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360° VR Filmmaking Masterclass

Phil Rice Blog April 10, 2021 Leave a reply

*Disclosure: This podcast and blog is listener/reader supported. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn us a small commission to help cover the costs of producing the show. Read full disclaimer here.

If you were intrigued by the conversation in Season 1 Episode 2 of our podcast, where we discussed the relatively uncharted territory of VR and 360 degree filmmaking, this may interest you.

Over at CreatorUp – a site focused on education on the art of storytelling – they have a course titled “360° VR Filmmaking Masterclass” taught by some remarkably experienced pros. They’re offering a free preview which lets you sample part of the first module of the training, and they’re running an early access special on the course at half its normal price. Right now the full course is available for $150, but at the end of April (2021) the price is set to go up to $299.

We tend to focus our attention here on free or low cost training opportunities, but I thought I’d mention this “premium” training simply because it’s highly specialized and is so related to a topic we recently discussed on the show. Plus, if you’re really serious about this kind of filmmaking, you’ve probably already made a substantial investment in equipment, or you plan to. So this kind of educational investment might make sense if that’s the case.

Check out their course page, which shows the full curriculum and schedule, tells you all about the instructors, and even has a trailer.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that CreatorUp has a substantial catalog of other filmmaking-related courses – many of which are priced under $20.

Backbone – Machinima for Mobile

Phil Rice Blog April 5, 2021 Leave a reply

*Disclosure: This podcast and blog is listener/reader supported. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn us a small commission to help cover the costs of producing the show. Read full disclaimer here.

In the Season 1 Episode 2 podcast, we discussed whether making machinima on smartphone or mobile devices was something practical or possible in 2021. While the overall conclusion was a bit of a “no,” Tracy Harwood was astute to point out that while the mobile platforms might not yet be ready to handle complete production of machinima, perhaps mobile could be useful for certain aspects of production. Sound recording for example. To some degree, music production. Working on scripts. That kind of thing.

And then there is creation of actual game video footage. For me, this seemed less attractive for one reason primarily – controls. Having experimented with Minecraft PE on an iPhone, I just found the on-screen controls difficult to master – and besides, who wants footage with on-screen controls visible anyway. So what would be the solution for this? Some sort of Xbox-like external controller, I suppose. But that introduces a whole other sort of fumbly-ness, fiddling with two separate pieces of equipment.

The Backbone outfits an iPhone with controls akin to Nintendo Switch.

A device called Backbone provides a brilliant solution to this control issue, fitting an iPhone with a rig that turns it into something comparable to a Nintendo Switch. The Backbone works with ANY game which supports controllers – 1,300+ games by my last count.

Footage capture button within easy reach.

Perhaps MORE interesting to machinima folks… with the Backbone, at a touch of a button, you can record footage at up to 1080p at 30fps with a 20mbps bitrate (the newer your iPhone, the better your result here, I would reckon). iOS 13 or higher is required, check their tech specs page for a list of iPhone models which are supported.

Footage editing software built in – with scrub!

The app which comes with a Backbone helps manage this recording feature – and even has editing software built-in!

Steam-like / Xbox-like in-game voice communication.

The app also helps connect with other players for multiplayer. And the Backbone has a jack to connect a headset – with or without a microphone.

The Backbone seems like an excellent solution to a lot of the challenges of recording machinima or gameplay footage on an iPhone.

Percy has nothing on this guy!

Tracy Harwood Blog March 29, 2021 Leave a reply

Released in November 2020, this viral short by Birchpunk is a lot of fun. Uses VFX to present a vision of how we might colonize Mars and the future of cyber-farming, so our beloved Percy (NASA’s Perseverence) has a way to go to catch up with the vibe… eat your heart out Mr Musk, the Russians have beaten you to it. “We have love…”! Enjoy. You can follow Birchpunk’s channel on YouTube

Machinima Titles on Sale

Phil Rice Blog March 7, 2021 Leave a reply

Shop the Best Ever Sale at Green Man Gaming

*Disclosure: This podcast and blog is listener/reader supported. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, may earn us a small commission to help cover the costs of producing the show. Read full disclaimer here.

Green Man Gaming has a great sale going on for the month of March 2021 which features some games which are favorites for machinima makers. Check out some of their offerings below, and snatch up a great game while supporting our podcast in the process.

Fallout 4 is a rich open world environment with a very active modding community and quite a few active machinima filmmakers. This Game of the Year Edition comes with a number of addons and bonuses. At just $30, it’s worth a look on their Fallout 4 GOTY Edition page.

Cities Skylines has always struck me (Phil) as loaded with machinima potential for establishing shots and detailed green screen backdrops. The aesthetic seems like it would fit well with The Sims 4. It’s less than $10 right now, check it out.

In some folks’ view, the reigning king of machinima platforms is none other than Grand Theft Auto V. Apart from the expected crime fiction, music videos, and stunt montages, we’ve seen directors use this game to make everything from nature documentaries to gorgeous time lapse scenes. The built-in sequencing and editing tools are best in class, and the modding community is enormous. There was a time in 2020 where it was being given away for free on some kind of special promo, but if you missed that, not to worry… you can pick it up from Green Man for a cool $12.74 in March.

I’ve never seen anyone make machinima with Bioshock, but it’s one of those games where the playing of it is a truly cinematic experience. The story is incredibly written and wonderfully told, and the visuals are compelling and beautiful. You can grab a complete trilogy of Bioshock games for $10.20 in March.

Speaking of cinematic gameplay, the Mass Effect trilogy took the world by storm and set the bar very high for 3D games thereafter. The entire trilogy is being “remastered” in this Legendary Edition to run on today’s much higher quality 3D hardware, and it’s going to be something to behold. This title isn’t on sale right now… it’s still a pre-release game. A good idea might be to visit Green Man Gaming and create a free account there so you can Wish List this title and see what happens as its release date gets closer. There’s a good possibility a sale price could emerge in the future.