Storytelling with digital media: Machinima

In Uncategorized on 2009-07-10 by Kyle Maxwell

Second in a series.

Imagine making a science fiction film with hundreds of starships, explosions, interstellar intrigue, and you-are-there camera effects. Imagine developing and presenting a rich storyline exploring a character’s innermost emotions. Imagine getting hundreds of thousands of people to watch the film and receiving adulation in industry press.

Now imagine doing this in your spare bedroom with a few games, an inexpensive video editing suite from your local computer store, and your desktop computer. And maybe a few friends helping with voiceovers.

This happens now, in an art form called “machinima“: creating films using games as the studio, so to speak, then editing and adding sound and a few effects. The films may be serious, comedic, dramatic, or even romantic. As with any primarily amateur endeavor, quality can vary considerably.

Most machinima filmmakers create these works out of love for the game or for their story, rarely for any sort of commercial gain, particularly since the game publishers would retain substantial interest in their copyrighted artwork used in the film. Some have started to push the envelope, however, developing their own graphic textures and 3D models. In these films, the underlying game engine really only plays the role of the soundstage .

But the explosion of creative output signals a new era as surely as the spread of literacy or the development of motion pictures did: while the ability to easily create immersive video may not have quite the same widespread effect on civilization, the next Orson Welles may begin as a teenager armed with a game and a video editing suite.

Next week: web comics & graphic novels.


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