Wednesday, October 18, 2006, 12:36 AM - Machinima
Years and years ago Mike and I got our start with Machinima by deciding to make a playable Half-Life map-pack to rival the likes of “USS Darkstar”. It was going to huge on story, and even bigger on scripted-sequence action. Every corner you turned would unleash a torrent of explosions, cinematic climax, and intrigue. When I sat down one night to type all of this out on paper, after weeks of telephone meetings and drawing sessions, I realized something important. We weren't out to make a playable game. We were out to make a film. So I phoned up Mike, sometime in late '99 early '00 and explained to him my idea of using the built in camera system in Half-Life to make a movie, instead of spending years fleshing out our mod. He instantly fell in love with the idea, and I was elated, because this was such a simple idea, I couldn't believe that we were the first to try it! About 9 months latter, I get an e-mail from Gordan over at Machinima.com... well, the rest is history.
Back then, we were punk kids. We didn't know what a budget was, after all, I'd filmed successfully in my backyard getting perfect results of GI-Joe's exploding in slow motion since I was 6. (Yes. I made the same 2 second film like a billion times, no, it's still not old.) The idea of producing a 'big' picture for free on the computer, using tools I knew by heart, was simply too awesome. So, that's what we did. 2299 came and went, foiled by our delusions of grandeur, but “Fake Science”
was easy enough.
Okay, so now we're two years along, in College and taking on press like the Titanic took on water. All the while coming up with “The Next Big Thing”.
Then we learned 3D Studio Max.
Then, we realized that Half-Life was not going to cut it for our “The Next Big Thing”. In fact, we found that nothing else on the market could. UT 2k4 came close, but the pipeline was annoying, and the results only turned out if you could save-as every five seconds. From random crashes, to camera paths becoming corrupt. Bleh. Fuck it.
Break time. Finish School. Become a zombie member of the 3D Max army. Check, check, and check. Ahh, and don't forget to submit Fake Science to...Ottawa.
Oh god, did this ever open my eyes. (One to the wide world of travel, and two....)
So after a nice Machinima break after School and the horrific events in Ottawa, I had some time reflect on the merits of Machinima as an art form that I could embrace. I had grown accustomed to the ease of creation in Max, but still longed for the low-poly days of video-game tech. Without a game or engine that would accept me as I was, I realized that Machinima sucks.SummerTech
Just because I was mad at Machinima for its barrier, barring the non-programmer traditional 3D artist oriented “Jack of All Trades,” didn't mean I hated it. In fact, I loved Machinima, and that anyone could pick up a game, and make a film all their own in such a short time. So, when by the grace of karma, the opportunity to teach a six week course at a kids summer camp came up, I took it without a second thought.
Aside from the best summer of all time, SummerTech re-sparked my drive to peruse Machinima. So, without Mike, I made my way to the 2005 Machinima Film Fest in NYC. A bunch of awesome things happened, and I met a bunch of cool enthusiastic patrons and press. I also got to see what the ILL Clan was doing with the Torque Engine. (Which I had purchased the month before, for shits and giggles.) Very impressive. I put Torque in my back pocket, and pull it out to count it every other update or so. Expect great things.
With me going on and on about girls from Tokyo
and rocket-scientist children wielding Machinima in NY all summer, Mike decided that he too should dust off the book of Machinima. We began work on the Space Man Biff project. On paper, it's the greatest Machinima film. Ever. Best part is, we can actually pull it off thanks to years of training and experience. No 2299 folly here.SummerTech (Part 2)
Weeks before we were due to tag-team the 2006 Machinima class in NY, Mike and I decided to open up Half-Life for some old-school Machinima moving making. Thus Diet Cola.
We still think Machinima sucks. We still think that rendering it all out in 3D Max would be best. I'm almost positive that Machinima as it is now is “Just for Kids”. You can quote me on that.
At the SummerTech 2006 Festival, someone asked me what I thought of Machinima, and of the “Space Man Biff” project we had been brewing for the last year or two, this is how I replied: “Machinima, right now it's for kids. That's why Mike and I are here, showing these kids that the games they love can offer more than the pre-built ride. All you need is a good script, and an eye for direction. As for me and Mike? We're just about sick and tired of Machinima as it is today. Talking Halo heads and simple Sims. Not much better than the days of Quake guys, it's been over a decade of that crap! There are a few true artist
out there making an impact, but it's not enough. Machinima is in it's pre-teens as it were, and so we're going to kick it in the nuts with the greatest fucking film you've ever seen. With luck, maybe a ball will drop.”
Thats right I said it. It's time to do one of two things. Either Dead on Que moves out, or Dead on Que moves up. Either way, I've safely distanced my self from the online Machinima community. Machinima.com has become a scary wasteland of I don't know what the hell, and the other Machinima sites are really too small to matter much. Machinimators would do well to distance themselves from the old-school ways too, and get into mainstream release avenues. YouTube, iTunes, Google, etc. Follow the people. Reach for the stars. Don't think it'll work? Then you need a lesson in Male Restroom Etiquette
As it stands, Machinima sucks. You'll get like two films a year worth your time at this rate. Machinima needs someone, someone from their numbers, to take it pro and leave everyone else in the dust. Mike and I are attempting just that, while keeping grounded in the roots, and teaching Machinima basics over the summer seasons.