Completely Machinima

S3 E63 Film Review: The Backrooms – Reunion (Feb 2023)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes February 2, 2023 Leave a reply

Starting Feb 2023 off with a meme, Tracy selects a machinima that has been released as part of a massively co-created story involving numerous creators since it kicked off in mid 2019, The Backrooms. This short is called The Backrooms – Reunion by @kanepixels, released 8 Dec 2022. Is this really machinima, yep it certainly is – but we’re all blown away with the realism of the actors’ performance in this, and of course, the whole Backrooms Creepypasta phenomenon is just something else to behold too. We give you a bit of the background, just in case you’ve not come across it in your travels across the internet.

YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes & Links

The Backrooms – Reunion by Kane Pixels, released 8 December 2022

The Backrooms (Found Footage), released 7 Jan 2022

History of the Backrooms in videos

The Backrooms creepypasta thread discussion

The Backrooms game on Steam

The Backrooms game website

Weird Fiction and recent revival of the movement, referred to as New Weird, on TVTropes website

Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation novel, that Ricky made reference to

Freud’s The Uncanny essay, notes by the Freud Museum

Contests Update: Jan 2023

Tracy Harwood Blog January 30, 2023 Leave a reply

This week’s #MondayMotivation gives you a selection of more projects to take a look at, these are from recent contests and challenges that have been taking place across different platforms.

Unreal Short Film Challenge: Australia & NZ

This is an annual contest that provides two weeks of training on Unreal, followed by eight weeks in which to create a film. We reviewed some of the films emanating from last year’s challenge and this contest resulted in some equally stunning films. Here’s the highlights reel –

But do check out the films too. Two we particularly loved are narrated, which is not a method we see used all that often in shorts these days. This one is Revolver and Heckler’s Black Wing –

and this one of a solo dancer is beautifully done, by Adam Walker Film, called vQsv –

This one mixed 3D and 2D, mentored by Spectre Studios, who’s 2020 Roborovski we shared a couple of months ago, is also very well done – Robo Ramen, by UTS Animal Logic Academy –

There are numerous other to check on Unreal’s channel too, link here.

KitBash3D: Mission to Minerva

Another time delimited contest, KitBash3D launched a free asset pack, its Mission to Minerva, and 40 days later, 32,000 entries from 174 countries answered the call to ‘create a new Galaxy’. Films were made using Blender and Unreal for the ‘in-motion’ category, and another category of concept artwork just required stills. What an astonishing feat to go through all those entries and select just a few winners! Here’s the sizzle reel –

In-motion winners compilation –

and here’s the winner, Secret Moon by Orencloud. This is stunning to say the least and we’ll be reviewing this as part of our February podcast film review too –

In the meantime, KitBash3D’s Mission to Minerva world kit is stil available as a free download, you can access it here.

Second Life Showcase

Not a contest as such, but we wanted to share a site that’s produced by a group of SL Video Creators, aimed at inspiring residents to create. Each month, they select the best films and share them on their website – check it out in the link here

SLVideoGroup website screencap

MacInnes Studios Dance Challenge

Following hot on the heels of the outcome of the Mood Scene challenge, John MacInnes launched a TikTok challenge to create an avatar dancer. TikTok is an interesting choice for video sharing for machinima, and its one we’ll be commenting on more over the coming weeks. This contest was won by a virtual Freddie Mercury, created by Jean Campos (feature image) –

Runners up were Pooky Amsterdam, Bruschi Bruschmann, Alex Sura and Sergey Vereschagin.

S3 E62 Film Review: So I tried to Take a Holiday… (Jan 2023)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes January 26, 2023 Leave a reply

This week, Damien selects a Star Wars short by @Bombastic , released 5 Nov 2022, made with LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga game. This is a totally zany edit of a let’s play improv performance, by a creator who clearly has every detail of the SW Canon nailed to his bucket and spade… if only you can keep up with the camera. But maybe we’re just a bunch of old fogies?

YouTube Version of this Episode

Show Notes & Links

So I Tried to Take a Holiday by Bombastic, released 5 Nov 2022 –

Projects Update (Jan 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog January 23, 2023 Leave a reply

This week, we have some more interesting project updates to share with you.


We were thrilled to hear that Sam Crane’s GTA Online version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been recognized, being shortlisted for an award for innovation at the The Stage Awards 2023 – we love that they spelled Auto incorrectly too (Audio)! Awards are announced on 30 January and hopefully Sam (aka Rustic Mascara) will keep us posted on his Twitter feed during the event. All the best, Sam! You can still find the performance on YouTube, link here –


Using Unreal Engine, this short is another example of how beautiful this toolset is. This short by The Blender Bender team (Thomas Thielemann and Alexander Korabelnikov), released 26 Sept 2022, was inspired by David Attenborough’s Our Planet series, and with an even more stark message than the original series –

Also using Unreal Engine, we were interested to see that Sava Zivkovic, who’s film Irradiation we reviewed back in October 2021, is working on a new project, this one called Beckoning. He’s also just been awarded an Epic Megagrant to support development of the project – well deserved for sure. Here’s the link to the trailer for the new project – must say, very much looking forward to seeing the finished work.

Not Unreal but seriously unreal, this is an ‘insane battle’ scene demonstrating the astonishing simulation capability of the Epic Battle Simulator 2 engine. This one, SPECIAL FORCES ARE LANDING ON THE ISLAND OCCUPIED BY SAURON, was released 5 November 2022, by the Battle Simulator Center team –

Virtual Production

A short film, called Goliath by DonBittersil (screencap is our featured image for this post), has showcased virtual production tools using Unreal Engine, having been shot at LA’s Orbital Virtual Studios. For those advancing from purely screen based production techniques, this is an interesting insight into scaled-up processes – check out the film and the ‘making of’ videos here –

You may remember we shared Jackson Wang’s beautifully choreographed music video called Cruel a few weeks back, well this is another one from his Magic Man album, using virtual production techniques. Its also a stunning example of his creative work and the usefulness of the VP process –

Avant Garde?

An interesting article appeared on MUBI’s website about a cutscene collective, called Total Refusal. This team of gamers do what machinima creators have done for 25+ years, that is, use the game for some other creative purpose. Its nice to see that MUBI is keeping up with the times of course, and they would certainly do well to follow our friends at the Milan Machinima Film Festival to keep up to date with this particular ‘Avant Garde’ scene format. In the meantime, this is an example of Total’s Refusal’s creative works, a trailer for Hardly Working (RDR2) –

S3 E61 Film Review: INTERLOPER: Half Life 2’s Greatest Unsolved Mystery (Jan 2023)

Tracy Harwood Podcast Episodes January 19, 2023 Leave a reply

This week, Phil has selected a couple of films by @Anomidae, INTERLOPER: Half Life 2’s Greatest Unsolved Mystery (released 25 Oct 2022) and Interloper 2 The Source Engine’s Deepening Mystery (released 20 Nov 2022). These are astonishingly well done conspiracy documentaries, examining the strange phenomenon of the periodic appearance of alien-like grafitti in a little explored area of Half Life 2. The documentaries are so well done that even after we discussed them at length, Phil remains unconvinced its a hoax! What do you think?

YouTube Version of This Episode

Show Notes and Links

INTERLOPER: Half Life 2’s Greatest Unsolved Mystery by Anomidae, released 25 October 2022

Interloper 2 The Source Engine’s Deepening Mystery, released 20 Nov 2022

Kardavshev’s theory, article in Science Focus

War of the Worlds radio play, ready by Orson Wells, reviewed in Smithsonian Magazine online here and recording link below to the complete broadcast –