Tutorials Coming

I get messages on Youtube fairly often asking me how I make machinima. Unfortunately, there’s no clear and easy tutorials I can link them to. Google brings up a variety of outdated guides, dead links, and unanswered questions.

There’s a number of tutorials on Youtube for machinima production, and while the author has good intentions to share their knowledge, most are pretty poorly made. It’s often someone mumbling to themselves, making mistakes, and using terms or shortcuts a newbie wouldn’t understand.

My goal is to make a series of tutorials to get people working ASAP. Short and to the point. From basic video editing, to more advanced tutorials covering the Unreal and Source engines. I’ve learned a lot through the help of others, and now it’s my turn to pass it on.

Stay tuned.

Looking for help with rigging/morph targets

This is kind of a long shot but I thought I’d put it out there…

I’m looking for someone with experience rigging characters as well as facial morph targets. I need a mesh rigged to an existing skeleton (needs to be done in 3DS Max). In addition I need a few morph targets for facial animation. For someone experienced this shouldn’t be too difficult a task, nor will it take very long. It’s something I can do myself, I’m just pretty slow and not very good at it.

Right now it’s soaking up a lot of my time and producing poor results, so if there just happens to be someone reading this that knows what’s up please get in touch with me.

The problem with the game industry

Game development these days is too bloated and time consuming. Creative positions have taken a back seat to technical challenges.

In most cases when a studio decides to start a game, they start from scratch. They hire an army of programmers, modelers, animators, management, QA, lawyers, and marketing people. Nameless workers in cubicles then devote the next few years of their life trying to make it all work. It would be absurd for a filmmaker to build a camera every time he wanted to make a film, yet this is the norm for the game industry.

As a result, games are taking longer to develop than ever before. Half-Life 2 famously missed it’s stated release date by 14 months, Team Fortress 2 took 9 years, Starcraft 2 still has no release date after being in development for at least 5 years, and many upcoming games are following this trend.

Half-Life had a huge mod scene in it’s early years. Counter-Strike was created with a team of two people and went on to become the most popular online game for many years. Unfortunately, the ability to make a game with such a small team has diminished. Even with the much larger online player base of Half-Life 2, very few mods are being made. It’s all become too much work and too complicated.

While I enjoy using different games to create machinima, I must learn new tools for each game that comes out, often with little or no documentation. Game developers give little priority to releasing or fixing tools that can aid with machinima or modding.

The Spore creature creator is a great example of game design done right. Although the game itself received mediocre reviews, the creature creator is what it will be remembered for the most. People with no experience were creating amazing creatures that looked about 90% as good as something professionally made.

This is the key for independent games to make a comeback in a huge way. People with an idea could pursue it rather than have technical hurdles slow them down. The days of making games with C++ and Maya should be history. The future is procedural and player generated content.

Give players the tools to enhance your game and they will bring it to a new audience.

Thoughts on Festivals

There’s been a lot of talk lately about machinima festivals, so I thought I’d share my opinion.

There’s not a whole lot of recognition out there for machinima, and it’s great that some venues are brave enough to include it. However, any sort of festival should be judged and not based on online votes. This is an opinion I’ve held for many years.

I remember the first contest I entered some years ago (under a different name). A friend and I sat down and wrote a script we were fairly proud of. We weighed the pros and cons of including certain elements, found some people to help with the voice acting, and filmed it. It was a little crude compared to today’s standards, but we were pleased with the way it came out. Everyone liked it and we got a lot of positive comments. Despite our success we lost to a “big name” machinima guy. His film contained no plot, no voice acting, no…anything (this wasn’t just my opinion, all the video comments pointed this out as well). It was obvious we never had a chance as a bunch of nobodies competing against a guy with thousands of fans to tip the online vote in his favor.

Years later and online voting still seems to be the preferred system for festivals. Why? They’re either lazy, out of touch with how the internet works, or hoping to get some free advertising knowing the entrants will spam their link everywhere. It’s a bad system.

It turns people nasty and against one another.

There still are some festivals that understand how to run things, which will hopefully influence others to adopt their system. I really admire what the guys are doing, taking the time to review and judge a HUGE amount of films. Although Second Life is a little too out there for me, I’ll be sure to check out the winners.

As a plea to any festival organizers; please do not use online voting. You will send the wrong message and alienate many people. Recognize those whether they be a veteran or a newbie. Don’t turn it into a popularity contest.


My newest video “Top FPS” is now up on YouTube.

I had a lot of fun making this and learned a lot along the way. The one downside is I had to butcher it a bit to meet Youtube’s time limit. The original script, even after it was edited down, was running close to 14 minutes (Youtube’s current limit is 10:59). Sure I could have posted it in two parts or uploaded it to a different site, but I decided conforming to Youtube’s rules would be better in the long run.

A Friday Update

I knew this blog would be neglected at some point (see first entry). Some people might be thinking to themselves “with no update for so long he must be doing nothing”. In reality I have been doing EVERYTHING. I could write a book on all I’ve learned in the past year or so. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of new techniques and I’ve had a lot of fun doing so.

I will try to provide an update every Friday to this blog from now on. Keyword being “try”.

In recent news World of Workcraft has been nominated in the 2009 Bitfilm festival. There’s a lot of great entries so be sure to check them out and vote for those you like.

I will be releasing a new video fairly soon, hopefully within a week. I know many people release screenshots and trailers of upcoming productions, but I prefer to keep things under wrap until completed. That’s just the way I roll.

A new year

2009 is here already! Looking back, 2008 was a great year. I had a lot of fun making machinima, won a few awards, recieved a lot of press, and got to travel around meeting lots of awesome people.

I need to start updating this blog more often and finalize a new design for the site, so expect those changes soon.

There’s a lot of other great games out there I want to work with and I’m busy planning future projects. With Youtube’s new HD format I’ll be sure to release everything in 720p.

Lastly, if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out a short video I made a few months back called Hax.

Back from New York

I had a great time at the 2008 Machinima FIlmfest where I met lots of awesome machinima people. My film “World of Workcraft” took home two awards, best writing and best short film. Thanks to my friends Oxhorn and Andre for the great voice acting they provided. Thanks to the organizers of the event as well, they did a great job putting everything together. There seemed to be several hundred people there in total. I really hope they do it again next year!

Machinima Filmfest 2008

World of Workcraft has been nominated for Best Short Format and Best Writing at the 2008 Machinima Filmfest.

The Winners for the individual categories will be announced on November 1st at the official Awards Ceremony at Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in New York.

There’s a bunch of great films this year so be sure to check out the complete list of nominees.

I plan on attending this event in New York and look forward to meeting all the other machinima makers.