Articles

Will We Soon Be Able To Generate Photo-Realistic Films On Demand? A Reality Check

A little while ago I saw a fascinating comment on Hacker News, echoing a sentiment that I’ve seen around the tech community as a whole. Within a few years, video games will be generating photo-realistic feature films on demand, with unique scripts and characters and worlds adapted to the viewer's tastes and mood. Original comment here. I’ve spent the last 20 years attempting to figure out how to generate as much as possible of the movie-making process in a computer game - with successes including a well-received feature film made using computer games tech and feature-length work for companies like Electronic Arts.

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Guest-Posting: “Ia, Ia, Google Fthagn” and “Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology Is Indistinguishable From Cthulhu”

What would the Cthulhu Mythos look like if they were written from scratch in 2015? That’s the question I’m answering over on Charles Stross’s blog today, in a post entitled “Ia, Ia, Google Fthagn Lovecraft’s concern was vast, alien entities who have no knowledge of, or concern for, the human race. Our modern-day concerns are about vast, alien entities who have total, invasive, privacy-destroying knowledge of the minutae of the human race - and still have no concern for us.

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Lessons I Learned From My First Live-Action Short (After Nearly 20 Years Of Animation)

So, last week I released my first-ever live action narrative film project. And this week I’m going to try something a bit different in my blogging (for me, anyway): a write up of the lessons I learned during the course of the film’s production. Some context: I’ve been producing animation for nearly 20 years at this point. My work’s been featured on CNN, discussed in the New York Times and reviewed by Roger Ebert (which was very cool).

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Why The Guy Who Coined “Machinima” Is Now Making Live-Action Films

I made my first Machinima – in-game animation – film in 1997. That was three years before I coined a word – Machinima – to describe the weird animation stuff I was doing, based on the suggestion of fellow Machinima pioneer Anthony Bailey. I worked in the medium between then and 2014. But now, a year later, I’ve got 4 story projects going and none of them is Machinima. On Monday, I release my first ever live-action (fiction) film, HOWTO: Demon Summoning ( click here to get updated when it comes out ).

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Do Podcasts Beat Film, Games And Comics As A Storytelling Medium?

A couple of weeks ago I posted my moderately ambitious piece overviewing all available storytelling media in 2015 from the point of view of a creator looking for the best possible medium in which to tell stories. And people liked it a great deal - I’ve had positive comments from all over the web, and a great deal of discussion with very intelligent folk about my conclusions. That discussion brought up a lot of fascinating points, which I’ll be addressing in a couple of posts over here.

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Could Machinima Bridge The Gap Between Game And Film? (2001)

_This is another in my series of republished articles from just after I founded Machinima.com, which subsequently became the Machinima channel. This one’s from quite early on, in the days when we were all figuring out this “Machinima” thing, and just around the time I was working on a AAA games project with EA, in 2001. I’ve picked this editorial because it’s relevant to the games, Machinima and VR world of 2015 in two ways: first, the “Telltale” style of game (such as “Wolf Among Us”, pictured), which is very heavily Machinima-reliant, and secondly, Virtual Reality filmmaking, which no less an authority than Roger Ebert suggested should be predominantly an interactive experience with the viewer as protagonist.

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Further Comment: “They Took Our Myths”

The reason that this blog’s been quiet this week is that I was kindly invited by SF author Charles Stross to guest-blog over at Charlie’s Diary, his extremely long-running and very popular blog. I’ve had a great time over there, writing two posts. The first, “They Took Our Myths” proposed that the reason the Cthulhu Mythos is so popular is because it’s the most recently created mythic structure that we’re allowed to access as storytellers - all the more recent ones, like Middle Earth, the Buffyverse, the Marvel universe, Star Wars, and so on, are locked up in gilded cages.

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Why Don’t 3D Avatar Chatrooms Really Work?

This is a classic post from Machinima.com, which I originally posted around 2002! In it, I reference classic Machinima films - I’m talking about things like the Matrix 4x1 series. I’ve been having a conversation about chat rooms, recently, and the reason that despite the fact that there’s all these fancy 3D chat rooms, they’ve never taken off. It seems odd- after all, they’ve got everything that traditional text-based chatrooms have, plus a real 3D environment.

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3 New Virtual Reality Stereo Panoramas For The Oculus Rift And GearVR

OK, so - a rather unexpected prezzie for Friday! Yep, it’s time for Strange Company to get back on the virtual reality bike, with a bunch of new stereo 360 degree scenes courtesy of Octane Render’s amazing stereo cubemaps. If you have a GearVR or an Oculus Rift and haven’t checked these things out yet, they’re astonishing - they’re panoramic scenes, but with depth thanks to rendering in stereo. I’ve been experimenting with this tech over the last few days, and I’ve rendered a few fresh panoramas for everyone to enjoy, as they’re quite thin on the ground.

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Could Your Next Camera Operator Be A Robot?

Before movie Terminators are stalking our streets, they’ll probably be shooting our movies. One of the reasons that I’ve moved over from animation - after 20 years, dozens of shorts and an animated feature film - to live-action is that live-action filmmaking seems to have hit a tipping point. Better technology is making movies cheaper and cheaper to make, to the point that the cost of making and distributing a credible, watchable feature film is rapidly approaching the cost of writing and distributing a credible novel.

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