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  ‘Warcraft’ Machinima Explains Role of Internet [Corrected]  
Posted 2005-12-05 by Tony Walsh
Forget online shopping and e-cards, everyone knows the internet is for porn. So do a group of machinimists who have put together a truly bizarre video using the online game World of Warcraft as a filmmaking tool [link via ainfigree]. The movie-makers have cleverly captured, and edited together Warcraft's built-in animations with hilarious results.

The video's musical performance was stolen from Avenue Q, apparently a musical theatre group that works with puppets [thanks, Hank Hoodoo for the heads up]. It's a pity the machinimists didn't create a wholly original work, and moreso that they didn't give due credit to Avenue Q.
  All Your Movies Are Belong to Activision  
Posted 2005-11-28 by Tony Walsh
Recently-released movie-making game The Movies seems like a great way to make home-made "machinima" (movies made using a computer game). A political machinima movie called "The French Democracy" circulating around the internet caught the attention of popular weblog Boing Boing, which noted that "Most machinima is silly, or porny, or violent -- but this is real political stuff, the kind of thing the First Amendment was invented for. It's a real milestone in machinima history." You might think so, if you hadn't read the the End-User License Agreement (EULA) users automatically agree to by using The Movies.

Contrary to what The Movies seems to have been made for, it appears that Activision (the game's publisher) maintains ownership over pretty much all user-created films. The EULA states that while users retain ownership of movies they create, Activision exclusively owns "any and all content within [users'] Game Movies that was either supplied with the Program or otherwise made available to [users] by Activision or its licensors..." This means that any movie containing anything less than 100% user-created content (an impossible feat as far as I can tell) is under Activision's control. Even Lionhead Studios, the creator of the game, gets grabby with movies users submit to its web site.

"The French Democracy" might be a milestone in machinima history, but since Activision owns the content of the movie (the character models, environments and other material), the publisher could order the movie removed from internet sites. First Amendment rights don't seem to stand up very well to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
  ‘The Movies’ and Intellectual Property  
Posted 2005-11-14 by Tony Walsh
Lionhead Studios has finally launched its awaited movie-making game The Movies, giving users the ability not just to play the game, but make their own digital films. With the launch of the game comes an official gallery of user-created films, where the best flicks become top picks. Judging by some of the top-rated user-submitted films, it seems The Movies is a promising tool for creating machinima (movies made in a game environment), but I wonder who owns the product of user creation. I don't have a copy of The Movies, so I can't review its terms of use or end-user license agreement, but I was able to find a Terms of Use document pertaining to the Lionhead web site that spells out ownership issues for user-submitted films.

The good news is that Lionhead recognizes that users might create original material with or insert original material into The Movies--this is referred to as "Additional Content." The bad news is that, by submitting your movie to the Lionhead web site, you grant Lionhead a non-exclusive but otherwise unlimited license to your Additional Content. The license, in short, permits Lionhead to exploit, sell, rent and even sub-license your Additional Content. This is, in my opinion, an excessive and greedy arrangement--far more than what would be necessary for Lionhead to display your movie on its web site. If the license agreement for the game itself is as grabby, using The Movies as a machinima tool would be pointless for any creator wishing exclusive ownership over their original content.

Continue reading: ‘The Movies’ and Intellectual Property
  Herald Documents SL Video Efforts  
Posted 2005-04-16 by Tony Walsh
I cast a wary eye on Second Life's new streaming video capabilities at the beginning of the month in anticipation of widespread porn and copyright-violations. The ever-spicy Second Life Herald brings good and bad news on that front.

The good news is that at least one original machinima show is planned to be broadcast inworld. The bad news is that not only has real video porn reared its steaming head, so have apparent copyright violations, although as one video retailer was told by his real-life attourney, "because Linden dollars are not considered legal tender, showing of the films is covered under Fair Use statutes." I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure a "Public Performance" of copyrighted material isn't kosher, regardless of whether or not money changes hands.
  Barenaked Lady Appears in Game Video  
Posted 2005-03-07 by Tony Walsh
Mainstream musician meets machinima in the underground sensation "Red vs. Blue." The Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson will guest-star in the niche-hit video series created by Rooster Teeth Productions. Robertson, who identifies himself as a hardcore gamer, joins the 50th episode of Red vs. Blue as the voice of Captain Butch Flowers.

Machinima is a relatively new form of filmmaking that uses a video game environment as its stage. The idea was yoinked by MTV2's "Video Mods" program. Red vs. Blue has an impressive fan following, and could be called a form of popular gaming culture.
  MTV2’s Video Mods  
Posted 2005-01-03 by Tony Walsh
AdAge summarizes MTV2's efforts to match music videos with video game characters. It's a winning situation for all involved: MTV2 gets an inexpensive advertising vehicle, the record labels pimp their artists, the artists get street cred with young gamers, and gamers get... what, exactly? Gimmicky music videos with a blatantly advertainment bent.

When the novelty wears off, I'm pretty sure most gamers will return to their computers--after all, it is the interactive aspect of entertainment that this audience appreciates. Why watch a music video starring game character Blood Rayne when you can employ her in her native environment to eat Nazis for breakfast? Why watch an MTV video at all, when fan-made machinima is not only more artistic, but more innovative?
  Second Life Machinima Contest  
Posted 2004-07-06 by Tony Walsh
Second Life's "New Moves for a New World" contest takes full advantage of the massively-multiuser environment's newly-added custom animation feature, and invites animators to compete for fame and fortune. Prizes include a $500 gift certificate to Turbosquid, a custom avatar created by Linden Lab staff, and honourable mentions worth L$10,000 each.

Of note is the focus on creativity, and while the contest page doesn't specifically request Machinima, it does state: "Extra consideration will be given by the judges for creativity and originality and animations featuring more than one person. Recreate famous scenes [*cough*Machinima*cough*], play a game, perform theater [Machinima], tell a story [Machinima], create a fantasy world, feature unusual avatars, vehicles and builds. Use your imagination to show Second Life’s possibilities." Obviously Linden Lab is fishing for some future showcase material here as well as getting some cross-promotion in the Machinima world.
Posted 2000-12-07 by Tony Walsh
  • Higher-Speed-Edition Symptico on the horizon? The folks at think so. I'll be interested to see how Sympatico markets this. "You know how you *thought* you had the highest-speed internet access? Well, we were just kidding! Now there's an *even faster* High-Speed Edition available! You've been paying for substandard access all this time! Ha ha ha!"

  • Also reportedly coming soon, Macintosh OSX. While I very much dislike the look of this latest OS, I can't deny it's technically superior to OS9. This ZDNet article mentions that what will make or break this OS is its hardiness. I won't switch over myself until a good half-year has gone by and all the obvious bugs are taken care of. [link>mcquade]

  • Flash Usability doesn't have to be an oxymoron, although it usually is. Macromedia is heeding complaints from the `Net intelligentsia, and has erected a Usability page on their site. It's about time.

  • You've doubtless heard about Anime . Now hear about Machinima - movies produced and played back using modified game engines (such as the Quake engine). "Sidrial" is an upcoming commercial movie serial that is currently being produced using a modified QuakeIII engine. A 5-page interview with Anna Kang, mastermind behind the project, can be found at
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