And Now For Something Completely Machinima

July 2021 Machinima History with Ben Grussi

July 27, 2021 Tracy Harwood, Ben Grussi Season 6
And Now For Something Completely Machinima
July 2021 Machinima History with Ben Grussi
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ben Grussi, the And Now For Something Completely Machinima podcast’s resident historian talks to Tracy about some of the notable events that took place in July during the early years of machinima, including the release of A Few Good G-Men by Randall Glass, the Artery Machinima production, Speilberg’s use of Unreal’s Matinee tool on his film, A.I., machinima showcased at the Lincoln Centre in New York for the first time, a Matrix parody training video released by Strange Company and the first green screen machinima production.

Full notes for this episode are available at:

July 2021 Machinima history with Ben Grussi

Ben Grussi, the And Now For Something Completely Machinima podcast’s resident historian talks to Tracy about some of the notable events that took place in July during the early years of machinima, including the release of A Few Good G-Men by Randall Glass, the Artery Machinima production, Speilberg’s use of Unreal’s Matinee tool on his film, A.I., machinima showcased at the Lincoln Centre in New York for the first time, a Matrix parody training video released by Strange Company and the first green screen machinima production.


machinima, notable, july, halo, noted, virtual, ben, announced, hancock, matinee, quake, community, marino, cover, released, clan, unreal tournament, spartan warrior, roosterteeth, productions


Ben Grussi, ANFSCM, Tracy Harwood


ANFSCM  00:08

And Now for Something Completely Machinima


Tracy Harwood  00:13

Welcome to and now for something completely machinima with that crazy slowed down start. Thanks for that, Ricky, Phil.  We're here with Ben Grassi, our podcast's resident machinima historian. And this month where we're July, and Ben's got some great stories for us. Hey, Ben, welcome to the show.


Ben Grussi  00:41

Welcome again, the music definitely shoots the vibe for this month, because there's a lot of hard hitting events that happened in July. So it's very good that we start with some thumb pounding and shake things up from 50s to the modern chaos. 


Tracy Harwood  00:57

Yes, indeed. Well, listen over to you. I look forward to hearing what you've got to say on this month. 


Ben Grussi  01:03

All right, so first things first, we make some very big strides in a lot of different areas. So we're going to start with in July of 2004, Volvo actually reaches out to the game on project video project and they're looking for Unreal Tournament 2004 level creators to produce one of the very first TV commercials for their automobiles. So that was very notable. It was actually the video was released, as part of the news actually showing the 2005 Machinima Film Festival, which we'll note here in our history lesson. But that's one notable. The other notable is that Entertainment Weekly for the first time does a cover story well, not a cover story, but a very good article that covers the ILL Clan and Strange Company about machinima in general. That was actually in July of 2001. And then another notable is that, finally, as you know, in June, as we noted in June, that actually a year later, the ILL Clan announces that Hardly Workin' is finally done and getting prepped for release. This was in July of 1999.  Another Paul Marino special was done in July of 2005, he teamed up with Roosterteeth Productions, and they did a project called the Strangerhood Studios, which at the time was promoting the IFC, the Independent Film Channel with six mini episodes of The Life of an Independent Filmmaker, it sort of has their stranger hood spice to it to make things a little wacky and funky. 


Ben Grussi  02:43

Also, one of the big ground breakers is that in July of 2004, New York based Summer Tech Camps, they are a technological camp that does a lot with computers and kids. And one of the things they announced for that year was that they were going to do a film machinima course, that was a six week course, to teach the kids how to do machinima and make films with it. They actually had a film festival at the end of the the course where they could show their family and friends. What they were up to you for six weeks, they had something to say that I didn't waste my time, you know, playing games all day that actually produce something that you will be very impressed and happy with.


Ben Grussi  03:27

Another notable thing as well is that Randall glass, which we mentioned for last month, he in the year 2005, in July, he released a very good reenactment of a Few Good G-men, which is a play on the A Few Good Men, which is that very popular courtroom scene with Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise. And they're standing off each other. This was artfully done and HalfLife 2 using the lip synching and everything else to do it was a very well done production and like whilst Warthog Jump was very, you know, popular for just reenacting a very popular scene and it really made it grounded by just showing it in a gaming environment. 


Tracy Harwood  04:11

You can't handle the truth.


Ben Grussi  04:15

Well, luckily, I am the truth, so I can handle it pretty well. Thank you. [Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt carry on.]  So Another notable as well is that Believe it or not, it feels like it was just yesterday, but it's been open for a lot longer than that. Is that the Internet Archive opened its machinimas collection to the public. That is the forum where machinima productions live on in infamy definitely needs some updating. I need to get back to work on that because that's part of my job being historian. But that was in July of 2004. So it's been oh gosh, let's see. 16 years almost 17 years. Yeah. Alright.  


Ben Grussi  04:56

So Another notable as well is that um, Artery Machinima - that was the TV show that Hugh Hancock and Strange Company they did with a group of other Quake 2 and the ILL Clan and a lot of notables in the machinima community quake community where they discussed what machinima was, and where he Hancock was trying to explain what it was. He was trying to show where it was and what his future ambition was, you know, and so forth. It was a very well done 20 minute show that really showed off a lot of the notable people in the machinima community at that time. And that was in 2005, I believe. No, actually, it was 2003. I stand corrected. It was 2003.


Ben Grussi  05:43

Another notable was that there is this was before YouTube, shockingly enough, but there was a website called Red vs Blue Halo.  It was an all 24 hours, seven days a week was playing all red versus blue and Halo machinima and playing matches with commentary. So before YouTube became prominent, someone was actually you know, feeding everyone all things Halo on a website with a video stream for everyone to just consume with it, nothing else to do that day, or just wanted some background noise to keep your creative juices going.


Ben Grussi  06:22

Um, some more notables as well, is that Strange Company announced Bloodspell again, as we noted in last month, feature that, you know, Neverwinter Nights was released, this is the backbone, that game was the backbone for Bloodspell. And this is when it first it's light of day of being announced, which was in July of 2004. The biggest thing that's coincidentally same day is that where to get out that Steven Spielberg in 2001, in July of 2001, was using a customized version of Unreal Tournament that Industrial Light and Magic may form when he was scoping out the virtual world of the movie that he was working at the time, which was Artificial Intelligence, that it was the very first notable use of virtual production in a commercial professional sense. And this, you know, preludes the Mandalorian with a virtual production in the video wall. So this is the very first taste of professionalism when it comes to machinima development that it was a really surprise, tying in to that the same day epic announced their, their integrated tool with Unreal which is called Matinee.  So that was a game changer in itself, because that was the very first dedicated tool to cinematics that Epic created for people to create cinematics. They showed it off with the Unreal Tournament 2004 introduction, and how you're able to do stuff. And again, Matinee was also how it enabled the the creations of things during the $1 million Make Something Unreal contest that we talked about last month as well.


Ben Grussi  08:03

Another notable as well is that in July of 2002, the Machinima Film Festival that we noted there was going to be held at Quakecon in 2002, also was being sponsored by Nvidia, which, as you know from recent news, they're the ones that are doing the Omniverse Machinima tool. So even way back when, you know, 90 almost 19 years ago, that they were still dipping their toes into video games and content creation even back then why sponsoring the festival, which was awesome.


Ben Grussi  08:39

Also, a very notable thing from a publication standpoint is that the New York Times published a very big article that covered both Hugh Hancock and Paul Marino and machinima as a whole, and how they got into the community and what not. So is a very juicy, very beefy article that just covers as best they can in that short time, in 2002, what machinima impact that was happening in the background from the mainstream of stuff. The other thing that had happened to is that for the first time, the ILL Clan was invited to Lincoln Center. They're invited, along with Paul Marino to the New York Film video festival that was held at Lincoln Center. And this was in July of 2003. And it was was the first but definitely not the last because Lincoln Center has been kind of like the home away from home for the Roosterteeth guys further their season premieres of, you know, Red versus Blue. So that's the beginning of the the insanity of Red versus Blue and Roosterteeth. 


Ben Grussi  09:40

The last three things that we have on our list is the are four actually, is that in July of 2002, world renowned science fiction writer Charlie Stross wrote in his Charlie's diary, he had a very interesting quote that he quoted as saying 'machinima will be the shark of the movie world, that could be Hollywood's unseen killer' unquote. So I don't know if that really occurred. But that's definitely some motivation for people in the community to say, their teeth, we're going to be chomping on some heavy hitters if we're lucky. But you know, different things happened instead. So at least that was again a motivator for people to really enjoy to say that we could be an unseen killer.


Tracy Harwood  10:25

And there were lots of comments of similar ilk around that sort of time weren't there.


Ben Grussi  10:30

And the last two items on my history this for this is the Strange Company, Hugh's company developed one of the very first that I'm aware of, of training videos for corporate training videos. And their approach was to use the HalfLife 1 engine and make it a Matrix parody, where it involves Trinity breaking into a computer system, while the world is exploding around her. And that she's able to run out the run out after doing your thing like she did in the movie, and jump through a closing door. And that's it. Unfortunately, there's no context to it, because the material that he was probably using it for, we don't have it, so it kind of just any action piece, but for the most part, it it mean, it holds up concerning it's, you know, almost 18 years now, since that was released. 


Ben Grussi  11:24

And the Finally, this is a very interesting note, there is a user back in July of 2005. That she goes at the time she was going by AmandaJ3162, in what she was doing was on just a whim, she was just trying things out. And a colleague of hers, she took his Halo footage that he was doing. Then she was working in the Sims 2 at the time. And she kind of used a green screen technique, and was able to blend the two together, not perfectly. Again, it was rudimentary, but it was the very first time noted as a virtual green screening. And she actually created a short where it was basically entitled, quote, unquote, You're Fired. It was basically, you know, Halo, a Halo Marine, talking to a Sim, the Sim was just bouncing around just ignoring and just talking and not paying any attention. So the Spartan warrior gets so upset, he just says, he throws out his he shoots out his flame thrower and says you're fired. And it was so powerful. It was so out of the blue, that, um, I actually posted it on at the time. And it had gotten the attention of one of the biggest fan sites of Halo, which was by Lewis Wu. And Lewis Woo found it and thought it just tickled him so much that he actually wrote a post about it on that, you know, Amanda really was shocked at actually anyone would really think it was that worth that much. But it was just such a groundbreaker that someone had done it, you know, at that time that it needs to be notable, because it was just such, it allowed people not to be stuck in their single environment, you know, Quake and Halo, you could kind of take two different mediums and smoosh them together and create something, you know, different because you could take the two environments and just stack them on top of each other. 


Tracy Harwood  13:22

And we've never looked back since. Ben, thank you so much. That's a another packed month of amazing facts and tips from from history. Again, we'll we'll include the links that we can for the content that Ben has mentioned in our show notes, and then we'll look forward to talking to you next month. Thank you very much. 


Ben Grussi  13:50

You're welcome.

A Few Good G-Men by Randall Glass
Internet Archive for Machinima released
Artery Machinima production
Speilberg's A.I. uses Unreal's Matinee engine in its production
Machinima showcased at the Lincoln Centre, New York, for the first time
Strange Company creates a Matrix parody training video
First green screen machinima released