By Digital Dragon
“Machinima” is a term most commonly used to describe a movie made using a videogame or 3D animation. It is the
former definition I write about now. Recently I helped make a Machinima trailer for the new Paperdragonink production “Guild Academy”. I personally used the game Soul Calibur IV for this trailer but any videogame may be used. Some games
lend themselves better to the cinematic ideal of Machinima however, with the most famous being the Halo Trilogy. The idea behind Machinima is to make either extension into the existing universe or to make a brand new story for a
relatively low production value, especially for the amount of special effects that are easily accessible and usable in most games.
In order to make a Machinima one requires a few necessary pieces of equipment. The most obvious of these is of course the game and the system it plays on. As I’ve said before the Halo series, especially 3, are extremely easy and well suited
to the more dramatic sequences seen in a good Machinima like “Deus Ex Machina”. Halo is the easiest by far thanks to its Forge and Theater modes which allow for easy set creation and easy camera moves and shots without the need for a bulky steady cam. Even though Halo is easy Machinima can be done using any game with some clever editing as evidenced by the Guild Academy trailer. You should choose the game depending on how much effort and time you want to put in as well as what genre movie you wish to make. A good game is but a small part of the whole process of making and showing Machinima.
Another very large and necessary part of the process of making a Machinima is the ability to transfer between the game system and the computer on which you wish to do final editing as well as any file transfer that might be necessary in
order to post it where you want. The easiest way to do this is to purchase a “Capture Card” though they are usually somewhat expensive ranging from around 30 dollars for a pinto version to 400 for a Ferrari equivalent which comes with
a very good movie editing program as well. There are other ways but this is by far the easiest. The way a capture card works is that one simply plugs the video and audio cables from the game system in one end then plug in the other end into the computer. It’s simple enough but it is wise to buy a splitter so that you can still hear and see the game on the TV screen in addition to the
These are all the basic hardware requirements for a Machinima but a good Machinima is more than just the some of the technology that was used to create it. Any good Machinima also has all the makings of a good movie. It must have a dramatic
storyline, believable voice acting, and working camera angles. Don’t think that just because you were able to transfer data from game console to computer you have something special. To stand out from the crowd of other Machinima that has
come out it is necessary to come at the movie with a more Hollywood feel. Trying to bring more dramatic feeling to your Machinima and having a good storyline to back up your camera work will help tremendously in both serious and comedic
Machinima. Another piece of equipment that helps but is not required is a movie editing program which allows you to add special effects that are not available in most games. Machinima is much more complex then it first appears but it is
still a great way to make movies without spending a huge amount of money.