TV than to film making. A sign of the irreverent potential hidden in this rhizomatic movement.
Junk TV and WoW
Is it a Remediation of junk TV in World of Warcraft or a conversion of World of Warcraft in junk TV?
An answer not as easy as it seems at first glance. On the one hand anyone who has wasted time watching TV would agree that most of it is rather similar to junk food, deliciously insipid and brilliantly empty. World of Warcraft is a baroque MMORPG game with hundred of thousand of players and guilds. In any case both are massive entertainment media being hybridized in AFK’s movies.
Wrath of couch potatoAzeroth Movie Top 3, this one was nominated for the “Best Short Film” in the Machinima Film Festival 2008.
HI, in the first chapter of my thesis I wanted to do a special mention to Blahbalicious (1997) by Avatar & Indigo, however right now is somehow not fixing in the text. So I just decided to use this short words here.
This movie was not only of the most awarded of Quake movies but also took skinning and parodying to an upper level. Its directors Avatar & Indigo used in Blabalicious a unique game-character specially designed for this movie (the fat guy). They identified themselves as puppeteers rather than film makers. It is easier to recognise in machinima the techniques and well established conventions of film grammar like camera angles, camera positions and camera movements; particularly because of its output as movies that are shot inside a 3D game engine. However, it is more foggy to identify that in machinima there is no actors, and that what occurs in machinima is rather an extended performance of puppets, a sort of supermarionation[Kelland 2005, p.76].
A machinima maker utilises the game characters or avatars as marionettes. The game models are dressed, made up and their movements controlled externally by the player. Strings are replaced either by keystrokes or scripts and voices are synchronised externally in the same manner is done puppet theatre. This feature permitted Avatar & Indigo a high degree of parody, irreverence and caricaturisation, an aesthetic rarely seen in mainstream animation nowadays.