This week, we highlight more creative talent than we can ever hope to include in our weekly film review discussions.
Interloper Ep 4 LIVE
You may recall we reviewed the Interloper series a couple of months ago, convincing Phil that this was ‘for real’! Well, maybe it is, as in this episode, which was streamed live on 22 March in a very interesting approach to storytelling on a ‘grand scale’, Anomidae continues the saga. We certainly concur with comments on the video that suggest this transcends into the paranormal. I’m sure it will enthrall just as much as the first episodes did –
Hired Steel Ep 3
The Hired Steel team are producing some outstanding work, and this is another episode from the TMC team that we first reviewed back in July last year, released on 10 Feb. These guys are going from strength to strength and what’s really great viewing is the way that character empathy is built through the storytelling. Nice work, do check it out –
Little Nightmares Rap Song
JT Music (formerly JT Machinima) released a video to ‘Hungry for Another One’ in SFM, working with Harry101UK, released on 21 Jan. This is a real treat both aurally and visually. These guys are top of the pops for machinima music vids. Enjoy –
Death Train [S2FM]
A great short by Vladislav Zharkov released on 27 May last year, this is actually a scaled back version of a project for which the creator originally had a much bigger vision. Its a great concept and one we would definitely encourage the creator to continue to develop. In the meantime, he’s focussing on the music –
SL The Tragedy
Finally this week, we present a wild west story not from the world of Red Dead Redemption but from Second Life. In this film/music video set to Lady Gaga’s 911, Godiva SL has created a fun and fast-paced story, released on 24 Jan (its also the feature image for this blog post). Its well edited, the horse and hounds even gallop to the beat of the music, and takes you on a real journey –
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.
This week’s #MondayMotivation post has some more great examples of machinima and virtual production projects. We have a selection of shorts made using Unreal Engine and another entirely made in Blender, plus a couple of ‘making ofs…’ and a ‘role of…’ also worth checking out.
An artist we’ve talked about before who has created extensive work over many years in Second Life is Bryn Oh, and now she has created a nostalgic experience called Lobby Cam which is available on Steam, made using UE5. The experience is a walking tour of an extensive environment and a story told through the pages of a ripped up diary. The project has been reviewed by James Wagner Au on his blog, New World Notes here. It is described as part of a larger narrative, and here’s a video sampler of the tour produced as part of that too… an interesting approach to virtual storytelling –
Off planet, another project which contains amazing detail of other worlds is by Melody Sheep, called The Sights of Space: A Voyage to Spectacular Alien Worlds (released 29 Nov 2022). This a 30 minutes-long film of speculative depictions of space scenes based on ‘current scientific understanding’ of the Milky Way, albeit with extensive creative license. If you ever wanted to get into a new type of documentary, this is probably the one to have on your watchlist –
We were also thrilled to see what promises to be a very interesting new series launching later this year by Melody Sheep, called The Human Future, check out the trailer on the channel here.
In our next project pick, called JOYCE by GTshortStories (released 14 Dec 2022), UE5 and every available tool with it has been used to create an interesting space story. This mixes live action with some well done animation, and the integration is done really well, so its a great example to check out. Joyce is a backchatting robot exploring a facility along with Sargeant Terry Brown – there are many references to popular sci-fi tropes, so do check this one out! GTshortStories is also putting out other creative content, so check out the channel too.
Our final space project for this week is Countdown, by Andrew Klimov on the CGChannel. This is a fast paced story of a crash landing onto an alien planet, all about the crash itself, and it certainly makes you feel it. The crash is the beginning of a new series and you can find out more about that on his website here. There’s also an interesting breakdown of the filmmaking process on his Vimeo channel here.
Our next project pick goes back to the 11th Century, inspired by an Umbrian folk tale in the novel ‘E poi si fece buio’ by Matteo Bebi. It is about a dream by Imiltrude who lived in a hidden village and was sentenced to death for having caused a fire that destroyed a city. The film HIMIL is by Tiziano Fioriti and Andrea Brunetti, made using UE5 and is a fascinating first person perspective with a very well done soundscape –
Our next project pick is a Blender-made movie and another example of great storytelling, this time in a cyberpunk environment with a really nice twist in the tale. Not sure it would be Ricky’s cup of tea, to his point about emotional representation, but I certainly loved it! The story has been created by the Blender HQ team, so its by no means an indie endeavour with a team of folks behind the processes employed but definitely worth watching – check out the pace of the action and sound design in particular. The film is called Charge – Blender Open Movie (released 15 Dec 2022) and you can access the production files and making of videos for the film here.
We always love a good homage to Star Wars, and this week we have a feature from the Reallusion Magazine, which describes how iClone and the Vicon mocap system have been used to recreate that iconic ‘I am your father’ scene from the Empire Strikes Back episode. The short has been made by Luis Cepeda from Quitasueño Studios, based in the Dominican Republic, and he provides a great step-by-step guide to how the short was made with a video overview here –
Ever wondered how to use a midi controller with UE5 that lets you use the controller for all sorts of effects in real-time just with the keyboard? Well, here’s a fantastic video tutorial for you by Taiyaki Studios featuring Cory Williams –
And finally this week, we share Loralee Sundra’s video on the Internet Archive about the value of public domain films from her perspective as a Frontline Fellow at the Documentary Film Legal Clinic at UCLA School of Law. Her talk was part of the Internet Archive’s Public Domain Day 2023 celebration, held on 25 Jan 2023.
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
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.