Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s A Wonderful Machinima Life

Let’s take a step back and look at the year in machinima, by reflecting on the plethora of talented contestants that participated in the UWA MachinimUWA IV:  Art of the Artists Challenge.  Such participation shows the growth of the machinima community and the maturity of the art form in and of itself.  

I would venture to conclude that it was a wonderful year for virtual filmmaking in Second Life.   The UWA machinima screening in December is merely one indication of machinima’s acceptance in-world, and of course a growing appreciation of it as an art form, particularly as real-time animation, from those looking inward from the outside media world.  2011 was an excellent month for the art and creative world of Second Life, and machinima is no exception here.   Such success can be attributed to the hard work behind the scenes of premiere curator FreeWee Ling and UWA SL Founder JayJay Zifanwe.   The MachinimUWA IV: Art of the Artists rose the stakes for prize money and talent inside Second Life, and demonstrated the role of virtual creativity to those watching from the outside.  

The MachinimUWA IV: Art of the Artists rose the stakes for prize money and talent inside Second Life, and demonstrated the role of virtual creativity to those watching from the outside.   In the machinima awards, top honors went to Tutsy Navarathna’s Welcome to the Other Side (a tribute to Marshall McLuhan).   Other winners included:  Artwashers by Friday Siamendes (USA), Art of the Artists by Fuschia Nightfire (England), Qubit: Cognitive Distortion by spyVspy (Portugal) and Virtual Love by Iono Allen (France).

Other winners of various machinima categories included Hypatia Pickens (Yeah), L1aura Loire (Transformation  Virtual Art on the Brink), Veruca Vandyke (Dual),  and Cecil Hirvil (Citizen of the Universe), among others.  The awards ceremony and special machinima screening was held at the BOSL-UWA Amphitheater last Sunday, December 11th.  

Machinima, as an art form, is a powerful filmmaking and storytelling medium, and that is acknowledged through UWA’s special awards of various categories:   Emotion (Hypatia Pickens’ Yeah), Breaking the Barriers (L1aura Lorire’s Transformation Virtual Art on the Brink), The Soul (Veruca Vandyke’s Dual), The Human Heart (Hypatia Picken’s Love Prayer), and a series of excellence awards for film direction, narration, investigation, description, and so forth.  Such honors of excellence included Fuschia Nightfire, Hypatia Pickens, Oono Eiren & Sayzee Ishtari, Urban Steampunk, Iono Allen, SpyvSpy Aeon, Tutsy Navarethna,  Braclo Eber, Glasz DeCuir, Cecil Hirvi, Miso Susanowa, Blue Oleader, Friday Siamendes, L1aura Loire, Nicolex Moonwall, Ormand Lionheart, Penumbra Carter, Spiral Silverstar, Haveit Neox, Ginger Alsop, JJCCC Coronet, Moana Littleboots, Sophia Yates, and others (in no specific order).   

Some of those names are seasoned pros, but so many new filmmakers have found their way into Second Life.    Much credit must be given to UWA, MaMachinima, Second Life Machinima Artist Guild, Pop Art Lab and other machinima friendly communities for fostering growth and allowing for exhibition.    Hats off to all!   It’s been a wonderful Second Life for the machinima world!

The UWA blog has links to the winning machinima (along with links and additional information about other categories, winners, and honorable mentions -

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Forthcoming, Machinima: The Art & Practice of Virtual Filmmaking (McFarland, Fall/Winter 2011/2012) by Sonicity Fitzroy and Lowe Runo (Forward by Persia Bravin). The Professional Machinima Artist Guild graciously provides syndication of Sonicity’s blog Magnum: The Machinima Review to

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Looking Outward from Inside Second Life

The  Outside, Inside, Wonderful (Sometimes Wacky) World of Machinima

To understand the impact of machinima we have to look outward from the inside, but on occasion we also must look inward from the outside.   It's a matter of perspective.   Your audience might be producers for a moment, but the larger audience is always those who might become captivated by its charm.   It's about building an audience, from the inside outward and then inviting the outside inward to take a peek at how it is all done.  Think of all those times that you have purchased the special edition of a blockbuster DVD because you get a glimpse into how some of the special effects were created; merely out of curiosity you want to know how that explosion was made or that elf appeared to fly to the moon.  Movie magic intrigues even the best among us.  Then there's the case that some of your audience might get hooked on the craft and want to produce machinima.  Nonetheless, we must always think as viewers not as producers.  The machinima community is comprised not only of its producers, but its growing audience. 

This month I am going to take you from some of the heavy hitters of machinima, as well as those up and coming, to the commercial debut of a wonderful dragon tale featured online as part of a national Doritos competition.   In this blog, I celebrate the creative genius of machinima makers as well as those supporting and applauding their accomplishments.  It is always the goal of this column to explore the potential of machinima as an art and practice.

Machinima Expo 2011

Last weekend wrapped up the Machinima Expo 2011 in Second Life.  It is an event that run deeps into the larger machinima community and expands through the film world.   It is an impressive undertaking by all those involved, and I have to commend Kate Fosk for her social media skills.   She definitely understands it is not enough to make machinima, a huge undertaking if done well, but you must find ways to showcase such creativity.     Then you must find ways to grow your community, teach and train and involve those inspired by the works screened.   The  Machinima Expo helps to link machinima platforms and solidify these various approaches by different machinima groups into what is seen publically as the “machinima community” to the film world.  

So kudos especially to Kate for her major role in the organization of this event, and her appreciation of SL as a meeting and production platform.   It was a major undertaking that required a knowledgeable and dedicated staff, even with Kate and Ricky Groves at the helm as co-producers.  The list of those involved in the production of this event, go to the Machinima Expo blog -

The screening and meeting place in-world was held at the  UWA-BOSL (University of Western Australia/Best of SL Magazine) amphitheatre.   Jayjay Zifanwe, is a major supporter of machinima – you might detour to check out UWA’s 3D Design and Machinima Challenges, ongoing at

Then head to the Machinima Expo 2011 site for the screening of more than 60 machinima this week, November 20 to November 27th -

Some of the guest speakers, producers, and trainers of this event included:   Kate Fosk, Pooky Amsterdam, Chantal Harvey, Tikaf Viper,  Henry Lowood, Fake Jewell,  Tom Jantol,  Ricky Grove, Kate Lee,  Sherwin Liu, Damien Valentine,  Ian Chisholm,  Matt Kelland, AnimaTechnica, Anim8tor Cathy, CodeWarrior Carling, Ingrid Moon, Frank Dellario,  Bernard Drax, Russell Boyd, Michael Nitsche, Anna Akbari, Susan Johnston (New Media Festival*) & Tony Dyson, among others.

Hungry for Machinima

The Scissores Group – Tony Dyson and Chantal Harvey – posted an amusingly sweet commercial for a competition sponsored by Doritos.    It was filmed entirely on location in Second Life.   

Described by Tony, the plot revolves around a heroic dad who “takes his 12 year old daughter for a surprise visit to the city's newly opened Multi-Media Film Museum, only to find that he needs all his wits about him.  A mean-looking Dragon, who seemed happy to attack a poor old wizard who had to lock himself in his castle, suddenly changes his attention to break free of the confines of his dimension to seek his favourite snacks Doritos, but our cool thinking Dad saves the day, with his fast thinking.”

Have fun viewing the commercial at the Doritos site ...or the Scissores site:

The commercial was a team effort, noting the credits:
Director and Concept Designer: Tony Dyson
Producer and Machinimatographer: Chantal Harvey
Voice Actor Girl: Liat Reina
Voice Actor Dad: Brian Albury
Dragon Handlers: Tony Dyson and Judi Newall
Breaking Glass: Marcus Parker-Rhodes
Dragon Avatar: RaptonX Zorger
Castle: Luna Mcmillan
Museum: Macs Martinek & Hellena Kidd (AEther Life)
Production Film Company: Scissores tm -

It might be worthy to mention that Tony writes children’s books and really has been a major player in Hollywood.  See his personal/professional web site for some portfolio materials:

Congrats to all involved in this project, with much success in the future anticipated. 

Great news from the Machinima Expo folks about The New Media Festival.

For now, that's it for Soni!    
Happy Machinima making and viewing! 
and UWA-BOSL Amphitheatre,

Remember Santa is watching too!!! so you better be good machinimatographers!

Forthcoming, Machinima: The Art & Practice of Virtual Filmmaking (McFarland, Fall/Winter 2011/2012) by Sonicity Fitzroy and Lowe Runo (Forward by Persia Bravin). The Professional Machinima Artist Guild graciously provides syndication of Sonicity’s blog Magnum: The Machinima Review to

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween, Machinimists!!!!

Boo!  Why are so many of us fascinated with what goes bump in the night?  For one day - but really a few days or more - we attend costume parties virtually and in real life, and treat our eyes to scary movies (and trick them with special effects), even the cheesiest movies have a sense of appeal.  The holiday has grown commercially, but it still manages to carry with it a festive spirit that brings people together.  The historical origins of Halloween have been traced to the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Roman feast of Pomona, and other myths and legends.   It is a time for gathering and harvest.   Spring brings renewal, while October 31st marks the end of summer.

In America, Hollywood has a major role in defining Halloween.  It is the season when Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are resurrected for a night, and sometimes a month.   It is when everyone potentially becomes an actor for a day, and adorns their body with a costume.   Machinimists, photographers and other artists capture these images in their own unique ways, from the macabre to the comedic, from clowns to fairy tale characters.

It is when people let loose and for a moment they are someone else.  It's all about suspending belief and playing a role.    That is the foundation of good machinima and storytelling, is it not?    So maybe a good scare might be the perfect prescription for the machinima writer's or producer's block.

The photos are from a couple of Halloween parties - one at a temporary Haunted House on the Island of Fame (near the corporate and production offices of Lowe Runo Productions LCC)...

...and the other one at Asil's NeoLondon, a steampunk sim complete with role play, shopping, and machinima areas.

Here's a Halloween link from Draxtor Despres you might want to check out for fun!!!

 Happy Halloween!
Forthcoming, Machinima: The Art & Practice of Virtual Filmmaking (McFarland, December 2011) by Sonicity Fitzroy and Lowe Runo (Forward by Persia Bravin). The Professional Machinima Artist Guild graciously provides syndication of Sonicity’s blog Magnum: The Machinima Review to

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Bad Machinima Might Be Good

If you are old enough to appreciate the show Mystery Science Theater, you will get this – the idea that even bad movies have a place in our popular culture.   In this case, the hosts of MST were far more intelligent and worthy of watching than the movies they reviewed.  

[Photos, May 31, 2011, Squeebee's Mystery Science Theater (MST3K) in Second Life]

Is there a purpose for bad machinima in our society?  What is bad machinima – do we simply feel, intuitively know it, and want to watch it like a bad train wreck.    Do you have some favorite “bad” machinima? 

I would be curious to know what you think they are – those “baaad” machinima – as long as you don’t call attention to some of mine, lol.  I admit I have fun creating some “B” roll machinima – or participating into bad machinima.  

Hmmm, okay, I will share this one made by friend and I one late night for fun while at Innsmouth in Second Life.  I did a serious magazine feature on the Lovecraft-inspired sim in August 2011 for Retropolitan.  The machinima sort of sprang out of just being there; it was impromptu.   It is the time of the season, at least in the USA, for bad machinima:  anything scary that speaks to traditions surrounding Halloween.

All this came to mind when I read the following story:  The Room' Creator Tommy Wiseau To Star In Web Series.  Here’s an excerpt from the article in The Huffington Post:  

From the man who created the worst movie ever made
(and wants to take it to Broadway) comes a video game review show. 
Tommy Wiseau, who produced, directed and starred in The Room,
a cult classic widely regarded as one of the worst pieces of
cinematic trash in history, will now appear in "The Tommy Wi-Show."
(Amy Lee, Huffington Post, 9/21/11;  photo incl.)

The show kicks off September 25th, and it will be featured on the Machinima You Tube channel.   Wiseau will provide commentary on video games “while somehow battling alien forces,” and the teaser promises lots of “infinite amounts of sci-fi insanity” (Lee, 2011):  

In the promo, the only thing Wiseau states is, “I am relevant to your interests.”    His show appears a bit of mixed reality, mug shots of Tommy in real life with some machinima inserts.   

So what does this all mean for machinima?   Perhaps the fact that machinima continues to find identity in pop game culture and our larger cinema industry.   

Let’s be thankful that machinima also has an artistic fan base as well, and we can hope that reviewers with a keen eye for quality machinima will add to the artistic integrity of the genre/format.  Wiseau’s show speaks to a segment of the machinima viewing and making population.   There is room for all.

Please do not misunderstand – I love mystery science theater, and Wiseau’s show might be actually funny and strange enough to ensure a cult following.   My point is that, machinima is a medium that allows expression in many different forms, artistically and commercially.   It is as professional as the producer intends for it to be.   But it can also be as fun as making a home movie or campy sci fi for low brow entertainment.   

The question of whether Wiseau’s feature will contribute to the growth of machinima is not as relevant as the fact that machinima is finding its place (or PLACES) in our pop culture.  It will be interesting to watch how it is perceived in the coming months and years among audiences and the media makers, and how it evolves with and among the various facets of entertainment arts.    

Note the list of advertising slogans, and replace the client name with “machinima.”
Just Do It – Nike
We Move People – Bombardier
What Happens Here, Stays Here – Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority
It's not TV, it's HBO
What Would You Do for a Klondike Bar?
Is it in you? – Gatorade
Ideas for Life – Panasonic
Made from the Best Stuff on Earth – Snapple
Got Milk? – The National Milk Processor Board
Think Outside the Bun – Taco Bell
The Best Part of Waking Up is Folger’s in Your Cup – Folger's
I Live for This – Major League Baseball
Don’t Leave Home Without It – American Express
Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe It’s Maybelline – Maybelline

I am waiting for “Got Machinima?” to be sported on T-shirts everywhere!  And think of what you would look like with a machinima mustache.  Maybe we could feature the likes of Richard Roundtree, Geraldo Rivera, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, Salvador Dali, Charlie Chapin, Groucho Marx and those up and coming machinima stars and producers – maybe Wiseau....
....or even the writer of this blog! 

Machinima – It’s Everywhere You Want to Be.   
Forthcoming, Machinima: The Art & Practice of Virtual Filmmaking (McFarland, Fall 2011) by Sonicity Fitzroy and Lowe Runo (Forward by Persia Bravin). The Professional Machinima Artist Guild graciously provides syndication of Sonicity’s blog Magnum: The Machinima Review to

Amy Lee. (2011, September 21).  The Room' Creator Tommy Wiseau To Star In Web Series.  The Huffington Post,
Pick Your Favorite Advertising Slogan. (2011, September 12). Buzz Feed,
Sonicity Fitzroy. ( 2011, August). The Shadow Over Innsmuth: The Legend Lives On.  Retropolitan Magazine,
Tommy Wiseau. (2011, September 14).,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Extraordinary Universe for Machinimists and Visionary Musicians

I am on a tangent - to see how machinima is being used by a broad spectrum of filmmakers, photographers and laypeople - culturally, technically, and creatively.    Marco Cadioli is a video artist who has experimented with machinima in his latest project.  He is known for taking images from Google Earth, and making creative short pieces.  This time, the Plant Earth is a rotating melon through the use of machinima.  The complete story is available here.

How genius to reconceptualize Earth as a melon through machinima.  Hats off to Marco for introducing many more people to the art and practice of machinima.

There's a whole new universe to explore through machinima.  The DDU - The Duran Duran Universe - launched June 2011, and the visual treats were captured through the artistic lens of machinimist JJccc Coronet.  This self-described "abstract artist" has also been catching a few headlines here and there.  JJ's machinima piece on the steampunk build Petrovsky Flux recently was showcased in New World Notes.  It's an incredible fast moving video, with stunnning images that keeps one engaged throughout.   JJccc has a wonderful keen sense of editing to music and image.  This machinima artist is definitely one to follow.  Two recent works to view are his feature All You Need is Now on the Duran Duran Universe and his interpretation of Lady Gaga's Mother Monster.   This machinimist is a masterful editor and that makes his transitions superb.   What this artist lacks in some minor areas (a few off lip syncs and maybe some of the pieces could be shortened yet would achieve the same effect - I'm being picky picky) is surely compensated by transitions that are fluid.   Music moves the message - cinematically and sonically - forward when done right.   JJccc gets that.

My only pet peeve is for this artist to add credits.  But Machinimist Coronet is not alone there.  Having gone to numerous professional art installations and galleries in RL, I understand that some artists refrain from adding credits, feeling that it takes away from the visual integrity of their piece, preferring to pin an info notecard next to the video monitor.   But it seems machinima, like cinema, as exhibited online on YouTube for example, calls for ending credits to pay tribute to the many people involved in a film.  Machinima has legs and travels everywhere online.  I see it as a mobile video installation.

My side tirade is not intended to take away from the beauty of JJccc's artistic lens. This machinimatographer is definitely an exciting machinimist visually, breathing life into virtual environments, pulsating to the beat of a different drummer, luminating mood with color, texture, lighting, and camera angle, and showing us music machinima can be intense and fun to watch simultaneously.

With Duran Duran's entrance into Second Life, we might anticipate other bands to crossover virtually.   Maybe even Gaga.  In actuality, music like image should transcend our conventions and reach into and extend from our imagination.  For media makers, creativity can be shaped and experienced, but never completely enclosed in any world.  Machinima represents this transcension beyond our Goggle Earth to the larger universe that awaits us beyond an Ordinary World.

For a related article on Duran Duran's visionary and co-founder Nick Rhodes, see the August issue of Best of SL Magazine.  Second Life is a place that offers all to experiment with music, images and motion.  Even those who have already established fame in the mainstream, there is that virtual call toward what is next, what is possible, what if I were to create a new world what would it be like, who would I invite.....

To me, this is the way of machinima, beginning with its backstory of what was, evolving to its capture of what is, and transcending to its cinematic destination of what might be.

You have to look beyond what you see, to understand what is possible.

Sonicity :)

photo credits:
Sonicity Fitzroy - DDU photos:  paparazzi entrance to Club Lipstick, Secret Rehearsal Room (Belinda Barnes), Eye-Shaped Cinema, Lipstick Tower, and press shot (below - DD's Nick Rhodes, DDU's Chrissy Welinder, Lowe Runo and Sonicity Fitzroy) from Nick Rhodes' interview.
Cover image courtesy of Best of SL Magazine and Duran Duran.

Forthcoming, Machinima: The Art & Practice of Virtual Filmmaking (McFarland, Fall 2011) by Sonicity Fitzroy and Lowe Runo (Forward by Persia Bravin). The Professional Machinima Artist Guild graciously provides syndication of Sonicity’s blog Magnum: The Machinima Review to