Monday, January 26, 2015

The Art of Simplifying

Sometimes a project can seem overwhelming.

Will it make if from paper -- or your imagination -- onto the screen?  

You know what you want to say. You may have a shot list. You may even have a storyboard -- and then you hit a wall.

Too much. Too hard. Close to impossible.

It doesn't have to be.

Remember, most machinima is short. I personally am on record with the UWA 4:30 minute length as one I aim for as a max. There are exceptions but often what needs to be said, heard and shown is repeated a few too many times in longer length films.

A couple of real life examples come to mind (well of course they do).

There was a popular best selling book about the differences between men and women. It was a small book. Even so, it easily could have made its point in a mid length magazine article. We call that extra stuff "filler".  Filler ain't good in my book.

There was a movie about horses that took place in one of the northern states of the US. Wyoming? North Dakota? I don't really remember. There were a good thirty minutes of beautiful country mountain shots adding to the already lengthy movie.

Sometimes you just need to let some footage fall to the floor -- or in modern days, into your recycle bin. If you can take a hard and honest look at your shooting plan and decide what you don't need BEFORE shooting; well, that's the best plan in my book.

Along side of getting rid of the fluff that your theme doesn't need, there are ways to make your life easier and more enjoyable. And if done correctly, your audience will likely never notice.

One option is to make your cutaway shots stills. They are typically of short duration, need no actor and can be manipulated for effects within your graphics or video editing software. Just take a photo the same size or larger as the screen size of your video display window.

Sometimes the only location you have is less than "modern" in that mesh and materials look of 2015. Still, it may be the only one available and in essence it CAN portray the mood and location your are looking for. 

Now is the time to be thankful you took the time to learn how to manipulate your virtual environment with Windlight.  Oh no! You cut class that day and went to the mall (beach, movies etc.) ?  Don't worry, there is a HUGE selection of Windlight settings in most third party viewers. They cover many needs and cycling though the long list of options can get you thinking in new directions. While there is no replacement for understanding how Windlight works, with the help of your virtual "friends" -- you can fake it.

So in case you near that depressing "it's all too much" place in the future -- remember, simplifying is often the answer.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Topping 1000

Can You Hear the Silence -  2013

I seldom (well maybe never) post my videos on this blog. I mean, really, you are all adults and if you want to see them you can find them easily enough.

But today cleaning up my YouTube back end I noted that I had a video that had made it over 1000 views.  I am not a mainstream videographer by any means and so my public is of the niche variety and that is OK with me.

I watched this film again and was pleased. So I choose to share it and the lovely work by the many SL artists that made it possible.

Watch on YouTube >>

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Making Your Own Characters

Many machinimatographers play all roles in a film, and that includes actors. If getting together and managing a cast isn't on the top of your personal fun list -- here's a little story.

I have been a busy gal over on the frontier of OpenSim, and "no" this is not a bid to lure you away from the beauties of SL (but hopefully I will have a video soon that might have you rethinking that "OpenSim has no art" rumor). That's another day and another story.

This is about NPCs. Maybe we should simply call them clones because that is what they really are.

Get yourself duded up (and yes, if we are talking a male character that means "duded" in the real sense of the word). Rez a sphere, add a script and the animation(s) you want to use and click. You have an instant character with very little lag who can be a non-speaking actor in your own personal play.

No more worrying if your computer can handle an extra avatar or two. Simply plop your clones out  (on your own sim in most cases of OpenSim or ones where you have rights) and click. Some are designed to go away when visitors are a certain distance away; some stay put; some act as greeters and hand out notecards.

There are some caveats of course, no scripts in your outfit (pretty easy in OS, not so easy in SL but the rules may be different there), don't delete the pose ball without first turning your character off, etc. I took a class and was happy that I did.

I am populating my OpenSim city with some pretty interesting characters, and yes, it IS a challenge because I can't just dig into my expansive inventory or do a little shopping at my favorite venues to find costumes. I am making the animations myself and of course some of the props.

And, to be fair, until you feel secure with your cloned actors, it can be a little scary. Once you understand the options in the script (not terribly hard as I can do it and scripting is definitely not my strong suit) it is mostly the animations and getting the look together.


I haven't researched this for Second Life, but I know we have bots and "models" and such so I am guessing the technology has been available for a long time. Maybe some of you have even used this method. But to me, it was a revolution in thinking.

Sometimes you need to leave the comfort of home to learn new things.