New and Noteworthy in the Machinima Scene

machinimaEven though we’re not making so much machinima anymore here at Smooth Few Films, it doesn’t deter my interest in it. I still like to scour and search for what’s new out there in the wide world of video game movie-making, just to see what other people are doing and what games they’re using.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem that any game has made as big of a splash for the machinima community as Halo 3 did back in 2007. It’s crazy to me that it’s just over 2 years later, and we’re still waiting on the next engine to come and revitalize amateur filmmakers to try out some of their own stuff. Uncharted 2 just dropped for the PS3, and it has some machinima tools hidden within its depths, if only you can make it past the incredible single player campaign (and trust me, it is quite incredible). I also hear that Dragon Age: Origins coming out next month will make use of some rather robust tools.

In terms of some of the new things I’m seeing out there that hold promise, a couple of things come to mind. Red Vs Blue Recreation once again sets the standard for awesomeness. SgtPadrino has some remarkable Call of Duty videos that he’s been scripting together, and they’re impressive as anything I’ve seen in recent months. Likewise, Mystfit continues to work away on some custom TF2 animations. Can’t wait to see what the results of those experiments are. Running Gun (creators of Spriggs) are steadily releasing a fully scripted Fallout 3 machinima called JudgeMental. And then there’s good old Darkspire Films, who just released the Candy Coated Wonder Road, a Halo 3 children’s show.

So what do you guys think the state of machinima is? What are some of your favorite machinimas out there right now?

Also, Web Zeroes Episode 3 hits tomorrow, and some new TLW outtakes should be up later this week- hope to see you back for both of those!

9 thoughts on “New and Noteworthy in the Machinima Scene

  1. djshox

    Currently in my opinion, machinima is like a giant fireworks display. All it’s waiting for is the fuse to be sparked with something truly phenomenal. People have had their doubts about machinima ever since the concept really has gained ground. Because it’s not a traditional syndicated form of media, it stops and goes depending on the quality and occurrence of work being released. It doesn’t have any real set schedules, just a broad section of gamers dabbing in it from time to time, and the occasional amateur filmmaker feeling out his options.

    The real weakness is the writing, where it takes some genuine thinking to get something interesting together. Most machinimators want to pump out action movies, where basic gameplay speaks for the most of the duration. From a Source engine perspective, that’s what I’m seeing. If there was a bigger selection of variety, with romance or original comedic writing, I think machinima would gain a lot more respect. As much as I and others hate, the idea of collaborating with Hollywood comedy writers is probably going to a massive breath of fresh air, and they’re going to succeed tremendously.

    Honestly, TLW accomplished so much in the machinima world. It had everything machinima needed to be successful, a solid storyline and genuine, believable characters facing difficult conflicts. I’m hoping that more machinimators can follow by TLW’s example. It’s the perfect reason to do some homework and educate themselves on script writing, film history and every aspect of a film. The more educated machinimators are about film and the process behind it, the bigger chance the fuse will ignite a brilliant display.

  2. hypnotek

    wow, this close to first comment? I’m usually one of the last in the comment list…

    Anyways, I’m really enjoying the Ross Scott series’ right now, me being the source engine geek that I am. He currently does two shows (Freemans mind and Civil Protection) and if you haven’t seen them already, I suggest you watch them, they are quite funny.

  3. RGamesINC

    I never exactly caught on well with the Halo machinema scene since I quickly got sick of watching people in space suits being every character. The Bad Soda short is still classic though.

    Right now I think that most machinema takes a lot of time and work (just look at Ross Scott, who will have fully animated episodes of Civil Protection that are usually released about once every 6 months- if that) and ends up really short anyway. Most of it that we see is usually 5-10 minutes long and spends its time with quick jokes and witty one-liners, as opposed to building story or defining characters. Youtube is flooded with 3 minute machinema movies that took maybe 3 weeks to make that will have two good jokes amongst them and the same types of nondescript characters used as nothing but empty shells that are the vessels of the (usually pretty crummy) jokes.

    The Leet World was a step in the right direction by being more like a sitcom where we have clearly defined characters that are for the most part fairly unique from most archtypes. There’s, of course, the naive idiot, the old timer, the badass, the party animal, the nerd, the gay guy and the hick, but they’re all more than the archtype and have defining characteristics that sometimes don’t even have anything to do with their palette character.

    Not only all of this, but when you bring in the clever jokes, the epic story, and everything else, you begin to forget that you’re watching machinema at all and get caught up in the show.

    Perhaps what I’m trying to say is that most machinema out there just tries to be machinema, opposed of trying to be entertainment as if the form of media is the gimmick. It’s like when movies were first invented and people just watched recordings of random things moving, like trains coming into stations and the like. A lot of people have ideas for craptastic shows and just think that it’d do better as a machinema. It’s this flood of mediocrity that most of us have learned to see through, ignore, or even forget excisted but still makes other people think of machinema as a fad rather than a legitimate form of entertainment.

    But of course machinema is videogames, and thus for NERDS! NEEERRRRRDS! NURDZ!

    But bah, there’s not much use analyzing people’s initially negative reception to machinema. It seems to be fading over time and eventually the machinema bulldozer will CRUSH ALL WHO OPPOSE. Hopefully there will be explosions.

    Also, I said machinema 11 times in this post, not including the one in this sentence. That has to be some sort of record.

  4. Sharky

    Darn it, Hypnotek beat me to it.
    I’m intrigued to hear about Dragon Age: Origins making use of some tools, a lot of good stuff might come from a game like that, provided the tools aren’t hell to use.
    -Just watched the first episode of JudgeMental, pretty well done.
    I’m glad to see machinima flourishing, even though there’s hardly an industry in it, people are still finding it as a difficult to pick up hobby.

  5. Eddy

    That’s a tricky question. Problem is, if I release one map, people are going to want all of them, and many of them are only complete in filmmaking terms, actually. For instance, the rainy house map looks fine, but has no rain sound effects, and still has all the day-time sound effects from the actual militia map. I know that if I released it like that, people would complain that they wanted it a certain way, so I’m either going to fix it at some point or just not release it.

  6. RGamesINC

    I wouldn’t mind having the unfinished maps myself. Actually, I think I’d prefer them that way so I could see how much was really done and how much was really shown in the show. I remember the maps from War of the Servers were released 200 (300?) years ago or so, they were kinda uncompleted but it was pretty interesting to see. It’s your materials though, so I don’t want to muscle you into releasing what you don’t want to, I’m just saying that I wouldn’t complain about it not being finished.

  7. DemonSquirrel

    On the topic of Uncharted 2, I agree the story is amazing and there are a lot of useful machinima tools. However, I’m surprised how little I have seen of Uncharted 2 machinima. I started my own small machinima production company, and we are currently using Halo, mostly because we can capture and send footage via fileshare instead of using a capture cable/card.I hope to do something with Uncharted 2, but I don’t know enough people with the game.

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