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Monday, March 20, 2006

Machinima by Pablo


Machinima a mix of word texts, cinema and animation, is a flourishing art form where videogame players use characters, scenarios and tools within games to create animated short movies. It’s a way of producing animation in real-time that is exceedingly flexible and cost-effective, and gives the audience a chance to collaborate actively in the creation of content with more possibilities than limitations. Machinima is possibly the easier and cheapest way of creating an animated film.


Machinima is filmmaking within real time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video game technologies. In an expanded definition, it is the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development. Machinima is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence.
By combining the techniques of filmmaking, animation production and the technology of real-time 3D game engines, Machinima makes for a very cost- and time-efficient way to produce films, with a large amount of creative control.

Creating Machinima.

There are basically two ways of producing Machinima. One is that can be driven by script, where everything related to filmmaking as cameras, SFX, characters are scripted for playback in real-time. In this case the scripting is driven by the events, instead of keyframes.

The other way of producing Machinima is that can be recorded in real-time within the virtual environment. The majority of game-specific Machinima pieces are produced in this fashion.


Because Machinima can be shot live in real-time, it is way faster to create that normal CGI animation. For the animation director would be easier, as he wouldn’t have to rely on key frames. Many takes can be made in real-time or just a few depending on the director’s style.

As well instead of rendering frames of animation or video streams, Machinima can be recorded at data level. That means it can be edited at data level, where you can add characters, adjust camera angels and create camera shots, fine-tune the animation. It’s very like doing extra shots without the need of the entire crew.

Machinima gives you:

• the real-time recording of human/scripted performances and events
• the creative flexibility of artistic assets moved over time – akin to animation; allows total control over visual representation of characters, events
• an interactive environment
• Hardware driven playback is resolution independent

Also shooting with Machinima can reduce costs of production. And is a radical departure from the traditional key frame animation process. Animation directors can direct puppeteers as they manipulate the character models in real-time. An action director can relate what happens in real time. It reduces cost by eliminating the time intensive process of software rendering.


• Limited capability. because game engines were primarily designed for game-playing, not for making movies, the movie-making capabilities of game engines (and, consequently, the quality of the produced movies) tend to be limited, when compared to 3D animation software used by professionals
• High playback hardware requirements. Unless the entire rendered movie is distributed, in order to play a movie ,the viewer needs the same rendering engine as the one used by the producer, and a computer with capable hardware (to run the movie scripts to view the movie), depending on the complexity of the rendering engine (the game, that is) and movie.

Machinima will eventually become yet one more way to produce visually-based stories.

As Machinima matures, so will its market, its audience, and the tools that define it. However, it's the filmmakers that will ultimately determine its course. Based on the works that have been produced in the last few years (comedies, dramas, music videos, even documentaries), I would say that Machinima is well on the way to becoming its own form of creative expression.

Examples of Machinima.

No License (Short Fuze): A great short made with Battlefield 1942, No License focuses on a well-known international agent. Using pages ripped out of “how to create a great action film”, this team exploits machinima to its fullest, using the characters and environment as if they were shooting a live-action film.

The Journey (Friedrich Kirschner) – Falling into the “art house” machinima category is The Journey, a remarkable machinima film focusing on a lone figure who chooses a different path in life in order to find himself. Friedrich has made a unique machinima piece that looks very unlike the 3D game engine it was created with, Unreal Tournament 2004.

Game On (Game On): This recently-produced machinima short is the first to incorporate machinima with live-action film. Shot entirely in HD, this blend of live-action and machinima tells the tale of Larry, an architect who finds himself in the mix of a video game he has been obsessively playing.


Ideas Factory Scotland.

The Machinima FAQ Page.

Wikipedia Encyclopedia

O’Reilly Digital Media

G4 Feature. The Wonderful World of Machinima.


  • Check out the Machinima Film Festival coming up at ACMI from March 20 - May 21.
    Also, Red Vs Blue is screening at ACMI cinemas on Aug 22 followed by Q&A with 2 of its creators from Rooster Teeth Productions. Worth a look see.


    By Blogger claire, at 5:47 pm  

  • Good research, clearly and succinctly written -- but you're not really telling us anything about machinima that we couldn't have found out reading the wikipedia entry. It would have been great to get a sense of what YOU think about it -- whether you can see creative or entertainment possibilities, for eg, that aren't available or are different from other production or genre forms. Or to look at one of your examples more closely, giving us some personal or critical insight into it.

    By Blogger Administration, at 12:26 pm  

  • This is an interesting and alternative form of filmmaking. My personal experience of machinima has not gone further than the replays u can tinker with off games like DRIVER, where in the replay u're able to choose a soundtrack and position the camera for each shot – tilt, pan and zoom according to ur remote-controlled directions – before then playing back the finished result. This was fun, i spent hours working it. I'm assuming this would be a lesser level/form of actual machinima (?)

    By Blogger Callum, at 5:28 pm  

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