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 –
We’ve seen a number of tech developments in recent weeks that we’ll share in this post. Everything from free tools, great content packs, wrinkles for those of a certain age of course, mocap for newbies, nuisance scores, heads up on a lightweight headset, and more!
Lights, Camera, Action
A member of Chantal Harvey’s popular Machinima Mondays‘ Facebook Group posted a video recommendation by Kevin Stratvert of five free screen recording tools that all machinima and virtual production folks should have in their applications folder. He usefully goes through the process of using each of them in his tutorial here –
We highlight just a few of the exciting things we’ve seen in the last few weeks for Unreal Engine. A show and tell tutorial on making ragdoll puppets, reported in 80.lv, featuring 3D artist and animator Peter Javidpour, gives a great breakdown of the process, including how to rig the virtual camera. The process using Blueprints was used in his recent short release, My Breakfast with Barf, link here –
Also using Blueprints, Machina-Infinitum.com released a content pack for making procedural fractals. They look really beautiful – and perfect for that next cyberpunk-cum-inceptionist film. The pack isn’t free at $99, but it looks like a good investment, available on the Unreal store here. Here’s a link to their YouTube channel and tutorials for using the assets –
And also not free (£170.70), another excellent content pack. This one contains realistic building assets from what looks like the Whitechapel area of London, called a British City Pack, by Polyspherestudio.com. Here’s an overview on their YouTube channel –
Reallusion released a much awaited update to its Character Creator, introducing a dynamic wrinkle system. The plasticity of facial animations using CC4 is something we’ve often found ourselves commenting on in our film reviews, and this is a very interesting development. Check out the overview here –
Plask’s mocap app has been upgraded. This is an app we’ve mentioned before, which allows you to record, edit and animate projects in your browser. For pros, there’s a monthly fee, but for newbies, its freemium model looks like a great way to get started in mocap. Here’s an overview of it from their YouTube channel, which also contains tutorials of how to integrate the content with platforms like Blender, Unreal Engine and others –
With interoperability at its heart, ReadyPlayerMe is going from strength to strength. Its recent blog post sets out its ambition, and this highlights what great potential its avatars have to be cross-platform virtual storytellers, although as yet we’ve not seen much of that emerging.
For sound design tips, you can do no better than take a look at REAPER. Anne-Sophie Mongeau has written a great two-part article on Asoundeffect.com, which is definitely worth checking out, and whilst you’re there, you can check out the massive curated collection of sound effects on the website too.
For those exploring immersive experiences, we found another great article on Asoundeffect.com, this one discussed the impact of ‘nuisance scores‘ on the listener – we certainly have some experience of that in films we see too.
And for those seeking an alternative to the wearying headsets for virtual reality immersive experiences, Bigscreenvr.com‘s new system looks very impressive. Its just 127 grams and with a great resolution – most headsets weigh in around 450-650 grams, which is roughly a bag of sugar for those home chefs in the know – so surely will be much more usable than the current techs. It just released an overview of the new set and shipping begins in Q3 2023, and I’m more than tempted to get my order in early on this one…
Finally this week, the Second Life endowment for the arts process is changing. For years, Second Life has been a massive advocate for its community of content creators, and the changes which give creators more time to develop their builds is another example of its fantastic support (notwithstanding the truly err colourful gif on its announcement page, our feature image this week). Here’s a link to its grant page.
In this episode, Damien, Ricky and Tracy discuss the release of Reallusion’s iClone 8 and Character Creator 4, the use of OpenAI for generating machinima scripts, legalese and Star Citizen’s users rules update, latest contests and challenges for machinima creators, technical notes and project updates, including Pooky Amsterdam’s announcement of her latest project, the world’s first Metaverse musical
YouTube Version of this Episode
Show Notes and Links
0:35 Feedback from our listeners, thanks Ben Tuttle, 3DChick, Mike Clements, CD and Pooky Amsterdam
38:40 2nd Annual Film Festival for Fantasy Faire in Second Life, organized by Saffia Widdeshins and Chantal Harvey. Congratulations to winners – links are HERE and Pryda Parx epic fly through the Fantasy Faire sim is HERE
41:19 Especially for Ricky: Elden Ring’s new VR mod by Luke Ross (Patreon channel)
This month, Ricky, Phil, Tracy and Damien discuss machinima and real-time productions made in Second Life including documentaries illustrating life on the ‘grid’, events and experiences such as an art collector’s paradise, a potted history of the environment, a sci-fi convention, extraordinary examples of films that show the unique qualities of the Second Life creative community, a tutorial and a new cyberpunk drama series. The co-hosts also discuss their perspectives on the importance of Second Life as a creative platform for machinima.
For our classics theme episode of machinima, Tracy spoke to Sarah Higley about her Second Life-based machinima work that draws inspiration from old and middle English texts written as early at the 10th Century. Whilst they didn’t get around to discussing this on the recording, Sarah is also well known for having written the script for Star Trek: Next Generation’s episode 21 (Season 3) ‘Hollow Pursuits’, which aired in April 1990 (under the pen name of Sally Caves). Sarah is particularly noted for the character, ensign Reginald Barclay (portrayed by Dwight Schultz) who uses the Holodeck to imagine how his life should be. Sarah recalled to Tracy this was her first imaginings of her experiences of Second Life, evidenced through her creative machinima works discussed in this interview.