Escape from City 17, The next big step for Machinima

This is something I should have posted about a long time ago, being not only an awesome short in its own right, but a big step forward for independent film-making with machinima.

For those who don’t know, machinima is the method of film-making where you make movies by manipulating video games.  The easy way is to just play the game and film it, generally done with multiplayer games like Halo. (I.E. the massively popular Red vs. Blue series)  Each player is a different character, with one acting as the ‘camera,’ with all audio (usually) added in post-production.  The harder way (with the benefits of much greater freedom) is to use a game’s toolset to make the movie in much the way in-game cut-scenes are done.  There are no human actors, as such, meaning all the character models are controlled by the computer, as well as any effects and camera movement.  The main advantages of machinima are that it is vastly less time-consuming than traditional animation, but shares its freedom from the laws of reality.  This is especially true for fight scenes, one of the things practically all games do well.  There are other limitations of course, especially in physical interaction between the models, fewer options when it comes to animations, and so forth, but there are ways around it just as there are ways around a scene unfilmable in real life. (For example, all the fan made films of people getting limbs cut off with a lightsaber)  Machinima is so useful that universities (particularly the one I attend) have classes on making machinima as a kind-of introduction to film making and the possibilities of computer technology.  The class (so far, I have heard they are changing games this spring) uses Half-Life 2 as its platform, due to the ease of use, (relative to the rest of course, the tools are still aggravating half of the time) and the fact that it looks fairly good while not requiring high-end systems to run. (Which is why Crysis was rejected)  The class is especially interesting as it is open to film students, computer science students, even English majors. (Which is how I took the class, ostensibly to work more on the script side, though I ended up leading a team and specializing in lip-synching and facial animation.)

Anyway I digress.  Escape from City 17 is the next step in machinima film-making, in that it isn’t straight machinima.  The film-makers have life-action actors and settings for as much as they can, using machinima elements of Half-Life 2 for the special effects and a lot of the sound work.  Now they don’t leave the effects alone, having used some other processes to enhance the look of the stuff, but the fact remains they made this short on a budget of 500$ Canadian. (Remembering of course that the time they put into it was free as this is an independent project)  The short itself is set in the Half-Life universe, near the climatic events of Half-Life 2 as the city nears complete destruction.  Enjoy.

Oh, and if you go to the YouTube page for it, ignore any related videos purporting to be part 2.  It isn’t ready yet.  It’s just a Rick Roll.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1UPMEmCqZo%5D

[tags]Half Life, Machinima, Purchase Brothers, Valve, independent film, video games[/tags]

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