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Machinima: Making Movies Using Computer-Game Software

Machinima is the art of making computer animation using software from video games, rather than expensive, dedicated computer-animation software. I'm no expert on the subject, but here are some of my favorites.

"Machinima" is the art of making computer animation using software from video games, rather than expensive, dedicated computer-animation software. I'm no expert on the subject, but here are some of my favorites.

The first machinima I ran across was a hilarious, 2001 cautionary tale for teen-age geeks.

iFilm.com describes it this way: "Remember back in the day when your mother told you not to play Dungeons and Dragons? She told you it would make you satanic...so you played anyway. That's when you discovered D&D turns you into something much worse: a gigantic nerd."

My teen-age years predate D&D, but we played massive amounts of Risk. I was, of course, nothing like the weird hammerhead-shark guy in this video who's looking for girls.

"Summoner Geeks" uses characters from two video games: Summoner and Red Faction.

The Electric Sheep Company, a firm that consults with businesses looking to establish a presence in Second Life, has an active machinima operation. My favorite of theirs is this Star Trek parody.. I'd love to visit that reproduction of the Enterprise bridge. Do you know what the SLURL is?

The Grid Review is a humorous machinima news report about events in Second Life. This recent entry looks at a book-signing by Dean Koontz in Second Life, an in-world MTV dance party, and reports that 80s rockers Duran Duran would be joining SL. The Grid Review is produced by Electric Sheep and Edelman public relations.

Finally, possibly the best example of machinima I've seen is the story of Molotov Alva who disappeared from California in January, and re-appeared in Second Life. Alva sent video dispatches back to the "carbon-based world" we live in, and filmmaker Douglas Gayeton pieced them together and posted them to the Internet. The first episode's been out forever; I'm waiting patiently for the next update.

I became intrigued by the idea of machimima when it was described for me by Electric Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck, back in February. It combines elements of animation with real-life moviemaking, including props, sets, and acting. Actors in machinima, known as puppeteers, use a mix of preprogrammed movements and spontaneous activities to bring their characters to life. Neat.

Do you do machinima? What's some of the best machinima you've seen?

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing