Dr. of Machinima

A blog By Dr. Nemesis following the progress of Binary Picture Show's work, as well as other Machinima.

Mar 19, 2008 at 3/19/2008 10:12:00 AM | 2 Comments
Last time we saw that a great way of populating films is to look at multiple sources. Sometimes a game has an adequate online community like in the case of The Sims 2, but of course there can be so much more. A long time ago now a site called Polycount, part of the Gamespy Network hosted custom models made for various FPS games (doesn't quite offer that same diversity today).

Programs like Milkshape 3D make it possible to bring models from different games together in one environment. I believe the reason most Machinima artists never do such things is because of the sometimes very stringent rules that the models must adhere to. There can be bad limits on the number of polygons (especially in older games), there maybe be a specific skeletal structure and naming system, complicated texturing systems, tags for separate parts of the models and then you'd almost always need to animate the model again from scratch... in short, it can be a nightmare.

But what I've always found to be worse is when I need a model, and I know I wont get it cause I just can't model. I'm no good at it, and it's really no time for me to start learning. As any kind of artist there should always be a limit to how many hats you wear anyway. When people new to Machinima often ask "What game is best for Machinima?", the answer is usually "depends on what kind of film you want to make", which is a good answer as theres not much sense in making a film about interstellar travel full of futuristic technology in a game like World Of Warcraft. However the plain fact of the matter is that some games have more Machinima friendly features than others.

So imagine being able to mix as many of the communities together as you wanted. Not via limited techniques like chroma key, but actually combining 3D assets. Using Sims 2 furniture to lavishly decorate a house in Half Life 2, or some futuristic weapons from Quake 3 going into the hands of a Sim. On the large scale it would offer an almost limitless supply of resources, provided they could be exported in 3D form. For characters, the possibilities are more limited, but for props, weapons, furniture, textures it can often be done with much less effort. As I said in part one this can become even more valuable when you move outside of the game engine as you may still be able to use resources for other games (and as nicely pointed out by Gtoon in a comment, there are already pipelines geared towards a similar way of thinking, like Reallusions 3DXchange tool). Provided you obtain permission from authors and have no intention to sell your film, it really does open up the possibilities.

As a very limited example of this, I have a short film made using models from the Freedom Force community. Freedom Force would be a great game for Superhero Machinima but finer control of the models can be difficult. So (with permission of the models authors) I have a bunch of Freedom Force custom-made models in Motionbuilder, and have recreated a page from a Marvel Civil War comic. Maybe I could have placed them all in a Sims 2 house. Now THAT would have been interesting. It was just a little piece for fun so in great Leo Lucien-Bay style, the sound is F'd up but the film is watchable.

I hope that we can really benefit from a larger amount of remixing for future projects. We have done it to small extents, but never really taken it very far. Imagine the possibilities. Of course there is a question of opposing styles, but considering the large amount of content available It can definitely be made to work. Digital Memory (a sci-fi film we hope to begin work on soon) will most definitely be made from the arms and legs of different bodies. Lets hope it works.

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posted by Dr. Nemesis