I thought about this when I posted Red vs. Blue
Machinima, originally machinema (/məˈʃiːnɪmə, -ˈʃɪn-/) is the use of real-time computer graphics engines to create a cinematic production. Most often, video games are used to generate the computer animation. The word “machinima” is a portmanteau of the words machine and cinema.
Machinima has advantages and disadvantages when compared to other styles of filmmaking. Its relative simplicity over traditional frame-based animation limits control and range of expression. Its real-time nature favors speed, cost saving, and flexibility over the higher quality of pre-rendered computer animation. Virtual acting is less expensive, dangerous, and physically restricted than live action. Machinima can be filmed by relying on in-game artificial intelligence (AI) or by controlling characters and cameras through digital puppetry. Scenes can be precisely scripted, and can be manipulated during post-production using video editing techniques. Editing, custom software, and creative cinematography may address technical limitations. Game companies have provided software for and have encouraged machinima, but the widespread use of digital assets from copyrighted games has resulted in complex, unresolved legal issues.
Comparison to film techniques
Machinima can be less expensive than other forms of filmmaking. Strange Company produced its feature-length machinima film BloodSpell for less than £10,000. Before using machinima, Burnie Burns and Matt Hullum of Rooster Teeth Productions spent US$9,000 to produce a live-action independent film. In contrast, the four Xbox game consoles used to make Red vs. Blue in 2005 cost $600. The low cost caused a product manager for Electronic Arts to compare machinima to the low-budget independent filmThe Blair Witch Project, without the need for cameras and actors. Because these are seen as low barriers to entry, machinima has been called a “democratization of filmmaking”. Berkeley weighs increased participation and a blurred line between producer and consumer against concerns that game copyrights limit commercialization and growth of machinima.
Character and camera control
Kelland, Morris, and Lloyd list four main methods of creating machinima. From simple to advanced, these are: relying on the game’s AI to control most actions, digital puppetry, recamming, and precise scripting of actions. Although simple to produce, AI-dependent results are unpredictable, thus complicating the realization of a preconceived film script. For example, when Rooster Teeth produced The Strangerhood using The Sims 2, a game that encourages the use of its AI, the group had to create multiple instances of each character to accommodate different moods. Individual instances were selected at different times to produce appropriate actions.
In digital puppetry, machinima creators become virtual actors. Each crew member controls a character in real-time, as in a multiplayer game. The director can use built-in camera controls, if available. Otherwise, video is captured from the perspectives of one or more puppeteers who serve as camera operators. Puppetry allows for improvisation and offers controls familiar to gamers, but requires more personnel than the other methods and is less precise than scripted recordings. However, some games, such as the Halo series, (except for Halo PC and Custom Edition, which allow AI and custom objects and characters), allow filming only through puppetry. According to Marino, other disadvantages are the possibility of disruption when filming in an open multi-user environment and the temptation for puppeteers to play the game in earnest, littering the set with blood and dead bodies. However, Chris Burke intentionally hosts This Spartan Life in these unpredictable conditions, which are fundamental to the show. Other works filmed using puppetry are the ILL Clan’s improvisational comedy series On the Campaign Trail with Larry & Lenny Lumberjack and Rooster Teeth Productions’ Red vs. Blue. In recamming, which builds on puppetry, actions are first recorded to a game engine’s demo file format, not directly as video frames. Without re-enacting scenes, artists can then manipulate the demo files to add cameras, tweak timing and lighting, and change the surroundings. This technique is limited to the few engines and software tools that support it.
A technique common in cut scenes of video games, scripting consists of giving precise directions to the game engine. A filmmaker can work alone this way, as J. Thaddeus “Mindcrime” Skubis did in creating the nearly four-hour The Seal of Nehahra (2000), the longest work of machinima at the time. However, perfecting scripts can be time-consuming. Unless what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editing is available, as in Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption, changes may need to be verified in additional runs, and non-linear editing may be difficult. In this respect, Kelland, Morris, and Lloyd compare scripting to stop-motion animation. Another disadvantage is that, depending on the game, scripting capabilities may be limited or unavailable. Matinee, a machinima software tool included with Unreal Tournament 2004, popularized scripting in machinima.
Limitations and solutions
When Diary of a Camper was created, no software tools existed to edit demo files into films. Rangers clan member Eric “ArchV” Fowler wrote his own programs to reposition the camera and to splice footage from the Quake demo file. Quake movie editing software later appeared, but the use of conventional non-linear video editing software is now common. For example, Phil South inserted single, completely white frames into his work No Licence to enhance the visual impact of explosions. In the post-production of Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Rooster Teeth Productions added letterboxing with Adobe Premiere Pro to hide the camera player’s head-up display.
Machinima creators have used different methods to handle limited character expression. The most typical ways that amateur-style machinima gets around limitations of expression include taking advantage of speech bubbles seen above players’ heads when speaking, relying on the visual matching between a character’s voice and appearance, and finding methods available within the game itself. Garry’s Mod and Source Filmmaker include the ability to manipulate characters and objects in real-time, though the former relies on community addons to take advantage of certain engine features, and the latter renders scenes using non-real-time effects. In the Halo video game series, helmets completely cover the characters’ faces. To prevent confusion, Rooster Teeth’s characters move slightly when speaking, a convention shared with anime. Some machinima creators use custom software. For example, Strange Company uses Take Over GL Face Skins to add more facial expressions to their characters filmed in BioWare’s 2002 role-playing video game Neverwinter Nights. Similarly, Atussa Simon used a “library of faces” for characters in The Battle of Xerxes. Some software, such as Epic Games’ Impersonator for Unreal Tournament 2004 and Valve‘s Faceposer for Source games, have been provided by the developer. Another solution is to blend in non-machinima elements, as nGame did by inserting painted characters with more expressive faces into its 1999 film Berlin Assassins. It may be possible to point the camera elsewhere or employ other creative cinematography or acting. For example, Tristan Pope combined creative character and camera positioning with video editing to suggest sexual actions in his controversial film Not Just Another Love Story.
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There are a lot of videos on YouTube made with games like Scum, DayZ and Rust.
Here is a pretty funny video, made with Scum:
Two moons have passed . . . the trials have begun!
Here is a “movie” made with DayZ:
I embark on an adventure filled with luck, trust, and action over multiple days to find our revenge. It proved to be much harder than expected…
I’m super pleased with how this video turned out, I hope you all enjoy!
Everything in this video except for the cinematic intro was unscripted and recorded live on Twitch.
Here is a video showing how a server can be found and used, with Rust:
In today’s video I tried to checkout servers that had 0 players on them in the MODDED tab in Rust… I have done this before with the video I Played on 0 Pop Rust Servers (they are wild)… but this time its MODDED! WOO