I went to the Machinima Filmfest 2008 award ceremony last weekend and my mind was blown. For those who don't know what Machinima is and ignored the wikipedia link, Machinima is essentially video game movies. Not like the awesome awesome (that's not a typo, it deserves two awesomes) Super Mario Brothers movie with Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper. Machinima takes in-game video game characters and sprites and reapproiates them to make video game movies. Some of the movies stay within the world of the game, others take the characters and make a whole new storyline unrelated to that game's universe. Needless to say, Machinima appeals to gamers and off-center film directors.
Why use Machinima for animation? ILL clan animation studios puts it best: "Simply put? Machinima Animation can provide you with high-quality animation produced three times faster than traditional 3D CGI animation at 20% of the cost."
Before the awards ceremony, there were a series of panels that talked about machinima. One panel discussion featured young high-school students who used environments they created in Second Life to raise some global issue. By using the game's mechinics, they made a successful film that asked questions and discussed problems within Second Life.
Another panel talked about copyright issues with machinima and the business behind it. One machinima filmmaker got his film on HBO and was able to retain all of the rights to the characters within his film because the avatar he used was created by himself in Second Life, making it intellectual property. However, since he was making revenue off this film, random avatars that came into his set while filming might have needed contracts in order to be recorded. Considering very few films have been made and marketed in virtual worlds, copyright issues are fuzzy.
The most exciting part of the day though, was clearly seeing all of the movies. In one room, they had a huge projector which just streamed the films all day long until the awards ceremony came up.
Instead of going through and talking about each film, I'll just put a whole bunch of them up in this post that I really liked. You can make your own distinctions and conclusions about the films.
Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator
Portal: A Day in the Life of a Turret
If you want a list of all of the nominated films for Machinima filmfest 2008 check out this list here.