Wednesday, September 5, 2007

SL Machinima will save YouTube

Reuters/Second Life � HBO buys machinima film created in Second Life: "“You can build visually rich dense environments in an incredibly short amount of time, and you can work collaboratively using the tools of Second Life,” said Gayeton, who currently works for the virtual world development agency Millions of Us. “It gives you an idea of how animation will look five years from now.”"

Think of all those sub-par videos on YouTube that could have been more effective, artistic, or powerful with a budget. Making machinima in SL is like making movies with an endless budget. If you can dream it, you can visualize it in Second Life. Granted it will take some time, effort, and know how.

I would like to differentiate from the statement above however... SL does not produce high quality animation. It is shaping how animation will look five years from now not on cinematic or graphical quality... but based on the fact that it comes to the masses in the age of socially motivated peer production; a time when a younger generation of content creators is willing to produce for little or no financial gain, to experiment and take risks with limited resources or expertise at their disposal, and unafraid of critical peer review.

Animation, like film, is a highly refined art form with masters of its craft held in the highest regard. So how will a new generation of "tinkerers" affect it? I must admit... I am one of the tinkerers. I recently created a machinima video to promote the sale of my graphic novel.

I could not afford studio time on an infinity wall to shoot this properly in real life. However, with machinima... it took only 3 hours to make that video. And that includes building the drawing table.

Next week in Ann Arbor Michigan my newest video, "Machinima Paradiso", opens at The Project Gallery in a show titled, "My Private Utopia" (more info at the site). This machinima video is almost 5 minutes in length and includes scenes over large bodies of water, flying through a movie theatre, and down a NYC Times Square like corridor of giant images. If created in real life, I am approximating the budget to be well over $750,000. However, I have been able to put it together on my laptop in little over three months.

Is machinima a new form of storyboarding? Will it produce a new farm-team-crop of filmmakers and animators? Will access to this media in both SL and through outlets like YouTube reshape our idea of what can be produced "on a budget?"

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