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Machinima in Europe (10/12-10/14)

By wrt@writerresponsetheory.org (Writer Response Theory)

[See also this previous thread on “The Movies” and Machinima]

machinima.gifThis weekend De Montfort University will be hosting films and filmmakers from around the world at Machinima Festival Europe. According to various Machinima insiders, a number of the videos are returning for awards. Hugh Hancock, coauthor of Machinima for Dummies, points out that “there’s quite a strong lean away from game-based Machinima.” (He’s posted links to many of the nominees here). Six of the films come from Second Life. Two use Moviestorm. My “22 Short Films about Grammar” (nominated for Best Series) use “The Movies.” The question becomes what is machinima when its not made from captured gameplay?

While some trace the Machinima tradition back to other hacking and reapropriation traditions, clearly a major strain of Machinima involves manipulating captured footage of game play. Consider Diary of a Camper, the first machinima drawn from Quake. Or what of the breakout hit Red versus Blue? (Red versus Blue will present an “original” video made for the Festival.)
A retro-hit “Kung-Fu Glitch” uses a Commodore 64 game Kung Fu Master (1984) (and a Retro Replay cartridge) for its material and it proves a curious case study.
In the music video, Entter and Goto80, the film’s director/hackers (dirackers), explain how they

manipulate the game’s graphics and functionality. The blue screen that appears at some points is the interface of the cartridge and the lists of letters and numbers is the data in the RAM. By simply changing this data, you modify the game. This technique was also used for the music.

Here is hacking at the center of a work of Machinima. On the other hand, the movie itself is more a recording of the hack, perhaps more akin to documentation of performance art, rather than a narrative production.The Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences declares:

Machinima can be produced in a couple of ways.

It can be script-driven, whereas the cameras, characters, effects etc. are scripted for playback in real-time. While similar to animation, the scripting is driven by events rather than keyframes.

It can also be recorded in real-time within the virtual environment, much like filmmaking (the majority of game-specific Machinima pieces are produced in this fashion).

While both of these approaches have their pros and cons, they are both Machinima-making techniques.

But the question remains to what extent is “reappropriation” a powerful force behind Machinima? It’s a question that gets behind the hacker aesthetic that directs many of the discussions of new media art. It is perhaps why “second attempts” at new media forms often garner much less attention than first ones. [More....]

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