Projects Update 2 (August 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog August 28, 2023 Leave a reply

What do AI, 48 hours and Second Life have in common? Not a lot, beyond some stunningly creative pieces that we found for you this week!

AI films are now beginning to come through and we have two very interesting ones for you to take a look at. The first is created/prompted by Matt Mayle (our feature image for this post) and has been made using Elevenlabs (voice), Runwayml’s GEN2 (animation) and ChatGPT4 (text concept) and is described an ‘AI assisted short’, called The Mass (released 26 April) –

The second is called The Frost, by Waymark Creative Labs (released 5 June). This has a distinct aesthetic to it, encapsulates a curious message, and overall reflects the state of AI animation at this stage, but its nonetheless a gripping piece. Its been created with DALLE-2 and D-ID –

Our next pick was made in 48 hours (well, with a bit of tweaking on top) and has been made in Unreal Engine, called Dude Where’s My Ship by Megasteakman. To be frank, the speed of its creation does show in the final quality of film, but its nonetheless an interesting development, especially given that I was a regular judge on the 48 Hour Filmmaking Contest a few years ago. The machinima version of that contest was managed and supported by Chantal Harvey for several years and its astonishing to think that this is the next generation of that process –

Finally, this week, a film made in Second Life, which lends itself to flash production, based on content from a plethera of creators on whom its content relies. The film is called The Doll Maker (released 27 May) and has been made by FeorieFrimon using various models and Paragon Dance Animations movements to a Beats Antique music composition called Flip –

Projects Update 1 (August 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog August 21, 2023 Leave a reply

This week, we share a selection of Blender projects we’ve seen about dragons, myths, dreams and soup making!

We start with a fascinating concept piece called Wayward Gods, featuring a mechanical worm/dragon-like creature tamed by an electric guitar and a character called Tetsugun, by Create! Nate! Create! (released 24 February) – the color contrast and the themes are spectacular –

A mythical tale from another dimension, Crest (released 30 May) by Zertox, also explores the relationship between humans and beasts, this time a strange flying dragon –

A film by nobodycaresaboutyou called Limits of Perception (released 11 May) is a magical take on a stream of consciousness shared with us as we watch. A grainy patina is applied to the images to create the sensation of daydreaming through this piece –

Finally, a film that was nominated for the 2023 FIN Kids Youth Film Competition and Best Director at the Barcelona Indie Filmmakers Fest. It was also a finalist at the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival. The film is called The Soup (our feature image for this post), by John Torres3D, and focusses on the farming life of a robot waiting for vegetables to grow so it can make soup –

Update (August 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog August 14, 2023 Leave a reply

This week’s update is all about the virtual production pipeline and digital cultural history.

VP Pipeline

DaVinci Resolve 18.5 (and .1 fixes) has finally released, and Blackmagic Design have a comprehensive support centre you can make use of here (only for the pro version license holders). The version includes a bunch of new features for integrating AI genie content and collaboration. Here’s an overview, courtesty of MrAlexTech –

Unreal Engine has an ever-expanding and truly talented community. In this tut, Jonathan Winbush (our feature image this week) shares his approach to creating procedurally generated towns using PCG and blueprints inside UE and Cargo (Kitbash3D). Winbush has a wealth of material on his channel, all free, for anyone to pick up and work with, so there’s really no excuse not to learn Unreal Engine –

Boundless Entertainment has release a course for filmmaking, pre-viz and VFX. Its designed for taking beginners to more professional levels in 10 days… mmm, lets see! Its not free, like many of the YouTube tutorials, but for $180 it will undoubtedly suit some learning styles.

Finally, if you want to share your VP process and also learn from others, Nvidia has a new #StartToFinish challenge running til the end of August. Its focussed on those working with the Omniverse platform, with a chance to be showcased on their social media channels. You can find out more about it on their Discord server.

Digital Culture History

We were interested to see a post on the BBC’s website that reported on NoClip’s Danny O’Dwyer rescue of hundreds of hours worth video content of gaming history from landfill. The collection mostly pre-dates YouTube, and comprises of footage and media clips that were cut from being shown on TV or websites. You can see Danny talk about his gold strike here –

We look forward to seeing what Danny digs up as he goes through the material over the next 10 years or so.

Back to the Future, that classic 1980s trilogy we all love for a whole range of reasons, is BACK again. This time, its as a Musical at the Alephi Theatre in London’s West End and the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway, and in 2024, a North American tour. Its also fascinating to hear the rejection story of Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis’ original film script – rejected over 40 times before finally being signed. There are certainly many lessons in here for creatives today, not least the process of adapting film FX to theatre, for which MoveAI/Disguise for mocap and virtual production techniques are being employed –

A first in the UK, with a 5G screen test for a dual-location virtual production method for real-time performance capture –

Projects Update 2 (July 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog July 31, 2023 Leave a reply

Our final post this month takes a look at more projects made in Unreal Engine. Once again, we are blown away by the incredible diversity of creative work made with this engine and the power it unleases among its ever growing community of users. It is not always cheap to do, but it can sometimes be free! Check these out.

Scaled Up

Planet Earth as an 80K digital recreation, designed for ‘orbital scenes and cinematic scenes of Earth, this model is available as a download in the Unreal Marketplace. It took creator Tuomas Hakala (aka MegaMammoth) two years to create and boy does it show. Its not a cheap asset to buy at £550+, but if this is something you want to include in high fidelity work, its surely worth it –

Leo Torres has re-created and upscaled vision of his beloved Skyrim Whiterun world. He has made some assumptions about what the world might scale to, stating that although its hard to tell just how big the population of the game might be, he is pretty sure it will exceed what was seen in the game! He’s used experience and fan facts to produce something that is ‘lore-scale’ – wonderful, even if its not playable –


Another Unreal short is DISTANCE by Machina Infinitum, a 3D fractal short made using a plugin the creator has built for UE5 called Essence. Their intention for using the tool is create realtime renders, typically for VR. Its on the Marketplace here at a very reasonable $40, and check out the video, released 17 Oct 2022, here –


We’ve been talking about no/low cost movie making since (1996 actually) so its great to see that mantra being picked up by others. In this case, Taiyaki Studios have made a short demo, called Airship DJ, in UE5 and another on how they made it. Check out the films here –

Film, released 21 July 2022 –

Explainer featuring Cory Williams, released 21 July 2022, here –

Projects Update – Not [ALL] Machinima (July 2023)

Tracy Harwood Blog July 24, 2023 Leave a reply

Our review of inspirational projects often includes work which is NOT machinima, and this week we have picked out a couple that we’re sure our followers will enjoy too… of course, interspersed with examples of great machinima projects. Not least, this includes the podcast’s Damien’s (aka Darth Angelus) Star Wars fan series, a stalwart of the Second Life machinima creator community, Tutsy NAvArAthnA, whom Tracy interviewed a couple of years back here, and the only stereoscopic machinima we’ve actually seen!

The Classics: from Star Trek to Star Wars

Firstly, a parody of the original Star Trek series, this is the latest episode of Mark Largent’s long-running Stalled Trek project. The ep is called The City of the Edge of Foreclosure (released on YT on 25 April). It is based on Harlan Ellison’s epic episode called The City on the Edge of Forever, which originally aired in 1969 should you want to look it up on IMdB. As Largent says in those importal words ‘You cannot have your fate, and Edith too’!

Damien’s Star Wars series, Heir to the Empire, is featured on SFW Magazine’s website here. The article explains Damien’s process for animating the original novel by Timothy Zahn. You can watch the whole series on his channel, or the latest episode here –

and plus, given the recent pap interest in Damien, we can confirm that he is NOT married, or at least, he’s never declared that status to us!

Stop Mo

This is a great fun short stop-mo by Winga (released 4 May). Yes its an ad for an AI-using mobile phone image tracking stabilizer called Insta360, but definitely worth a view. The back end of the vid is an explainer of the kit and how Winga shot the film, also worth a view –

The REAL Metaverse

In this short, Mon Metaverse (released 16 Jan 2022), well-known Second Life creator and documentarian Tutsy NAvArAthna, discusses his observations on the metaverse, the promise of Second Life and the sinister ways in which some are turning the ‘digital screw’ by orchestrating our online experiences. The film features the creative work on dozens of creators (see the film credits for details). There’s an advisory warning with this but, then again, that’s the point being made (its also our featured image for this post). With Second Life having recently celebrated its 20th year, its timely to share the work too –

Double Vision?

I knew if we waited awhile someone would share a stereoscopic machinima with us… if you recall, Tracy highlighted there were very few (if any) that had been made, a point arising from the panel discussion at the Oberhausen International Film Festival earlier this year (reported here). Well, here you go. This short has been made by the uber-talented Second Life creator Ataro Asbrink. It is called Mandala Moods 3D and is a hypnotising example of what’s possible. You will need anaglyph glasses to appreciate it of course –