Cover story Misc

Play your part!

Making films inside videogames has been a growing trend since the advent of 3D games in the '90s. Quake was the first videogame to give freedom and powerful resources to creators bringing hour long movies with custom built sets, special effects, graphics, real voices, sound effects and music could be created.

As the game engines, tools and 3D hardware improved and better and more diverse games were released, the popularity of making movies with games increased. Today, this trend is known as machinima, a term that defines both a production technique and a film genre. Machinima (pronounced: muh-sheen-eh-mah) is a combination of filmmaking, animation and game development. It is movies made within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies.

Machinima takes the basics of real world filmmaking into the virtual world of the game. Pre-production is needed to prepare the screenplay, the storyboard, the sets, the characters and camera positions. Once everything is ready, filming can start.

Ready! Action! Go! The game starts when the players with the game controllers, instead of playing it, perform their role in the movie, as any other actor. The shooting of the movie can be through network playing. Machinima makers can also produce the movie on their own by using automated script and other tools, usually provided by the developers of the game. After the shooting, a period of post-production is needed for editing, adding special effects, music and sound.

This technique is much faster and cheaper to produce than traditional CGI animation. Sets and characters can easily be changed and there is no need for expensive hardware and software tools. The films are quickly spread over the Internet and community forums. Machinima fans created the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences, where one can watch, create and share a variety of films.


{mosimage}Popular series

The most popular 3D games provide the scenarios for machinima works. Rooster Teeth is one of the most popular machinima community websites. They are the creators of The Strangerhood, a sit-com based on The Sims 2, where a bunch a Sims is gathered in an apartment for unknown reasons. Based in the game Halo, Burns has created Red vs. Blue. In this series nine intergalactic soldiers are stuck in a non-descript landscape. They are supposed to fight each other, but they wonder why they are there in the first place and joke about profound matters.

Grand Theft Auto, Second Life, Unreal Tournament and almost any 3D game can be the environment for a machinima work. As computers get more powerful, more people join the community and this goes mainstream. Several producers are already selling DVD of their films and series. If you play it, film it!

Machinima films can be watch at


Leave a Reply