And Now For Something Completely Machinima

Completely Machinima 8.3 Discussion September 2021

September 16, 2021 Ricky Grove, Tracy Harwood, Damien Valentine, and Phil Rice Season 1 Episode 8
Transcript Chapter Markers

Completely Machinima 8.3 Discussion, September 2021

Ricky, Tracy and Damien discuss whether long-form narrative machinima works as a storytelling format and the process of adapting creative practice, culminating in an open question to the audience!


machinima, film, animation, people, feature length, game, long, filmmaker, create, characters, watch, hour, episodes, sound, feature length film, story, design, early, real, thought


Damien Valentine, Tracy Harwood, ANFSCM, Ricky Grove, Phil Rice


ANFSCM  00:00

And Now For Something Completely Machinima 


Ricky Grove  00:07

What? Sorry I do this all the time. Okay. Hello. Hello everyone And Now For Something Completely Different, Machinima podcast! Thank you for joining us. I'm Ricky Grove, Master of Ceremonies along with Tracy Harwood and Damian Valentine. And joining me and the discussion, the third podcast of this month of September. Today, we are going we are without Phil rice today. I'm sorry about that. He is indisposed and unable to attend. But we promise we'll try to get him in just as soon as we can we miss you, Phil.


Tracy Harwood  00:53

Yes, we do. Yeah. So


Ricky Grove  00:55

We're going to have a short discussion of a topic that came up while we were going over our films last time. There were two very long films one was an hour and 40 minutes. And then the other one was like 1:25, 1:30, The Nobbit and War of the Servers and it occurred to me, a good topic of discussion would be 'is machinima suited to long form narrative storytelling'? Now I think one of the earliest, long form one was you Hancock's film, right, Tracy? Yeah, he do sort of what we're talking about feature film length, hour plus, yes. Can you tell us a little bit of the genesis of that film for him? Like I could if I could remember?


Tracy Harwood  01:51

Yeah, well, let me think the the... no, I can't remember. I really can't remember. No you've completely caught me on the hop here. Though we're talking about Bloodspell bloods? Um, yeah, well,


Ricky Grove  02:13

let me cover a little bit here. your acute embarrassment, and talk about the fact that he was one of the founders of machinima. And he always pushed towards even though he supported short, episodic pieces. He always pushed towards the feature length in his own personal efforts. And I think that's because part of what Hugh's motivation for being in machinima was that was a sort of displaced desire to be a professional filmmaker. And I say that in a positive way, not as a criticism for him. But he wanted to direct films, but he didn't have the money, or the time. And I would add, he didn't have the opportunity. Because it's so hard to get into feature film, film filmmaking. So when he discovered this method, where you could create feature length films, with little or no money, and still have the same effects, still have the same kind of backing. Using sets that were inside of, of game engines, with an audience of people who were already there, and interested in it, I think that's what he kept pushing towards all the time. And BloodSpell is a better example of what you can do with long form narration hour long plus. But inevitably, it comes down to the same problem over and over again, for me, whenever I watch a feature length machinima film. it just doesn't sustain my interest. It doesn't keep my disbelief from popping up. You know, one of the things you do consciously when you start to watch a film, is you accept the fact that this is an illusion, that these are all forms, that these are real characters, these are people and you buy into it. And a great films keep you into that. And then take you someplace on a journey. films that don't do that you pop out of that, that that feeling. And you start looking at other things. You say, Oh, well, that doesn't work. That doesn't work. Or that doesn't interest me or you become bored. And that's what happens to me when I watch films like War the Servers or The Nobbit. Now, again, that's not to say I don't admire the the huge amount of effort that went into it. There are many aspects of those film that I admire but as but as hour plus length narrations, they simply don't work. They don't have the strength to to be able to sustain a story for that long a period of time. And two things I want to examine. I want to examine what you guys think about that whether you think that machinima can sustain it. And what is it about machinima as a production medium and as a as a medium that keeps it from being able to sustain a long term narrative format. Damian, what are your thoughts there?


Damien Valentine  05:27

Well, I was thinking about my own experiences creating long form machinima. So I made four seasons of Chronicles of Humanity. And these episodes, most of them are less than 10 minutes long. And then I finished season one, I thought, I would not be like if I took all of these episodes and edited them together into a feature length film. So I did that. And the result was about an hour and 20 minutes long. And where the episode breaks were, the they didn't always line up well, so I had to create more footage to meet the brakes. To train Yeah, right, because one episode would end with the see they're flying off to this planet, the next episode begins with them arriving. And that doesn't cut very well. So as either creating something new to fill in that gap, which is very difficult, because the story was already complete, I didn't feel like it needed more, or is moving things around and changing the order of the story. And I did that for all four seasons. So the first two are an hour and 20 minutes. And that's a long time to watch something. And the third season is two hours long, because it ends up having more episodes in it. And that's a, that's a, that's long even by feature length standards, because a lot of feature films are an hour and a half. And it was interesting to do that. And occasionally, I think it would be nice to go back and watch my films. But I don't know if I want to watch them in that feature length format, I think I'd rather go and watch them in the shorter episodes because I can do one or two and then go and have a break and come back to it later. And I've been doing the same thing in my recent projects, that's the Empire because a lot of people are the fan comments are saying, when you finish all 32 chapters, you're going to edit them together into a proper Star Wars movie. I thought that sounds great. So I started tinkering around with that. I actually had to had the same problem is the episode breaks don't necessarily line up because in the book, it's fine, because chapter one or chapter whatever will end and then chapter two begins, it doesn't matter if the characters have arrived where they just left. Because that chapter break is a set break and you can have new items, it can have a time passed, it doesn't matter. So much when you're having it as a film. That is a problem. So at one point, I think I swapped around to chapter five, and six, or no four or five in the film edit, just to break it up. And I watched it too, the first 12 chapters, all those together. And I felt really bored. Maybe it's because it's my own film, and I'm very familiar with it is because the early chapters are very slow paced. But they're fine to watch, in the short segments less than 10 minutes. But once you put that several slow chapters all together, I think it's about half an hour, at least half an hour of just solid conversations, there's no action at all, doesn't necessarily make for an exciting film, which is what you'd expect Star Wars to be. I mean, if it's a different kind of film, that's fine, but Star Wars is very action packed. And so 30 minutes of solid conversation doesn't make for an interesting film. And then you finally start to get bits of action taking place. But by the time that you get to that is your attention is already wondering and it's hard to stick with it. 


Ricky Grove  09:01

Well, what was your motive in stringing them all together into a feature length thing to begin with?


Damien Valentine  09:08

I just thought wouldn't be great to see I've made a feature length like film. That was basically it. And I thought I've got the footage, I can just do it. And then I can't when I actually started doing it. I came across the problems that [Yeah,] go for doing that.


Ricky Grove  09:24

What was the response?


Damien Valentine  09:30

People seem to either Well, I made it available publicly. The response was, they didn't like it because it's animated, or they felt like it was too long or they just they just didn't like the animation. So just something that we discussed before.


Ricky Grove  09:43



Damien Valentine  09:46

There are some people so it was just it was a great story. And they just enjoyed the story. They didn't care too much about the animation. They did that. No one really compared it to the series version. So no one said I actually preferred it as soon Or I prefer the movie and it is either. They just gave you feedback on that particular installment, as it was they didn't compare between the two. So its interesting to put both out there. So which of these do you like best? And with Heir to the Empire goes is the fans asking, are you going to do this, so I'll see what I can do so far. And I worked out so that was about an hour and a half. And I worked out, it's probably going to be a four hour film, if I put all 32 together - I'm just guessing because I don't know. But based on what I've produced so far, estimating 4 hours. I don't know, an hour and a half is already hard to watch for hours, I struggle with the Return of the King and I love that film, the extended version of it, when it's the halfway break in between us usually when I stop, and then watch the second half the next day. So I don't know if...


Ricky Grove  10:56

You should take all of your films, all of them and put them together into one huge. 


Tracy Harwood  11:04

See, there's this thing of binge watching, binge watching, binge watching, which, you know is a is a is a legit thing now, I suppose... 


Ricky Grove  11:13

Yes, but isn't binge watching of episodes. Series. Now I've noticed binge watching a feature length films?


Tracy Harwood  11:22

Yeah, well, this was this is what I was gonna say was, I mean, some of the early machinimas that were serialized, and I'm thinking here, Red versus Blue, which was, you know, the first one that really was serialized. That was released as episodes. But in order for those guys to sort of move their game along a bit, they created a video, which became, you know, this video of season one, video season two, and what they were trying to do was compete with video TV in a TV series, which were, you know, cobbled together really, when they were joined together, I suppose, in in much the same way that if you go back far enough to some of the, you know, the classic literature works, they were also released as chapters weren't they [yes, Dickens novels], and exactly, and then, you know, put together and we read them now as a whole novel, not a serialized thing. And I think that's where a lot of the desire to create serialized, you know, you know, videos, or one big feature length thing actually came from in the machinima world was to try and emulate what was being done with other media formats that you were trying to compete with it same sort of time. I think what changed the game was was YouTube and really nothing on YouTube could could have that long form, experience, because, you know, you could not load that kind of length, the content for one thing. So, you know, soundbite type content became the thing that everybody was used to consuming for for many, many years, in fact, and it's only, I mean, when was the Dust channel released that last year, year before last? [Oh, gosh. So now,] it's two years old isn't it...?


Damien Valentine  13:29

Its a few years old. Now. I can't remember exactly why it's


Tracy Harwood  13:32

Its not that old. But it's only when that sort of channel this sci fi. It's not, it's not necessarily machinima. And it's not necessarily live action, but it's a combination of animation, live action, all sorts of shorts, but by shorts, what they mean are 15 to 25 minutes sort of length. Well, that's long form for YouTube consumers, I think, right. And now, we are seeing even even more longer form content being made available on YouTube because for example, COVID has meant that, you know, if people wanted to sit and watch something that was performed, they have to do it through a stream channel. So people are now a little bit more used to watching longer, longer, kind of more feature length type content. Does machinima translate I don't think it does. Really, I don't think you want to watch how was an hours of, of something that's not interactive do you? You wouldn't I wouldn't know you want to play the game. Are we competing with the game man? Yeah, we're in that kind of hybrid world of, you know, game-film in this kind of consumer context, aren't we? And, and at some point, you're going to get bored with just sitting still and not doing too much. You know, with your fingers on a keyboard so to speak...


Damien Valentine  15:00

I think you're absolutely right there, is the interactive element makes it difficult because I've got a friend who has been streaming all through the pandemic. And I've watched her streams. And it's fun to do that, because to interact with people in the text, and sometimes if she's playing a multiplayer game, she'll invite people in the chat to come and join her. So I've done that a few times. And there have been times when she's been playing a very story focused game. And I've gone, I've gone to bed because I'm just really tired. And I'll just catch up with the story I missed. And I've tried to let the next day. I just can't do it, because I'm watching her. But I can't interact with her. And I can't sort of say, why'd you do this, or, you know, as you get stuck, and just chat for help in solving the puzzles or whatever, isn't that interactive elements gone, because I'm just watching the the, the saved copy. And it's just not fun. But


Ricky Grove  15:52

That's a really good point that interactive quality. I think live streaming has an advantage in that. It's completely spontaneous. I mean, you, you can organize things like we do here will organize notes and outlines and everything, but I don't know where it's gonna go. I don't know where the conversation is going to go. So that provides an interest in itself. And that same sort of quality, I think you could recreate in short term films, because for on the production side, it's much easier to do five to 10 minutes segment than an hour and a quarter length film. I mean, when we're talking about War of the Servers and The Nobbit, I mean, my brain hurts thinking about just the practical side of putting all of that together. How do you? How do you organize everybody? How do you keep the thing, and I think there's a specific gift for people to tell long story long form narration, there's a real gift in being able to tell that kind of story in a long form. And I don't think machinima was designed for that to begin with. I think people who were in part of that community wanted to make the short pieces because that was the advantage of machinima is that you could put this stuff together quickly put it out, say hey, look at this. What do you guys think? Oh, well, I like that. I like this. And then you take that and you go back and you make another one. If everybody was making an hour and a half long piece every time. I don't think machinima would have ever gotten off the ground?


Tracy Harwood  17:27

No, I don't think so either. I mean, you know, Red versus Blue was in a series of what were they to two minute longer pieces. And they they were edited, kind of largely together, or, you know, pulled together in their season videos. But they would be the first examples of it, I would imagine of machinima certainly.


Damien Valentine  17:53

I remember those season videos, because I got into it just as Season Two was about to start. So I watched the season video of one. Or even though the ages, all those episodes together is still less than an hour, which made it manageable. Yeah. When I did it was an hour and a half, which is too much, I think. Yeah. So I don't know what happened with the later. Red versus blue, the episodes did get longer as time went on. So imagine those season videos grew in length as well. So I don't know what happened later on in the series. But I mentioned that.


Tracy Harwood  18:24

I'm like, Yeah, I think I'm like a lot of machinima creators, they were so prolific and their audience was, I mean, they, they their audience grew so quickly, didn't it. So they managed to shift and change their audience as they were developing it. And they were the ones that created demand for it. So they could do what they like, but most machinima creators are not the likes of Roosterteeth they have to work very hard for them. And you have to pitch into what your audience expects to a certain degree. And, you know, be be aware and be cognizant of who that audiences and how you're going to. You know, at the end of the day, the end of the day, people have so much choice now with what sort of content they can watch. What you're fighting for is his share of eyeballs. Really? Yes. Yeah. Share mind share of eyeballs.


Ricky Grove  19:19

Hey, I have a question for both of you. Do you think that early machinima was more, in terms of their in terms of filmmakers choices to tell stories, do you think they were more influenced by cinema, traditional movies and television, or the cutscenes and gameplay of the game that they were choosing?


Damien Valentine  19:43

I would say the films and TV series they were watching because in those early days of machinima, the cutscenes in games weren't that great. It's only when Bioware really started pushing for the cinematic look in their games. other developers thought, actually, that's a good idea, we should do that. Oftentimes you get very static cameras, and the characters would do things, but they wouldn't move around, you wouldn't get close up to the character faces or whatever the action was, it would just be, it may change briefly from one angle to another, but you're still getting long shots. And it doesn't feel like really pulling you in as a film viewer. It's just, they needed someone to put the camera and that's the place they chose, because you can see where they're positioned the characters in the room. And that's it. So I don't know if those cutscenes inspired people that much.


Tracy Harwood  20:39

I don't think it was cutscenes. I think it was, I think it was film. But it very quickly became something more than film. Not least, because where you could put the camera wasn't where you would put it if you were creating film. So I can remember people like I mean, the reason I think films, the main influences, because Paul, Paul Marino, Frank Dellario, most of those guys came from film and camera work. And I remember them talking about, you know why camera work is so different in machinima. Because you could put, say, for example, you could put a camera in the air where you could never put it in a real film. Or you get an angle that you could never create in a you know, in a in a live shot.


Ricky Grove  21:37

Right. Or in a way where the camera could go through the scenery. Yeah, in a way that I could never do that before.


Tracy Harwood  21:45

And switch between perspectives and what have you. And I think, I think it very quickly became something that was completely different to filmmaking, but inspired by filmmaking, and inspired by, by what you could do in a game really in a 3d virtual environments. And that's why I think, you know, I think the rest of the world is now catching up on the use of 3d virtual environments. But it's something that machinima creators have done for years.


Ricky Grove  22:16

Yep, yep. And certainly Nvidia's Omniverse is a nod towards that way of working.


Tracy Harwood  22:24

Absolutely. And so is Unreal. But, you know, Unreal came from a get, you know, a game engine and is now so much more than a game engine. So the rest of the world demanding that kind of ability to work in that way that they've tapped into...


Damien Valentine  22:42

Speaking of Omniverse to last about a year ago, now, when Nvidia announced that the new range of graphics cards that they did the because obviously couldn't do a live presentation they did. The guy was in his house in his kitchen, and he was showing off the graphics cards. They revealed only recently.


Tracy Harwood  23:00

Yeah last week. 


Damien Valentine  23:02

Yeah. wasn't real. It was generated in omniverse. And they didn't want to tell anyone, just to see if anyone would notice it wasn't real, and no one did as far as I know. And even think 16 seconds of him. He wasn't real either. They use a CGI version of him here. Just to test it out. And again, no one noticed. Yeah, I


Ricky Grove  23:21

I thought that was a witty, witty joke on everybody. That was great. Yeah,


Tracy Harwood  23:24

I think that was quite funny as well. Yeah.


Ricky Grove  23:27

So if if machinima is primarily better suited to a shorter format, why don't people keep making feature length movies in machinima?


Damien Valentine  23:40

I think it's the fans of films. And like with Huge, like what you said with you, they want to be able to produce it sort of feature length film, but they don't necessarily have the resources to go out and do a live action one. So that turning to machinima as a way of producing content and then realizing well actually, I could just produce a lot of content and make this feature length film that I like. And it doesn't necessarily work.


Tracy Harwood  24:09

He was a real frustrated filmmaker wasn't he. I mean, I can remember him talking about going to you know different film festivals like Cannes on what have you with a with a view to try to pitch film ideas to you know, different studios and what have you. Or, you know, pick the brains of directors whilst whilst he was there. He really did want to be that, that filmmaker and had neither the money or the background to allow him to get into that as a first career choice. I mean, he always said that it had he had his time again, he would never have landed on machinima, would never have used it to create his works, because it's just in the end generated too many problems at the business end of it, not the creative end of it. But you know the distribution end of it just restricted what he could then do with the, with the work - you know pertained to the all the issues that some of the early guys had with, with IP, and the use of games that, in those days have never even thought about other possibilities for using their virtual environments.


Ricky Grove  25:28

Perhaps there's a desire to use the machinima feature film as a kind of calling card as a kind of sketch for what you can do as a filmmaker.


Tracy Harwood  25:38

Yes. We do see that a bit. I mean, you know, we talked this week, this last week, about Robert Stoneman's work, for example. I mean, he's a cameraman, and has worked on things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Fast and Furious just recently, and you know, one or one or two other professional cameraman, he's not necessarily a CGI you know, creative in his day job. Machinima is something that he does on the side seemingly, yeah. as being as being a cameraman. Just, it's it's kind of interesting. I think that how people again, COVID I think has pushed people to be very creative during lockdown. [Yeah,] we've we've reviewed some amazing films that people have just cobbled together in their sitting rooms. Do you remember? them? Not the Mandalorian Rap, but the Baby Outlaw Mando video [Oh, yeah,] I mean, what a corking video put together in somebody's living room over a period of three weeks. Yeah.


Damien Valentine  26:48

Yeah, there's that guy that when one of my film was up for one of the awards and he made a machinima film and I still be able to find a copy to watch, which is the same code like to see it. He was a he was a filmmaker, he did live action film, because of COVID he obviously couldn't. So he's also like playing video games, and decided to try out making one of his films out of one of his favorite games as a way to still continue making films when he didn't do what he normally does.


Ricky Grove  27:22

Because he's obsessed with the pleasure of making stories using film.


Damien Valentine  27:27

Yeah. And I said, I'm about to find a copy because I'm really intrigued to see what he has done.


Ricky Grove  27:34

Yeah, yeah. You know, which gives me we didn't mention an important film or if we did, it could be advanced Alzheimer's on my case, but I don't think we mentioned Ozymandias - Hugh Hancock's film.


Tracy Harwood  27:48

No, we didn't. And that I think is a different type of classic machinima. That I mean, I I think he made that as an experimental video in order to test demonstrate the technology.


Damien Valentine  28:11

And things like the hand push the sound aside, and the sound actually moves. Yeah, that's like, that's a struggle even now to be able to pull that off without a huge amount of work.


Ricky Grove  28:24

But yeah, when I earliest people to, and I love that irony. I mean, here's this guy who wants to be a real filmmaker in the in the real world and a pro world and yet, here he's creating these first time efforts in machinima that inspire people and tell them how because he was a leader. He's telling them hey, one of the ways you can tell stories is to take literary classics and do something with them and machinima. [Yeah,] As a machinima film, it's awful. But as a way of sharing, well a possibility. I think it was great.


Tracy Harwood  29:01

Yeah. Yeah. And Ben will review that for us as part of our This Month in History [Oh, cool.] He'll be doing the classics through the through the early days of of machinima as well. Okay, thank you. Ricky, I was gonna ask you a question. I mean, you're, obviously you have a professional background as a as an actor and a performer. How did you adapt to being a machinima and creator, if you like,


Ricky Grove  29:34

it was very comfortable. You know, I had decided to leave television and filmmaking and I was at home. I had a regular job as a bookseller, which I've always had it whenever you become an actor, you work in entertainment. You always have to have have to have a secondary career in order to support yourself and some people do waitering some people do other other things. My choice was book selling. So I'd have my day job as a bookseller. And I'd come home. And I love to read. But I wanted something that was more involving with other people collaborative. And I had heard about machinima. And so I went on to, and joined and got on the forums, and there was a channel in which they were saying, productions looking for help. And somebody posted a thing where they were working on a production in LA, and they needed voice actors and help I contacted them. We met physically first. And then the rest of the time, it was emails, and that started the game rolling, I had always been interested in sound. back through my theater days, I designed sound for a couple of theater productions that I was involved in, I wrote a couple plays and designed the sound for them. And so I thought this was not only a good opportunity for acting, where I didn't have to worry about money. Money wasn't an issue wasn't the driving force, it was the love of, of doing it that people wanted to. But it also had an opportunity to do sound design. And so this same director, who hired me to do the or not hired me, but asked me to participate in the the Only the Strong Survive. That was the first one, Jason Choi. And I said, Well, I'd like to do the sound design as well. And so I did the sound design for that. Yeah. And the acting turned out really well, because we rehearsed a lot, which I liked. It was very similar to theater. And, but the sound design was not a very good experience, because I turned in my first sound design, and Jason is a very, he's not like Michelle Pettit Mee, who would be subtle and, and considerate in her comments. Jason was a blunt person. And he just said, this sucks, you have to do the whole thing over again. And I'm like, you know, I just spent like, eight hours designing the sound for this piece. And, you know, after I got over the initial annoyance, I said, Okay, by God, I'll show you, I'll show you, you want to have a sound, I'll show you I can design a better soundscape than what you imagined. And that's exactly what I did. And the sound was much, much better. So even though his way of getting made it work better was not very helpful. It eventually turned out to be a very good thing. And it also gave me confidence in the fact that I could design sound design, because it's a very different experience designing sound for theater than it is for film. And I had to sort of learn from scratch, how to do multi editing and layered editing and all of that stuff. And I really, really enjoyed it. And it really got my creative juices going. And that's what led me into machinima and participate more broadly in the community.


Tracy Harwood  33:12

Fascinating. Do you also do sound design for theater as well?


Ricky Grove  33:17

No, I got out of theater. Actually, I did. I did quite a bit of theater in LA. But I don't only as an actor, not a sound design, the company that I was with, was very. They were unwilling to collaborate in those ways, I could have done some good sound design, but that you were very much in your role. When you were in working with this theater group. It was an experimental theater group called City Garage. And I really liked it. I did some of my best work there. But the director and her husband, who was the producer, were very regimented in their roles that people would play they were very heavily into controlling how everything worked out in in a way that's a good thing for experimental theater work because it tends to be very sloppy. And their their focus on getting everything detailed, and laid out was just perfect, but I did do some other sound design for a couple other productions. Two more that I did, and I really liked doing that. I really I wished I sort of, I kind of wished I could have done more of it. But I did quite a bit of sound design for machinima and I'm very proud of it.


Tracy Harwood  34:37

Well, I think your your whole contribution to the community has been hugely beneficial from from all the years that I've seen you involved in in machinima. Well, thanks one way back in the early


Ricky Grove  34:52

Oh I sure love it and I'm glad to be a part of it again.


Damien Valentine  34:56

I'm glad that you've been part of the community and You've done a lot of voice work for me, and that the things I've seen you do have been very inspiring. 


Damien Valentine  35:06

Thanks. I did quite a bit of work with M Dot Strange and his. Now there's an interesting contrast, he does feature length films created inside of Cinema 4d. So it's a professional level. And his his films work. I did voices for quite a few of his, although interestingly, his newest film is going to be a hybrid machinima film. And he shot almost all of it in Unity in real time, and part of the thing that he loved about it is that the process of animation and turnover was so much faster in Unity than the careful later in fact, that's one of the reasons why I created Nightmare Puppeteer was that he wanted to give people an opportunity to create something very fast. So they don't have to go through this agony of animation curves and setting points where they change and then adjusting and just endless nightmare of spending three weeks on a one minute scene, you know, he wanted two people to to get stuff done fast. So it's gonna be interesting to see the difference between his feature length film shot in Unity versus the previous ones that were all shot in Cinema 4d. That's going to come up very soon, he finished it about two months ago, he's I'm finishing up post production work, probably October, maybe early November, we'll have a big release, we'll have a big announcement on this.


Damien Valentine  36:43

I'm wondering if one of the reasons machinima doesn't translate into long form format is, if you're using a game to tell your story, the games, then you got to have limited animations no matter what game it is. So if you see characters walking along, they're going to have the same walking animation. [That's right,] you're going to get that for an hour and a half. If you watch a live action film, or a feature length not machinima, animated film, those walking animations are going to be unique every single time that character walks. Part of it is the repetitive repetitiveness of what you're seeing. Because it's just simply not possible to have unique walks in the machinima. Unless you do something like you could do motion capture all the way through. But then you've got to have access to the motion capture equipment, and motion capture for walking is very difficult. But you get that unique performance, and you still gonna have that sort of roughness to it which can draw you out as well is part of that repetitiveness in limited iterations is you don't always get smooth transitions between different things. So your character will suddenly just stop, you don't get a smooth turn, when they turn around it. They make some of their other games where the character just turns like that without their legs moving and things like that, that can be very distracting and pull you out. Whereas if you had a is what you just said about using something like Cinema 4d, that's professional rendering animations package where you can have the unique animations or... 


Ricky Grove  38:24

That's what M Dot Strange would do. I mean, he would go through every scene and and animate the scene uniquely, every time he wouldn't. I mean, he might, he might borrow a piece, a sitting down animation or something might borrow. But for the most part, he reanimated everything. Which is part of the reason why he likes Unity now is because it allows him to be able to do quicker animation styles. And I think I think smarter filmmakers can cover some of that reused animation by shooting it in a different way. But you're absolutely right, those repeated animations things. You people see that when they're watching it, they may not be able to say what it is. But they know that and it takes them out of the their suspension of disbelief. Certainly in War of the Servers. You saw the same animation over and over and over and over again. And that's what made it hard to stay with it as a story.


Tracy Harwood  39:20

Yeah, I remember and when we were writing the book, we did an interview with Ian Chisholm, whose series Clear Skies [Oh, yeah.] Well, he uses mo cap. iPisoft, right. which I think was launched at the 2008 Machinima Expo festival. Yeah. Basically, he tries to overcome some of the limitations of the engine that he's using game engine that he's using by creating the animations using this mo cap technology, which I think is really interesting, but I do remember him saying there was a really steep learning curve to using that particular technology at the time. But we are now what? Quite a few years after that, aren't we? Yeah,


Ricky Grove  40:18

I think that's a, I'm glad you brought him up because I was thinking about him. He's one of the few filmmakers that actually was successful in, in creating long form machinima. And I think part of it is is exactly what you were pointing out Damian, that varied animation in it. But he also had a real sense about how to tell an arcing story in long term that that that is not an easy thing to to learn, I think I think it's easier to be more successful telling short term stories than it is telling long term stuff.


Tracy Harwood  40:52

Yeah, you've got to be a storyteller. You've got to have the craft.


Ricky Grove  40:57

I think in his third film and reading through the script, I was really impressed with how, how well the script was written how, how careful it was laid out, and how the whole sense of dramatic structure and it worked really well. 


Damien Valentine  41:16

It also cuts out very nicely into footage of spaceships from EVE Online. So you can see the characters talking, but you're not seeing them repeating the same animation because you're getting the spaceships moving. And that's if they move in the same way. That's fine, because you expect that from static object that doesn't have any animation to it, because it's going to fly forward. So it's going to fly left or right. So you expect that it doesn't look wrong. Whereas if you see characters, the same group of characters for an hour and a half, doing the same thing that feels wrong. So I think he was very smart in the way he would cut away from the characters to show other things. Yeah. Which helps break it up.


Ricky Grove  41:55

So he was a smart filmmaker. That's one of the in a good planner and had a good script to begin with. So yeah, very impressed with that.


Tracy Harwood  42:02

It's not always true that it doesn't work.


Ricky Grove  42:05

No, but I think for the most part, it doesn't. At least that's my opinion. Well, listen, what do you guys think? Well, people out there who are listening to this? Do you think machinima works as a short term narrative? Or can it work in the long term? Let us know contact us at, leave a voice message, curse at us. Give us an example of better cursing than we found in The Nobbit. We want to hear it and we'll play it on this show. And we're gonna work hard to bring Phil Rice back soon, because his input is so important. We miss him. Come back soon, Phil. And thank you guys for sharing this long, lasting three hours for us because we did we do all three at the same time. So we're all getting tired. But thank you very much, Tracy and Damien, for being born in this conversation, and we'll see you next time.

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Nvidia Omniverse's graphics card launch video
Why do people make feature length machinima?
Ozymandias, Hugh Hancock
Adapting creative practice for machinima
M Dot Strange, new film project
Game animation vs mocap
Clear Skies, Ian Chisholm
Audience provocation!