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Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
Cap of Comment lvl 1. 
Thursday, August 30, 2007, 05:15 PM - Machinima
It’s been a while since I’ve made some commentary on the state of Machinima, but it seems like there are more than a few reasons to dust off the ol’ comment cap this summer.

First, the deal with Microsoft: Sounds good to me. Run with it, play with the boundaries, and tell them what you’re up to. Ask for insight from their legal dept, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to get back with you. You never know, it just might result in a wonderful new partnership between you and one of the worlds largest companies, and in my book, that ain’t half bad.

Is this the Golden age of Machinima? Probably. Does it get bigger? Oh yes. Are the good old “Birds of a Feather” days over and done? Hell no! The vocal core is still as tight-nit as always, members are always coming and going, and the ones who really love it will always be back for more. As the word gets around, more and more people will crawl out of the woodwork, crying, “Hey, I’ve been making (X) game videos for years! There’s a whole collection of sites for this crap?!” There are also folks who’ve been making film or animation with more traditional tools that see our plight and make it their own, bringing old-school techniques to the table, solidifying our stance.

I do hear cries of foul from the subtext , it reasons that Machinima is supposed to be for the every man, the xbox Kid and Joe PC, goofing off after work or school making funny vids for their friends. The cries scream that these days are numbered, the money machine Hollywood is setting its sights and that the whole ship will sink under her weighty gaze. I say this is not the case, or at least not so extremely the case. I’m afraid the Machinima cat is out of the bag, and with the help of sites like YouTube, Hollywood types may never gain the foothold needed to smash the existing system. Can they make quality Machinima? Sure, but they no longer own the theater; the visible shelf space is no match for online distribution methods. Brick and Mortar can no longer meet the demand of the hungry viewer. Movies are free at last, and Machinima is all a part of that movement.

Now the new trick is in monetizing your Machinima work. It’s almost obvious that you’re not going to be selling tickets here, and our particular sub-cultured audience doesn’t take to advertisement as currently known to marketing. A few podcast I frequent have already pointed this out, but it bears repeating that what’s old is new again. A few moments taken out of the regular show to pitch the product/service in a way integrates seamlessly with the program. Nobody will skip a section sponsored on the slight by Amazon when the topic is ‘I, your host recommend reading…’ The biggest problem with modern ads is that they are distracting. In fact, that’s their goal, make you notice them, and hopefully you’ll recall their brand when it’s time to buy. It’s similar to a buzzing fly, it’s annoying and you only wish to squash it. Take a moment at the start and/or end of your program to say, “This program brought to you by…” and be done with it. No interruptions, no bottom third, just quality entertainment made possible by company (X). As a Machinimator, you need to make sure you control how this happens, when eliciting sponsorship keep in mind your audience, format the ads appropriately, and make sure your sponsors are clear on this format before you even start negotiating. Of course, all of this pending you’re licensed appropriately. Money has a funny way of making small civil torts into federal crimes…

That's about all I've got time for this lvl, good luck and have fun out there! Oh and make sure you submit to the Machinima Festival Europe 07!

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Secret Projects, Push Backs, and Silver Linings 
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 08:09 PM - Machinima
According to the Overcast, I may a bit vague when it comes to my WIP descriptions; vague, perhaps even to the extent of both mysterious and intriguing. Certainly that wasn't my intention, (I guess I was more interested in describing my work-flow thoughts than the project in question) but I like where this is going so I will continue on with not but a subtle texture of possibilities.

Classes start at work next Monday, and I've been running around with my hands completely full for the last few weeks. You may partake in the fruits of my web-design labors right here if you're so inclined. It's only a fraction of my responsibilities these days, but the old design left much too much of the staffs' work solely in my tiny webmaster lap. Frankly they can do a better job of keeping their site fresh than I can, thus I made them a giant multi-user highly scalable blog site using Word Press MU as my platform.

Therefore, as of late, I've been coming home and zoning out until I wake up and try again the next day.I swear I just wrote my last blog entry, like, yesterday. Clearly I'm in need of some ice cream. Once things at work settle down (historically mid-September) I'll be able to better focus my brain on my extra curricular Machinima projects. To help me in this process Mike and I will be attending this awesome sounding workshop in Dallas next month. My hope is this will get me pumped and re-educated enough to jump full-bore into my little project, so that I may enter it into this years... wait, make that next years Machinima Film Festival!

Although I was really, really looking forward to spending some quality time in NYC this November (last year was amazing) I will enjoy the extra time to work on more Machinima entries. I'll just used the money saved in airfare towards Tokyo, Japan: Round Two this coming spring break. Only this time with a small army of American nerds, each one of us making the required pilgrimage to the holy land.
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Summer Time 
Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 11:47 PM - Everything
July rocks. Always has, always will. It's warm, the pool's always open, cooler always full, fireworks are the thing to do, and school is still just a glimmer, reflecting from the distance in the children's eyes. This July I managed to escape the wonders of employment long enough to enjoy my July 4th holiday in fabulous Las Vegas. I also managed to see a small mountain of excellent summer blockbusters, both on screen, and in print. Watchmen, Harry Potter (film and book), Transformers, Chuck and Larry... ok, so some more blockbuster than others, but it's been a fun month. The emotional gambit has been thoroughly run.

Somewhere in between the lines I also managed to deploy my pipeline for my next little Machinima project, and have nearly completed the storyboarding process. With next week mostly free to idle at my fancy, I suspect a rough pre-vis is an obtainable goal. There are a few contingencies, naturally, but it's all part of the painful balance of playing the games and creating from them, not all of them with a controller. So, the cool part is that I've got a nice easy way to create DX9 effects right in Max, and have them in my engine with the click of a button. I'll go over the whole process in greater detail after I release the final film. I honestly hope to hit the scene on the same level as the bigger studios when the time comes to show face in Fall. I only hope I'm not biting off more polys than I can chew. To counter balance it all, my primary method of attack is "Animation first, all else second." So, even if my raindrops don't refract the lighting just right by the deadline, I wish to at least have one hell of an animation anyway.

The 360 continues to teeter on the edge of cool yet useless. I hope the cheap electric violin I just ordered from Amazon yields more fun before September ends. Anyway, the USB controller works wonders with Overlord on the PC. While on the subject, I highly recommend the Wii version of RE4, so much fun that I actually beat it. Me, finishing a GAME!? Tells you something when I couldn't hold the interest to play for more than an hour on the original Cube version huh? That WiiMote really is freaking sweet. December 3rd simply cannot arrive fast enough.
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Stolen Life | Mini-Review 
Friday, June 29, 2007, 06:13 PM - Machinima
All the way from the land down under, my copy of Stolen Life came in this week! Woot! So, turn on that big screen, crank the stereo, plop in the disk and lets watch some machinima.

I could write pages of review, going into all the gritty details about how certain elements worked or didn't work but it's Friday, Las Vegas is days away, and frankly I don't think I could really do it justice like that so here's a SHO style out of 5 chucks review:

Story: 4/5
DVD Presentation: 2/5
Audio (sfx): 5/5
Music: 4/5
Voices: 5/5

Classic film noir, slow/mellow pacing, loads of exploratory camera work (as opposed to straight establishing shots, really helps set the mood), and some of the best over all audio performance I've seen in machinima. (Having professional actors didn't hurt either.) The graphics ate away at the potential for supreme excellence, but excellent it managed to become before the last frame anyway. The story really draws you in, however I must admit the slower pacing and mellowed direction almost put me to sleep. (Not in the boring way, more like... mesmerizing) Animation was stiff, but seeing as our cast of characters are robots, this only makes sense. All elements of the characters combined, they eerily formed a human bond with me as a viewer, by the end I was no longer watching robots in space, but people like me, just trying to survive...

Why the low score for DVD Presentation? Maybe it was my crazy-upscaling DVD player on my particular TV, but the transfer seemed quite bad. Blacks were saturated and had horizontal lines (Encoding issues? My crazy player?), and I was sort of hoping for some cool bonus footage. Next time include some interviews... or something, I mean, it's a freaking DVD release!

If you like Noir, Sci-Fi, or Machinima a real-whole-lot *cough*Ben*cough* I highly recommend Stolen Life, as it achieves greatness in all that and more.

Overall (not average) | out of |
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SummerTech Blog 2007 
Saturday, June 23, 2007, 11:36 PM - SummerTech
Greetings Campers!

As I sit here in Dallas enjoying my summer swimming, dating, outfitting classrooms with wicked new technologies, and playing with my Wii, I am struck with a tearful sorrow; that I am unable to teach Machinima this year at SummerTech. The other half of Dead on Que has taken over, and I know that Mike will make this THE SummerTech to remember for everyone involved!

Not only did I (co-)teach the Machinima course in years past, but I also did my best to keep the wider world community informed of our weekly exploits, and obviously I am unable to do so this year. So, I have asked, and the great Lord Barricus has agreed to take the blogging helm! I will also do my best to link to any other blog, or picture gallery that happens to crop up along the way.

Lord Barricus's Blog

"Have fun! Learn something!" -Steve
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