Tag Archives: Machinima

The Question of What’s Next

Question blockMan, it’s been quiet around here lately, eh? Since Web Zeroes ended a few weeks ago, the wheels have been turning a bit slow around the SFF wagon, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped altogether. The biggest and most frequently asked question that we’ve seen in the last month or so has been: what’s next? I wanted to answer for that you guys as best as I could so you know that we haven’t hitched a ride on dragons out of the country or something.

The short of it is this: we’re not quite sure what’s next. That’s not for a lack of ideas at all. In fact, we actually have a surplus of them. The tricky part is narrowing it down, which will only come with time to weight out their pros and cons, and also time to chill out a bit. For real, we’re just starting to get used to having our weekends back for the first time in several years, and we’re going to enjoy that for a bit before we throw ourselves onto the content skillet again. It is a hot and buttery place. OK, that metaphor got kind of weird.

Anyway, the only thing I can really tell you is this. Our next ideas aren’t exactly small potatoes. They’re big. Orca fat, I guess you could say. Up until now, we’ve done everything without a budget and without a huge supply of time. Everything has been quick, free and dirty. The last episode of Web Zeroes is something we were able to throw a bunch of time at, and I think the effort really shows. As a result, we’re going to make sure that whatever we do next we tackle with both time and money. Just think: if we’ve pulled off the stuff we’ve done so far without a budget or ample time, it’s tough to imagine what we could do with just a little of both. Or a lot of both, which would be preferable.

And no, these do not include TLW. In conjunction with wanting to do our next project with the aforementioned time and money, we also want to be able to own it. TLW is the opposite of that, as we’ve discussed on many a fine occasion.

So, stay tuned. I promise more info is coming, along with regular updates. Some things that we’re hoping to have on the docket in the next few weeks include more lost TLW factoids, some Web Zeroes features and other cool things I can’t say just yet. In the meantime, check out GamerSushi, where we’ve got cool gaming news and podcasts.

In other machinima news, have you seen this Gears of War 3 trailer created by a variety of producers including The Duo Group, Treadster Media, Kootra and Sound Wizardry. I love it.

Discuss, gents.

April Fools: An Unfortunate Turn of Events

sad faceIn what has been a weird week for us here at SmoothFewFilms, I regret to inform you guys that we’ve got some bad news. Throughout our years as content creators on the Internet, we’ve always worked to deliver quality comedy material. Sometimes, this included legally gray areas such as machinima, where we utilized someone else’s intellectual property for a laugh, or in the case of The Leet World, an entire series.

Regretfully, we have finally pushed things too far. Due to our parody of an “Avatar parody”, Fox has sent us an actual cease and desist letter. It wasn’t just the Avatar parody that lead to this, but also the suggestion that Fox would send us a cease and desist letter in Web Zeroes Episode 14 that lead to the actual cease and desist letter. I know, it’s both terribly confusing as well as ironic, but this is sadly not a laughing matter for us.

A few things are changing. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll have to remove Episode 14 of Web Zeroes, as well as any other outstanding works on our site that use other intellectual property. No we’re not yet in trouble for those, but this is what our legal counsel has recommended for us to do. This will include our Halo shorts, Day in the Life of a Turret, Leet World, and any episodes of Web Zeroes which use even images or brief shots of video games, which is quite a fair bit.

Sorry to have to tell you guys this, it bums us out just as much as it will you, if not more so. We’re not really sure where to go from here, because this is admittedly disheartening. It seems not even our live action endeavors kept us out of legal trouble. Maybe next we’ll work on stick figures or something, but who knows. We could always just send carrier pigeons straight to our fans because the Internet is a big and scary place.

Anyway, if you want to review the actual cease and desist letter, the link is right here. Maybe you guys can help us out.

Update: Yes, this is an April Fool’s Joke.

The Season Premiere

AvatarHere is Episode 14 of Web Zeroes, and the start of Season 2, Going Viral. In it, we find out the fate of Ray and the guys, and what is next on the docket in their attempts to be Web famous. It might involve something you all are familiar with. Or not. Plus, there are Avatar jokes.

Whereas last season took a few episodes to launch us into the story proper, we’re getting things going right off the bat this time around. And it only gets more ridiculous from there. Also, I’d like to point out that a couple of cast members appear shirtless and/or pantless in this kick-off, so yeah, it’s a party. Take off your pants too, if you want. We’re not here to judge. Well, maybe I am.

Special thanks to RoosterTeeth for appearing in our goofy show again. And much thanks to Jace and Alex for wrangling the music and sound over the weekend. They are wranglers of the finest sort, and they also work for free, so that’s cool.

To watch the episode or spew burning magma flames at us, hit the jump.
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A Dose of Nostalgia

While we had some good times working on TLW, we have all moved past it, and are happy with what we produced. Since it’s so far in our rear view mirrors at this point, there is nothing that really makes us miss The Leet World. Except maybe this.

The trailer was cut by Daniel Sheehan, who we’ve linked to before for another sweet trailer he made during Season 2. Apparently, he used four clips from every. single. episode. Pretty impressive. Give the dude some love.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Lost SupperI know I’ve said it quite a bit, but I truly am sorry for the lack of updates. It’s crazy, because in checking our site statistics regularly, there really are quite a few of you who come here every single day only to be disappointed by my failure to sit down and type some words about how we continually make fools of ourselves on the IntarWebz. Apparently there is a market for this kind of thing.

In terms of Web Zeroes, we are currently working on episodes 3 and 4 of the second season, doing our best to keep a steady pace without murdering ourselves. The show should debut in the next few weeks, though we haven’t quite nailed a date down with Revision3 just yet. This is part of the reason I’ve waited to update, simply because there wasn’t much news to give you guys. Also, it’s hard to show too many screenshots without spoiling some of the developments that we left hanging at the end of Season 1, so that makes it a tad difficult, too.

During my free time, I’ve found myself starting a fantasy novel of sorts. I’m not exactly sure why I’m sharing that, really, but it’s certainly interesting to me even if it’s not interesting to anyone else. One of the things the guys and I have talked about recently is that while we don’t miss the workload and the tedium that came from working on a machinima production like The Leet World, we do actually miss the ability to tell a ridiculous tale that really had no rules. While Web Zeroes is ultimately more rewarding to make, we wish that we had the budget to make a live action epic on par with the zaniness seen by our small corner of the Web. I suppose writing my own fantasy stories lets me get that out of my system. Who knows, maybe some day you can buy one. Or not.

Lately, I’ve been completely consumed by the final season of Lost on ABC. It really is a fantastic and wild show, and the engrossing mystery has had me enthralled for some time. In the final season, I’m finding myself both overjoyed and enraged by the way the questions refuse to be answered, yet trying to not worry and just appreciate the ride while it lasts. Honestly, I can’t imagine seeing anything else quite like this on TV ever again. However, it got me wondering about the mystery we wove on our own goofy Counter-Strike: Source show. Did you guys ever find yourselves frustrated by the way it unraveled?

More news on Web Zeroes coming very soon. In addition, some more “lost” info of Leet World will be revealed, as well as some old school outtakes. Hope you all are doing well, and thanks for being great fans.

The Problem With Machinima

MachinimaLast year, as many of you know, we announced the end of the Leet World. At the time, we cited several reasons, one of them being our confirmation that Valve was not interested in machinima in the slightest. While we couldn’t go into the details of how we knew this to be true, it seems that another machinima studio has done so.

Pixel Eyes Productions are the creators of the well known Shelf Life machinima, using the Source engine. Recently, they’ve gone through some of the same issues we had in terms of trying to monetize their (hour intensive) hobby, and came up with similar results. We just assumed not talk about the problems we had, but it seems they have done so. This includes their issues with trying to become YouTube sponsors, where they were denied, just like us, since they don’t own the rights to the Source machinima they produced. Naturally, Valve owns those.

More interestingly than the YouTube dilemma, though, was that they (like us) pursued the securing of these rights from Valve, via a commercial machinima license of some kind. And, they have posted the official response. Which, just as we insisted all those many months ago, was simply that Valve is not interested in machinima.

If you don’t feel like clicking on the link, here’s the short of Valve’s response.

We are not interested in licensing our technology or IP for machinima. This includes providing copyright approvals.

I have to say, I really feel for Pixel Eyes, having been in their shoes just last year. If you are a young filmmaker trying to use Valve’s excellent Source tools, they have essentially shut the door with statements just like that. While I don’t blame Valve for trying to protect their property in the slightest, it certainly is a shame to see them take such a hard line stance when it comes to something their community produces so readily and in many cases excellently.

To me, it’s stances like these that will keep machinima in kind of a stale flux for many years to come. What you are starting to see is that the more talented individuals get snatched out of making machinima and onto other things, because machinima runs into more dead ends than it does opportunities. While it’s a nice low-budget way to practice something you love doing, making money off of it is often times the exception and not the rule. And this extends beyond machinima even, to any kind of derivative content.

My advice for any hobbyists out there that like to dabble in machinima or other forms of derivative content (fan fiction, stories based on popular games or movies, comic strips that do the same, etc) is that if you want to do this stuff for a living, don’t spend all your time on something you don’t own. By all means, practice your craft with machinima and use it to gain a fanbase, but let that be only a supplement to a project that you own completely, and let that be where you sink most of your time into.

Trust me, in the long run, it’ll be worth it. You don’t want to spend years of your life working on something only to be told that it doesn’t really belong to you in the end. Sure, you gained lots of experience and you had fun doing what you loved, but if you can do all that and then use it to pay the bills, it’s a double bonus. And believe me, if you’re good, somebody somewhere will want to pay for what it is that you’re kicking ass on.

So go out there and make it happen.

A Kindly Reminder to Vote

The deadline for the Streamy Award nominations is rapidly approaching. Faster than the hair grows on Nick’s face, even. Terrifying, right? Well don’t let the fear paralyze you, stand up and vote for Web Zeroes. The deadline is this Friday, January 15th, and you can vote every single day until then. Every vote counts, and we seriously appreciate the support. If you’ve forgotten, I put up a voting guide for Web Zeroes so you guys can help us out.

Writing has officially begun on Web Zeroes, Season 2. We had an awesome planning session recently and I must say, this season gets meta as all hell. I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully you guys are, too.

In other news, we are considering picking up the podcast-ing again. You guys should submit some topics you’d like to hear us discuss or things you’re curious about in our world of content creation. Maybe we’ll talk about them. Or not. Either way, let us know!

Also, I’m not sure how many of you have seen the Source filmmaker tests that have been leaked from the TF2 beta. From what I hear, it could really change the way Source machinima is done. It eliminates the need for actors and renders some pretty cool effects in real-time. That sure would have been helpful a few years ago, Valve, but maybe it’ll see the light of day at some point. I doubt it, but folks can dream, can’t they? Anyway, here’s a cool Team Fortress 2 test I saw the other day:

Happy Late New Year

Figured I should take a few moments and wish all you dudes around the world a happy new year. It’s more than a tad strange to be in 2010. This is the decade when we need to start seeing real live robots, flying cars and video phones I’m thinking. Either that or Half-Life 2 Episode 3. Just saying.

In the Smooth Few Films neck-of-the-woods, things have been awesome. We’re taking a few weeks off of production since we’ve been working like crazy people since early 2009. So far, it’s been cool to see the great reviews pouring in from the finale. We were more than a little excited to reveal that Rooster Teeth played a guest part in the final episode of Season 1 of Web Zeroes, so I hope you all enjoyed that present as much as we enjoyed providing it.

We’ve already had a planning meeting for Season 2, and I honestly can’t wait to start writing it. We’ll be filming towards the end of January and will start building a foundation of lulz upon which the new season will stand.

In other news, one of my favorite machinima teams, TheDuoGroup, released a pretty cool Assassin’s Creed original animation that they created called Initiation. I highly recommend watching it if you’re finding yourselves parched for cool video game content since the end of The Leet World.

More content coming soon. Some of it Leet World related, some of it Web Zeroes related. Also, stay tuned for some posts that will be going up over the next few weeks informing you how you can help us out. You guys are awesome fans and we know you jump at the chance to support us. That being said, we want to go grassroots style on the promotion for Season 2 of Web Zeroes. We’ll let you know more when we know more.

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!