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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Laptop malfunction deleted eMails

Due to some Laptop mailfunction a couple of days ago, some eMails have been lost. In case you sent any eMails within the last two weeks, please send them again.
As soon as things are back up and running, I'll post a brief update on Leipzig (with pictures).

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Siggraph06 is over and i'm back "home". As already stated in the previous post, the one thing siggraph did well was putting a perspective on what machinima competes with nowadays.
The role of machinima at siggraph was, to put it gently, minor. Though a lot of the sketches and paper presentations were dealing with realtime rendering and computation, there were only two really relevant happenings at the convention - namely Reallusions announcement of iClone's version 1.5 and LindenLab's implementation of a realtime IK Solver and Puppeteering controls for their virtual environment Second Life.

While the high quality world got to see new ways of motion capturing (and now, face capturing...) , a hdr screen and Some New Software, realtime animation seemed pretty uninteresting for the big guys.
The amount of data generated by today's motioncapture and 3D Scanning technologies sky-rockets (and one has to ask himself which poor Indian kid is going to clean up all that data?), and we see more and more Pixar lookalike 3D animated movies, and of course even more seamless blending between Film and CG.
At least to me, the style and artwork of most 3D Animations lack any development and i feel oversaturated by cute little 3D comic characters that resemble the good old Warner Brothers cartoons.

This is a first chance for machinima to establish itself as a new way of production.
By exploring new ways of visual representation and character creation - not making the mistake of following the big players into photorealism or WB comic styles - and using its realtime and code-based approach to filmmaking, machinima can establish a new visual form that could go uncontested and would turn the compromise of realtime computation into the freedom of non-photorealistic depiction of stories.

In Siggraph's electronic theater of course, there's the occasional highlight (see below) and some more experimental stuff going on.
But most of the actual 3D animation production looked pretty much the same.

In terms of "market", "interest" and "workflow" we are way behind the development that's taking place in the "real" 3D world.
It seems that the amount of work that people put into animated movie making still exceeds our wildest dreams - only that now we are getting more and more "mkay-ish" stories and productions.
The consolidation of graphical quality that slowly takes place in the high-end world makes way for the big question of content and the relation of the amount of work put in and the final outcome.

And that is where machinima definetly has another chance of scoring a couple of points. Though graphically still rough and dirty, the relation between work and outcome is completely different.

But first of all, machinima needs to find its way out of the dependence of Computer Game Development and predefined assets. With most machinima still relying on other people's art direction, there is no way this really ambitious approach on animated filmmaking will be taken seriously anytime soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

putting things into perspective

The Special Jury Honor of this year's Siggraph computer animation festival is a short animated film called 458nm and i was happy to attend the "Making Of" session yesterday.
Realised in just under 5 months by a group of three students from german film-school Filmakademie, the film depicts two cyborg snakes making love.

Seeing the way people worked on achieving their goal in such a short amount of time was astounding and, at least to me personally, puts a lot of the things i was slowly getting used to working in machinima back in perspective.
Realizing just how few compromises people are willing to make in their productions and how much creative effort they put in to create something new makes machinima "as an artform" (how many of us are calling it) simply pale and fade away.

Now i know that i am comparing apples with oranges and that machinima isn't meant to be high class animation. But the impact of a movie that was created from the vision of these young people, instead of just being cut together from different predefined assets, has a totally, and i mean totally, different quality.
There is a thin line out there and machinima as a whole is still way below it.