Getting Serious about Machinima

Although I have known about Machinima for several years, I never really gave it much attention. Machinima (pronounced ma-shin-e-ma) is a type of filmmaking using game engines. What does that mean? Well, individuals record their actions within a video game environment such as Doom or Quake or Halo and edit the 'footage' later to create a story.

My prejudice has always been that the engines used are often 1st person shooter games and I couldn't understand how you could have a very interesting story made from the prefab components.

Recently, however, I've come across several sites and projects that are pretty interesting. The classic, really, is Red vs. Blue. It is funny because the writers give the normally hyper-stoic warrior characters silly personalities. The disjunction is often funny but wears thin with multiple viewings.

Today, I've seen a lot of blogspace dedicated to This Spartan Life. This Spartan Life is a talkshow created in Halo.

Sounds ridiculous but don't think that. Give it a chance. The interview with Bob Stein is not only subtly funny but very thought provoking as well. The segment, to me, is a great exercise in making explicit the possibilities inherent in the medium.

I have to admit that seeing Red vs. Blue and other machinima films I have been completely consumed by the idea that game engines really are a spectacular if only nascent tool for storytelling. The physics, lighting, character movement, and, perhaps most importantly, often unlimited camera movement (a unique feature of games, if you think about it) are all preprogrammed allowing machinima directors a certain level of freedom.

I think we will continue to see a lot more convergence of filmmaking and gameplaying in the future. I am consumed by the desire to create an engine add-on for some of the new next gen game engines allowing for a more elevated level of cinematic production. Imagine directing your own Godfather flick....
gregory turner-rahman