Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miscellaneous Musings

By Sherwin

While K is on a short break from posting on this blog, I thought I would try my best to fill in for her by just talking about what's been happening.

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The International Machinima Expo 2009 that took place just last week was the kind of event that provides the inspiration and energy needed by a lot of machinima filmmakers. Even though it was taking place in the virtual world of Second Life, being in the same virtual room filled up with a bedazzling number of different avatars representing members of our little section of the machinima community - that was a fun experience for us, who came back to moviemaking four months ago.

I also had a chance to catch a few movies I had not seen before playing in the screening rooms. Even though the streaming quality will be inferior to that of a video streaming website, the environment and the people you watch with makes it a whole different experience. I got to watch our movie "Death in Venice" with award-winning filmmaker IceAxe, who fortunately did not burn the theater down with his torch.

This event also introduced us to the world of Second Life. I took the chance to explore many areas, also with the intention of maybe using some SL footage in a movie. What's most intriguing to me is the wide variety of environments that exist, and many of these being quite detailed, especially considering how empty most of these places appeared to me. While the commercialism is hard to ignore, there are a few areas in which SL really appears to shine: as a medium for artists to create virtual worlds, and as an innovative tool for education and dissemination of knowledge (e.g. virtual museums).

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Moviestorm's recent announcement of their subscription service created a bit of a hoopla on both the TMU and the Moviestorm forums. The TMOA radio shows "The Storm Hour" and "Ken & Roger" have almost exhausted the topic. I do believe that the vast majority of us are willing to invest in this movie-making tool, and that the passion in the arguments stem mainly from our sincere concerns that the company remain a viable business in the long term. Being an engineer, my instincts are to leave these decisions for the business/marketing types and the number crunchers. The MovieStorm founders are prominent evangelists of machinima, so I trust that they will steer their ship accordingly.

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On a lighter note, I think we have settled on a machinima project for the coming Winter break. Since we moved from California to New England, winter has taken a whole new intimidating meaning in our minds. Staying home and watching the snow fall from our windows while discussing moviemaking minutia - that sounds like a good plan. Alternatively I could learn how to drive on the snow, but I'm currently trying to minimize my auto insurance costs.

It will likely be a shorter movie than "Death in Venice," as our current goal is to keep it below 12 minutes. This time Kate is starting the script from scratch (instead of a three-year old "The Movies" script), so we'll hopefully be able to take into account the strength and limitations of our machinima tool from the scripting stage (instead of bending the tools to fit the script). It's still early days so I can't say much more than that, but you will hear from us. :)