Monthly Archives: August 2022

Completely Machinima History with Ben Grussi – Unreal Engine

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes August 17, 2022 1 Comment

In this episode, Ben goes back to the archives and digs out the earliest days of Unreal…. Long before the launch of Unreal Engine, the first machinima productions were made in Unreal 1 as early as 1998.  Ben then traces the lack lustre performance of Unreal machinima as a genre until such time as the Make Something Unreal Contest was launched in 2003 – then BANG!!!



YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes and Links

Unreal 1 Released – 22 May 1998

The Unreal engine added some interesting shorts to the Machinima community portfolio of things created under the engine. Unfortunately, things really did not go very well, the game’s AI and scripting systems caused some unexpected problems for machinima productions. Chief among them, the game struggled to reproduce a recorded scene since the AI would sometimes react differently and cause the movie to breakdown and crash the game or the movie would not play correctly – none of which was the fault of the film creator.

Machinima unfortunately didn’t make a big mark on this game, even with the release of the Unreal Movie Studio suite from UnFramed Productions.  However, it was partly responsible for the creation of Unframed Productions after co-founder James ‘eVOLVE’ Hammer-Morton (years later, a professional voice actor) worked on Unreal films under the banner of Team Evolve. James teamed up with co-founder Hugh McDonald (Solo) to create UnFramed Productions which tried to salvage the Unreal machinima movement with Arcadia.  The project was shelved, however, due to lack of staff.

Unreal Tournament 1 – 23 May 1999

Unreal Tournament was developed as a multiplayer heavy focused game, as was Quake 3 Arena. The game was very popular due to its highly fresh and fun gameplay but machinima development really didn’t happen with any great speed. In fact not many films were produced until a free movie-making tool developed by Internet Team Reactor4 came along, dubbed Real-Time Movie Studio or RTMS for short.  RTMS enabled players to have better control in producing movies that were mostly geared to the action genre (why not, its action game isn’t it 😉 ).  Unfortunately, there are no notable movies attached to this engine but there is one movie still under development which could change that.

Unreal Tournament 2003/2004 

Date: 22 September 2003

Date: 16 March 2004

Unreal Tournament 2003 comes prepared for machinima enthusiasts, being prepacked with a new cut-scene producer and editor dubbed Matinee.  Not much was produced with this new tool.  Eric ‘Starfury’ Baktius was the first machinima film maker (outside of Epic Games) with his test film called Sucker.  In a effort to stimulate the creation of new content using these tools, Unreal Tournament’s developer Epic Games launched a huge contest – the Make Something Unreal Contest aka MSUC -which was intended to promote development of user made content ranging from new models and levels to new gameplay genres. Epic also included a category for machinima productions under the title of Non-interactive Movie in the later years. The contest was originally launched for the 2003 edition of the game, since later years required mods/movies to be made in UT2004. 

Friedrich Kirshner’s aka Feizi’s The Tournament, a runner-up in the contest, was also featured at the 2nd Annual Machinima Film Festival. UnFramed Productions created Lucky Man was also a runner-up.  Other films that won were from previously unheard of creators such as EG_Intro from Hongman Leung and The Showdown by Accelerated Pictures.

screencap: The Journey

Key dates and Events

5 March 2000 

Unreal Movie Studio also known as UMS is released by UnFramed Productions

20 July 2001 

It is discovered that Steven Spielberg has used Unreal Tournament (Epic Games) for the set design of his movie AI (Artificial Intelligence)

20 July 2001

Epic releases details about its new Machinima tool for the upcoming Unreal Engine games called Matinee

7 October 2002 

Starfury makes the First Unreal Tournament 2003 movie with Matinee called Sucker

3 February 2003

Unreal II: The Awakening released 

4 March 2003

Ken ‘3dfilmmaker’ Thain reports that Epic is planning a contest that will include slots for machinima productions made in Unreal Tournament 2003

7 July 2003 

Epic and NVIDA formally announce the $1,000,000 Make it Unreal Competition.  One of the categories is Best Non-Interactive Movie with $50,000 prize for the winner. The Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences also co-coordinated the machinima portion of the contest

Make Something Unreal Contest 2004

16 October 2003

Epic Games releases a FREE version of it’s Unreal Engine for use with education ional and/or non-commercial projects – a massive opportunity for machinima creators and others

Blade Runner and Gate to Mordor Clip

https://archive.org/details/br_game_trailerhttps://archive.org/details/Gate_To_Mordor

4 May 2004

Winners of the Phase 2 – Real Time Movie- Category of the ‘Make Something Unreal Contest’ were announced

  • 1st Place – Infection
  • 2nd Place – EG_Intro Movie
  • 3rd Place – The Showdown
  • 4th Place – Unreal Films: Eternal Combat

Runners Up

  • WrongGame Matinee
  • Hollow Moon
  • The Tournament [Version 2]
  • LuckyMan
  • FlaTClaN_TheMovie

4 July 2004

The GameOn Video project is seeking Unreal 2004 Level Editors for a Machinima project to be nationally distributed by Volvo (The Automaker) https://archive.org/details/Game_On_Short_Film

14 September 2004 

Atari and Epic Games’s Make Something Unreal Contest Phase 4 Submission window closes – it received the biggest Machinima submission to date with 14 entries!

14 October 2004 

Epic Games released the $1,000,000 Make Something Unreal Contest

Phase 4 finalists

Real-Time Non-Interactive Movie Finalists:

Real-Time Non-Interactive Movie Honorable Mentions:

  • Robin Hood & The Kings Ransom (single Player Mod)
  • Neosaka: The Forgotten (?)
  • The Bank Job
  • The Unreality HAS YOU!!
  • Lawdogs (Multiplayer/SP? Mod)
  • Testimony of a Paraqeet
  • Intelligent Life
  • Blade Runner – https://archive.org/details/br_game_trailer
  • Piddly’s Chance (Single Player Mod)
  • Antechamber
  • Hollow Moon (Single Player/MP?) Mod

24 January 2005

Epic Games announced the winners of the Grand Finals of the Make Something Unreal Contest (MSUC) for the Non-Interactive Movie Category

Screencap: Sparked Memory

1 February 2005

A short tidbit from HomeLAN Fed’s interview with the Unreal developers on the Make Something Unreal contest: “HomeLAN: on another subject, why was Journey picked as the Best Movie award winner?  Steve Polge: Journey was unique and well done. It had a thoughtful story line, and unique art. It certainly didn’t look like it was running on the Unreal Engine.”

Completely Machinima S2 Ep 43 Films (August 2022)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes August 11, 2022 Leave a reply

In this episode, Damien, Ricky and Tracy discuss four very different films.  Damien reviews an interesting explainer on witches in The Folklore of Phasmophobia game, Ricky presents us with another of Jae Solina’s tutorials, this time on path tracing in Omniverse, Tracy selects Tiny Elden Ring – yep, its tiny! And Phil, absent due to sickness, ironically picked a satirical Zombie fest, which mixed Walking Dead ‘live action’ with machinima!  The team then discuss that approach to creating films, highlighting some of the key challenges with some more fab examples of films that have used the techniques well. 



YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes and Links

0:57 The Folklore of Phasmophobia | Modern Mythology, by The Digital Dream Club (released 9 January 2021)

The Folklore of Phasmophobia

9:51 NVIDIA Omniverse Machinima Path Tracing Test, by JSFilmz (21 June 2022) and a nice little article on the difference between rasterization, ray tracing and path tracing that folks might find interesting, Nvidia says real-time path tracing is on the horizon, but what is it? By Eric Frederiksen, Gamespot.com, 1 May 2022

NVIDIA Omniverse Machinima Path Tracing Test

17:33 Tiny Elden Ring | Tilt Shift, by Flurdeh (11 April 2022) and here’s Flurdeh’s list of filmmaking tools https://github.com/Flurdeh/Youtube-Resources and a post-production tutorial on the tilt shift effect tutorial, How to create Tilt-Shift / Miniature World Time-lapses, by Science Filmmaking Tips (24 Jan 2017)

Tiny Elden Ring

27:27 What a typical project Zomboid Run looks like, by Pathoze (26 Jan 2022)

What a typical project Zomboid Run looks like

31:45 Discussion: using live action with machinima footage in films, what are the challenges?

Examples mentioned –

39:11 Damien’s The Great Bug War on Machinima Expo (8 December 2014)

Damien and Kim Genly

46:12 Ricky’s reference to a 2D/3D combo – Carson Mell’s TARANTULA A-1 : Nightmares (5 August 2012), shot in  Los Angeles

TARANTULA A-1: Nightmares

48:30 Phil Tippett’s stop mo film Mad God, including live action with animation (now available on Shudder TV)

Mad God

51:20 Tutsy Navarathna’s film, A Journey into the Metaverse and an interview we did with him on the podcast in Season 1

A Journey into the Metaverse

Real-Time Movie Challenge: Mood Scenes Announcement!

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes August 8, 2022 1 Comment

Award-winning screenwriter John MacInnes talks to Tracy about his new real-time movie challenge just launched – its a contest with a very interesting difference, using Unreal Engine 5. Its all about mis-en-scene… “the skill, the challenge, is to actually reproduce a tone or a feeling and affect the audience… there’s something really challenging and valuable in that exercise in itself…” And the end result? Well, its a meta-movie of course! Oh, and did we mention the prizes…?!



YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes and Links

The Real Time Mood Scene Challenge website

Unreal Engine 5 download from website

Start practising being moody! John has created 6 very different scenes and prompts for you to work with in the contest… pick your favourite!

Find out more about John MacInnes and his passion for virtual production and machinima in our interview here

and if you want to find out more about Jae Solina’s aka JSFilmz movie we discuss in the interview, here’s a link to the CM Film’s ep where we reviewed the short. Go to time stamp 35:57

Completely Machinima S2 Ep 42 News (August 2022)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes August 3, 2022 Leave a reply

In this episode, Ricky, Tracy and Damien discuss some of the more interesting machinima and real-time things they’ve trawled the internet for during the last month.  Tracy gives her take on the GTA Online performance of Hamlet by Sam Crane, some interesting uses of Unreal Engine, tech tools and a fun way to simulate gravity. Damien brings Godot to the table and highlights some worrisome news about Unity, before waxing lyrical on Star Trek’s Strange New World’s use of Unreal. Ricky finds an interesting Unreal Engine Field Guide and discusses the latest updates to Nightmare Puppeteer. 



YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes and Links

1:30 Feedback and comments from Mike Clements, 3D Chick, EE Studios, JSFilmz, TMC, Lord Krit and Chris Newell

4:04 The Snow Witch, by Britannica Productions, reviewed on CM podcast Season 1, Episode 18

16:20 Sam Crane’s GTA Online performance of Hamlet, an interesting audience experience (live 4 July 2022)

22:41 Digital replica of co-op live music venue strikes the right chord, Unreal Engine, 23 June 2022

23:22 Christopher Nolan: How to make a good no-budget film | Christopher Nolan on Following, by Cinedome, published 28 June 2022

23:51 50 Greatest Fictional deaths, Slate.com, by Dan Kois, 20 July 2022

24:31 AI dubbing service by Papercup

25:00 Markerless hand tracking in DeepMotion Animate 3D

25:50 Rotate you monitor to simulate gravity in Unreal Engine 5 using Android orientation data, by Ayoub Attache, 12 July 2022

27:14 Godot 4 engine can now make movies – explainer, by Gamefromscratch, released 29 June 2022

Godot 4

29:08 Behind the scenes of Netflix’s ‘In Valuted Halls Entombed’ | Spotlight | Unreal Engine, by Unreal Engine, released 27 June 2022

32:29 Star Trek’s Strange New Worlds – a better use of Unreal than Mando?! Review in American Cinematographer, by Noah Kadner, 23 June 2022

42:04 Should we be concerned?  Unity is merging with a company who made a malware installer, by Jody Macgregor, 16 July 2022

43:48 Unreal Engine Field Guide, free download book

44:57 Updates to Nightmare Puppeteer, available on Steam

Nightmare Puppeteer