27 Nov 2012

The Future of Mainstream Machinima Films

Mainstream Machinima is a great pair of words, and one that has legs.

The Machinima-Expo 2012 has ended and the interest in this medium continues to grow. Bringing people together from their fields of games, media and journalism on the topic, reveals greater depth not only of coverage but true understand the nature of what we can offer with our game engine films.  The great takaway of a true "Indie movement" is not lost on this audience, and Dean Takahashi wrote a great review of his panel which appeared in VentureBeat.

The future of mainstream machinima films: A panel discussion inside Second Life

You should have a read of his article, and (a look at his avatar of course!) as this expert panel analyzes machinima and offers great words on topics of the future of what we are doing.  He also includes links back to the films and the programming.  Enjoy!

Its a virtual and very animated group here!

KeyNote Speech at SLACTIONS 2012

This year was the first for SLACTIONS devoting a full program to Machinima. This great cultural organization is one that promotes education and understanding of virtual platforms. Pooky was asked to deliver the Keynote address and below is the text from this event.

 Keynote


This week I clicked on a link, something I do quite often and for a large variety of reasons. To see a film I need to judge for a festival such as this, to read an article or look at a blog, to see how many views something I have produced has gotten, to laugh, to be moved. We click, we look, and we lean into the screen to see what is appearing, unfolding and delighting us. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the emotion what we are watching does to us, because we are in an intimate relationship now with Video.  We share the good stuff, and keep some videos much closer. Sometimes we don’t even feel alone anymore because of the wealth of work that is in front of us, and of course the deadlines, which are in back of us.  Sometimes gently breezing through the airscape, sometimes pounding us for attention.

We in Machinima can sometimes chose how to work within these deadlines, whether we work with a 24/7 team from all around the globe. Filling in for one another when time zones mean someone has to finally go to sleep, or sitting solo flying like a captain, off into many blue & green screen yonders.
We are at our helm and at our passion, riding our ship of vision and visual clues through a myriad of buttons, animations, frame rate juggling acts as well as beauty, memory, terror and outrage. And let’s not even mention Power outages, or what we sacrifice to get a bit of extra bandwidth at times.  We are creators in a universe we understand.  It has been said that man did not create the Universe so it can never be fully understand it, but man has created  this metaverse, and within our chosen worlds we see that this edge of tomorrow might appear flat to others, but to us it is endless, unfolding like our imaginations. And where other people see gray prims, we see possibilities, for that which hasn’t rezzed for others, we actually dream about in a new state of lucid dreaming which incorporates our daily visual journals into much more.

 And when we wake, we can give life to these dreams and concepts, which come to us in our subconscious and not only because we are over tired and most likely hallucinating. No, it is because we are living through that veil in between dreams and waking state.  We have come to respect that place for our field of visions. We are listening and paying attention to those images and that visual truth that speaks to us – we are awake in our dreams and then, we are authoring them daily, making notes, making edits and the spill over effect of this, is that we share. And we show and we can illuminate Your thinking with Our images, our dreams.  That is a pretty powerful tool indeed, those of us in the machinima community watch a lot of each others content and it informs us, inspires and pushes us. In it’s way we are living a collective dream with one another – again quite powerful.

We all have found ourselves clicking links for so many reasons. A lot of clicks are admittedly for Video – On YouTube, 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute, 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US and In 2011, YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth. These are powerful metrics. you are part of it and it is Global

 Will we ever get tired of watching moving pictures?  I think visual pictures are in our DNA – from the old hearth - We now have a virtual campfire to fascinate us.  Video is, as we all know such a powerful way of communicating, and of finding meaning.

Recently meaning took on a new dimension for me as I saw a video that showed me something so much greater because it was in concept, actually a way to live within art. I am talking about the installation of Vincent Van Gogh's Virtual world of paintings - recreated as the little bedroom in Arles, or the fields of flowers he became so well known for.  When you can live in a painting, and study it from the inside out, then you your reality becomes their dream, and isn’t that in some ways what we also try to do with our work? To involve the person watching it so fully they are living through it with us. Our being able to connect through film means the audience understands intuitively because we were successful at communicating. Perhaps they can see more than we knew.  Because we only have one par of eyes – but with your eyes and your eyes and your eyes there is so much more sight.

Van Gogh, whose single painting of Dr. Gachet sold for S$138.4 million, did not sell one painting in his lifetime outside of to his brother Theo.  To have such a gift as Van Gogh is priceless, to own a painting of Van Gogh is to be rich in other ways.  So I ask you to consider this – would you rather BE a van Gogh or OWN a Van Gogh?  The thought of having that much of a creative gift might be a burden – and surely it is easier to have the cash and do as one wants.  Yet I think of this as I stand in front of the machinima community and know that we would chose craft over money. In our new medium and in this moment we do all we can to inhabit our art as well as portray it, so that others may truly see and experience it more fully.



Machinexpo/SLactions 2012 from The Movies FR on Vimeo.

2 Nov 2012

The 5th Annual Machinima-Expo Awards 2012

This year we took a theme for the Expo that would reflect what is important as we move forward. In this decade of  increased awareness on all levels of the Entertainment industry on the value and validity of games, "Let's Get Real" is what we chose.  Let's Get Real means, in game engine film making, a celebration of the craft of machinima film making (which is something the Expo has been doing since 2008 by the way) and the exploration of where, how, what and why we are getting better and bigger all the time.

I was certainly delighted to be asked to be Programming Chair this year, and wanted very much to expand awareness of our chosen medium against a backdrop of great interest in the gaming community and game engine platforms. There has been such a tremendous growth in our field over the past decade and Machinima is, in the words of Burnie Burns "In need of narrative" Well we couldn't agree more and Narrative takes craft and skill, which is at our very heart and what Machinima-Expo is about. Please join us from the comfort of your computer or favorite device as we will be Livestreamed for Your Comfort.  There are films galore of note and panelists who have real experience and depth of knowledge in this genre and in the game industry area as well. There are really some stunning things to see, and if you can get inworld to Second Life, where this Festival will be broadcast from, a lot of very interesting and exciting things to do including a walk around Virtual Central Park! And of course people to meet....

We are a growing field and the demand for excellence is a call we hear and honor in the work we do. Please, join us!

The Machinima Expo 2012 Programming Schedule

25 Sep 2012

Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD) & PookyMedia

There is increasing concern over the infiltration of the airborne pestilence which mosquitoes are in the United States. It is very effective to educate the public about what can be done to help eradicate and stem the growth of this problem.  Having great success with "Vector Inspectors" we were next tapped to do an educational film for 4th Graders in the ever sunny and warm Greater Los Angeles area.  This is a film which is to be shown as part of a greater mobile science lab on wheels: as Pesky the Mosquito says, "Hello, Junior Vector Scientists!"

This is a wonderful way to educate using visuals which resound with an audience that is  increasingly familiar and accepting of a game engine's graphical content. We will keep you posted on updates from this space, and hope you enjoy this short film that has just been released.



15 Aug 2012

The 5th Annual Machinima - Expo Film Festival


"The Finest in Machinima Filmmaking" is a distinction that Machinima - Expo embodies.  This is game engine video which utilizes our newer tools and technologies to craft films which are recorded from the screens we are in front of and which we create within.  They can be within virtual worlds, or programs; with others inhabiting avatars, or not.  This is a genre of choice for increasingly talented people who are responding to the challenges that great filmmaking presents, no matter what the medium.

Recently Ginette Pizzaro of AViewTV, which does a remarkable job of promoting machinima, contacted me for information about the upcoming EXPO 2012.  Please have a read of what Ricky Grove & Kate Fosk have to say on it's history and future, and I chime in too.

http://aview.tv/?p=2176

This is going to be an incredible year and our programming, sponsorships and prizes will reflect this, please stay tuned to this space for more information on all. Machinima - Expo is all about the depth and breadth of the medium, showing clearly the artistic and narrative accomplishments we can achieve with our animation engines of choice.


20 Jul 2012

Oh oh oh - What's Machinima got to do with it?

http://appmarket.tv/opinion/1760-whats-machinima-got-to-do-with-it.html

The word Machinima was invented in the mid - 90's and stands for "machine cinema, or film done on machine". It is another term we recognize through it's mention in the news. Here Pooky talks about what this new genre of film means, and why. Although it might be a destination it also represents  and medium which is increasingly developing into a brave new art form.

Resident Director Russell Boyd interviewed for World Gaming Executive magazine!

Turn right now to page 15, if you are reading this blog then you want to know more about the fabulous director who makes some of the most astounding machinima movies around. Pooky got the opportunity to interview Russell and explore his remarkable indepth knowledge of this intriguing medium.  It is an interview well worth reading for its enlightening answers.

SIGVE Awards!


Vector Inspectors was recognized on many levels by this educational film festival. Many thanks to the educators whose work truly inspires all of us in our work in Virtual Worlds.

ireport CNN on Vector Inspectors

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-801893

Inworld reporter Janey Bracken turned in a pretty cool interview with Pooky about the Vector Inspectors Public Service Announcement, which has been an incredible successful, in terms of participation and hitting its target audience.  Here some reflections and remarks on the film and machinima you might enjoy.


7 Jun 2012

Film Festival Recognition for Time Travelers 4 – The Pattern


When a film is being crafted, we are so involved in the process and the many details that go into orchestrating the final production that the days when we submit our film to festivals seems way in the distance.

It is never that far away though, and we have been waiting for some results to come to announce that we have gotten Time Travelers 4 into some awesome places.

Los Angeles Movie Awards

Awards in the animation category.



Award of Excellence in Animation







Best Animated Characters








Best Voice-Over
Rysan Fall as Sebastian






New Media Film Festival


Accepted in Digital Comics, Animation, Trailers and Machinima category.







FlipsideTV Film Festival


Finalist for June Festival








Blue Plum Animation Festival

Official Selection













FILE - Electronic Language International Festival

Selected to be presented in FILE Machinima.







Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education

Winner Digital Storyteller



Film is for us the telling of a story in the best and brightest way we know how. We are thrilled that the painstakingly crafted films we do are also allowing us to transcend machinima categories and become accepted into animation ones.  We will always be doing machinima, we use game engine platforms to film on of course, yet we are expanding our work to lose a categorical definition which in some cases doesn't matter.  We make cartoon films and we do so with the highest standards.  Top quality filmmaking, editing, a terrific story, compelling characters, wonderful sound and great graphics is what make these films sing!

Stay tuned over the summer for more results, we just had to let you in on our good news!

Thank you to all who watch, comment and share because we are spreading the word of the great work that can be done with terrific talent. It is a new medium we are celebrating and one that fits into the genre of animation, we do it in real-time.



2 May 2012

Vector Inspectors - Public Service Announcement

Vector Inspector School Assembly Program

Machinima and real-time animation is an art form and more, it is a great storytelling genre. The ability to screen capture what is in a virtual 360 degree environment makes a lot possible for us as film and video makers. Using the Second Life engine as our animation platform means we utilize every nuance we can to craft our films. Public Safety and Health concerns are also our concerns, as parents and citizens.

We have just finished working on a project which is our first Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito Vector Control District. This video will be shown in school auditoriums to help kids learn what they need to do to keep their home areas safe from the invasive Asian Tiger Mosquito. These school children will also be given sample kits to collect samples of water from around their home areas, which will help determine the extent of the mosquitoes' breeding.

This mosquito has been seen in Southern California since last September and while not indigenous to the area, if allowed to establish, they could potentially spread disease and be a game changer for lifestyle there. They transmit a number of dangerous human diseases as well as dog heartworm. This is a community issue that requires community level support and participation.



PookyMedia was given the task of creating a film to be shown in schools and using real-time animation, or machinima, we were able to give life to the characters, personalities and really show what kids will be required to do to help and participate in this important scientific study. It will also illustrate how to keep their home areas safe as well. We added music that would inspire and with the great unlimited creativity of Second Life and its creators, along with our PookyMedia team, have created a video that will hopefully teach and help eradicate this real and present threat to the great state of California.

I have relatives and friends who live in Southern California so this was brought especially home to me. I am very very proud that our work will be a help to public health and safety for this nation. We share it with you and if you are in the Southern California area, now you know what to do - get rid of the standing water anywhere around your home!

17 Apr 2012

Merv Griffen of The Internet

If the Technology didn’t exist, the moment would have created it. OnTheAir.com is on that wavelength. This is viewer call in with web cam application programming that gives us the chance to host shows with audience participation. In some ways it is like call in radio except radio doesn't need Hair, Lighting and Makeup. Being an avatar working in a virtual world, with camera ready features doesn't need that either. Log In Viewer Entertainment is something that resonates pretty deep with me, Second Life has given me a tremendous opportunity which might just be ready to port, so I'm going to try it out. I am still doing the shows inworld, Real Life is just another platform.

For those of you who know me, developing real time live action log in game shows is, the future of entertainment, as immersive game show, means you become part of the program. Here a community can also develop around the game and the brands which will eventually sponsor them. I am so convinced of this I am leaving my avatar on the grid and bringing my somewhat realer, definitely more imperfect self in front of the webcam for Yay Me or Nay Me, which originated as a segment from one of the shows I have running out of Second Life called The 1st Question on the Virtual TV network treet.tv.

Having people compete for sponsored prizes has been part of entertainment beginning with Radio, which early TV picked up. One of the longest running titles on TV is the Price is Right, which has been going since 1956. People love to be involved in games and love to cheer on and sympathize with winners or losers.

What we have seen grow over the past 6 years is proof that viewers love being doers. Sit back and relax has firmly become lean forward and engage whether in game or Social Media. Facebook, Pinterest, twitter, instagram. Got an image? A thought? Something to share on every and any level? Well there are a multitude of places where you can show and tell everyone just that. Crowd content, we are ready to take that next step and play within the program, even authoring our own shows. This offers sponsors unique opportunity which transcends liking or following or repinning. YouTube is proving this all the time. Playing within a sponsored challenge has to be more exciting. I am ready to go live to see if this is true.

There is a lot of talk about what will TV be in the future? How will people shop through their TV's, or talk about what they are watching? What is Social TV? What is content everywhere, even on your Google glasses? I got tired of watching a long time ago. We are now at a new place to activate our own programming, and invite others to be part of it. And you can choose to actually “take the stage.” This is a perfect set up for contestants, fast easy and fun. Immediately gratifying and exciting. There can be no doubt that people love to play games – Us humans spend 3 Billion hours a week playing video and computer games, according to PEW. However these recent Nielsen numbers on TV viewing habits over the past decade were surprising. That is, how sitcoms have disappeared from the radar, is it possible that people would rather generate their own laugh-track (Or other appropriate sounds one makes when playing a video game) than listen to one? My guess is this significant casual entertainment segment has migrated elsewhere to being part of the action, not passively entertained.





RealityTV is very significantly represented, which says that a whole lot of folks want to see people who aren’t the most beautiful and stunning doing things that involves real life challenges, like losing weight, instead of watching Friends.

With the growth of Connected TV I think the future lies not in what you are watching. It's going to be what you are doing. And allowing people to take part in the programming is going to be what's next.

Being part of this future through the avatar based game shows I have successfully developed towards “Merv Griffen of The Internet” now demands I step up to the tech that has just presented itself, or lose sight of the title. I just had to take this call.

When you can watch yourself because you have just logged into a show and get swept up in live play, we are entering a new place for entertainment. This is a beginning, the curve just might have caught up with me. Hope to see you there.

Tune in and Play - Yay Me or Nay Me - Log In Viewer Entertainment does indeed spell LIVE - OntheAir.com/channel/125 Tuesday 5PM PDT / 8PM EST

21 Mar 2012

Slenquiring minds want to know...

The Second Life Enquirer interviewed me recently! As an admirer of the publication, for their insight and forthright reporting on things we need to know, I was really proud to be in this -
Please have a read and feel free to comment -
This is a stunning platform and moment in time for those of us who are digital to our virtual bones!

http://www.slenquirer.com/2012/03/spotlight-on-pooky-amsterdam-ceo-of.html

28 Jan 2012

Second Life & the FPS (First Person Story)

The $10 million Qualcomm XPrize  is for a“Star Trek like” medical tricorder. Would this have occurred without Star Trek?  Though I am not sure to the answer, I do know that science fiction is where new invention inspires reality.  Science fiction has storytelling at its core, we have utilized these stories and the gadgets within for templates of the future.

Writers of Science Fiction have been able to tap some stream of consciousness to come, in the incredibly rich veins of creation they mine and bring forth. Amongst those in the public are the scientists, who have an interest in these inventions, and I am sure young Star Trek fans were greatly influenced by what they saw each week. Clearly there is a crossover effect for science, fiction and fact. “Snow Crash” has been cited as an inspiration for Second Life itself.

Pointedly story telling is more than entertainment, it is the free imagining which leads to actualization which will carry an audience along with you. We are still Human version 1.0 and a story that has resonance is not just one with a lot of flashy effects.

Traditional media tells us the story in movie or TV format where we watch passively, video games today allow us to play within the games' story. (Star Wars The Old Republic game released on Dec 22nd last year, had over 60 million in-game hours  played within its first week— roughly equivalent to watching all six Star Wars movies over 4 million times. ) The narrative structure is however tightly drawn, and players are forced to work within the game designers story, which granted, works for many.

Surely these players utilize the available assets and create their own interpretations of the future they are playing a part in.  The Imperial Agent in SWTOR will have to acquire new skills and equipment to help them combat the ever-growing threat to the Empire, and they have to think fast and employ weapons as fast as they can.  This is no leisurely adventure: action and reflexes are the demands of this kind of game. The player is involved with the technology in new and yes highly immersive ways, but there is no originality here and no “what if.  There are no shoulders of giants upon which to stand within a game like this.  Your success depends on how fast and accurately you can work those buttons.

The question becomes: Do you play someone else's story? Or do you originate your own? When the story teller becomes the story participant, the narrative is taken to another level through that immersion. The authenticity of the story is irrefutable when you are living it, not waiting for the next game prompt.

In World of Warcraft though you pick your lineage, you are somewhat freer within it.  And another MMO of note HabboHotel with over 225 million registered users, allows neither scripting nor asset creation, but you are welcome to freely form your activities with what is available. What you don't have is the greater collective of millions of people who can build what they want.

For this you really do have to go to Second Life.  This is where new fiction will meet the virtual road and the first person story becomes the multi person story and eventually, the event. Science fiction  role play is significant in Second Life, with spaceships,  starbases, and a plethora of accessories available. As you can customize your look, author your role play and your storyline, the eventual enterprise which grows out of this stands an excellent chance of becoming where new invention takes place. Within virtual worlds, new ideas also infuse our minds with imaginary and fantastic invention.  And these ideas are taken further, and form the seeds of reality not only as it will come to be but as it is now!

While I am one person and can think of a lot, I am only one person, with you there is twice as much, and with a legion of people enterprising and playing,we can think of that much more. Our intelligence has demands placed upon it by others who expect a retort or answer as we play in real time with them.   This is beyond suspending our belief – we are willingly immersing ourselves in a new story which we grow and evolve daily.  This is is so different from traditional sit back and relax media.  This is tips of your fingers, edge of your seat engagement.  For those of us involved, other kinds of games pale. And here is why Second Life isn't really a game. Its a life-story told against the backdrop of a million different user creations. Just like when you walk down the street- it is the creation of many different hands, not just one Lead Art Director.

This living story we are telling one another is vital to the  history of ourselves.  Being active participants in something we can experience beyond the “mere mortalness' of our daily and present lives. Powerful stuff, and I do look to this plane to create the new invention and discovery, because it is what we are doing with a marketplace of amazing inventions and items that I would bet will be seen in the physical world over the next 20 years or sooner.

And I also imagine a kind of  Gedankenkuche (thought kitchen) of the future as well. Not only is this a place for people to create their stories, but also where actual scientists are talking. This is the platform for development of the future, while we can now utilize full media within this environment – where we can invite scientists to sit across from a virtual table, actual location unimportant and even use Wolframs Alpha on a prim to cross fertilize ideas. That is really the science fiction of the future, where scientists can discuss ideas in real time with no limits and then, even see their visions actualized in 3D.

What kind of stories will these be? Ones I suspect which lead one day to documentaries.

Where this is the home of the future for thought leaders who can utilize not only real time interaction, video, film and more for problem solving, but the great resource which is one another.  .

Next up – Virtual Game Shows – or how I learned to stop worrying and love the buzzer

2 Jan 2012

Cartoonification

Word - Up is the part of The 1st Question where our esteemed panel contributes to the lexicon with their own originals. Taking off on a new buzzword, next year's trending word, (as I see it) provided the title for a recent article in MediaPost.




Cartoonification – New Trend 2012

Science and technology are intertwined with animation and magic.
In 1936, Walt Disney patented the Art of Animation - using the Multiplane Camera in a way that allowed animators to reuse backgrounds and other unchanged portions of an animated film. This improved the quality of the finished film as well as cut time and cost.

In 1938 while watching a Mickey Mouse cartoon, belief becomes easily suspended, because that B & W image is nothing like the life one experiences once the lights go up.

In 1970 -Lilliane Schwartz debuted Pixellation one of the first digitally created films to be shown as a work of art. She worked early in her career with Bell Laboratories, developing mixtures of sound, video, and art.

In 1978, Mickey would get his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1988, Spielberg would give Disney a shot in the arm with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Ask anyone you know who their favorite cartoon character is and they will have an answer for you, possibly more than one. Cartoons and animation are a part of our lives, our visual entertainment, our early identity and frame of reference.

Animation had become so widely accepted that in 2001, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced a new Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

The rise of animation has also entered our living rooms in full force with video games that people play. At no time more so than now, do people get behind an avatar, literally and figuratively to spend hours inhabiting a character. 60 million+ hours have been spent playing Star Wars The New Republic since it's release this Dec 20th. It is a staggering amount of time.

According to the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) 2011 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, 72 percent of American households now play video games. The average gamer is 37 years old and has been playing for 12 years. It's a good demographic.  The ability to be in the cartoon and run the action has become a mode for many, all you need to earn that passport is an avatar. While we embody our avatars, giving them greater or lesser powers than we have on the other side of the small screen, we ask to be cartoonified in order to join in the activity.

A few years ago VodaPhone created “animated videos” of ZooZoo's – this was an ad campaign developed by Ogilvy & Mather to convey different value added services offered by the mobile phone company.

The videos while they look animated, are made with people wearing costumes to look this way. http://youtu.be/Stc8G6RfCKY  Why wear a costume though? Why not be a cartoon? Consider this as a definite trend for video as we reach into the new year.

Since YouTube's inception an amazing number of hours of video have been watched, and every year there is a Top Ten list. This year 2011, for the first time a cartoon has entered not only the Top Ten but the top 5. Nyan is a video game character that flies while you score for eating healthy foods. (That the cat has a pop-tart body should be an alert to Kellogg.) This might be the Nexus of game culture, cartoons and video.

The rise of inexpensive to produce engines such as  Xtranormal, Stupeflix, or GoAnimate allows new technology to give rise to animation at the press of a button. It doesn't allow for spectacular graphics, needs  good writing to make an impact, and shows a new direction in inexpensive animation platforms.

Whether your avatar is having fun or function is up to you – when you begin recording that avatar in your virtual world or game, then you are becoming a part of a story and able to do or be a part of the grandeur that was Rome, the middle ages, or the far or near distant future. Being part of the story, embodying this is another way of extending who we are. And because these worlds exist so do the platform or structure within which to be filmed.

The game engine platforms of video games and virtual worlds allows a 360 degree view of various and more diverse environments. They are ones we become more adept in, and active in through our time there. These scenes and environments will move more into the forefront of commercial activity as virtual assets also continue to grow. It allows marketing departments to take chances, and to offer something very special for small cost.  This is a good example of game engine graphics coming of age.

And if someone wanted to start selling those Xtranormal teddy bears next Christmas on Amazon, I think there would be a market for them.