Something Old, Something New…
Been trawling through Facebook today to spy on some old friends and see what they are getting up to these days.
Phil Rice: aka “Overman”. You all know Phil, he’s been around forever, through the good times and through the bad times, and amazingly is still making movies, (Zarathustra Studios), helps run a Machinima podcast, is probably engaged in about twenty music projects, and has a large family! What’s your secret Phil, where do you get all that energy? (Are you on drugs? But seriously, go and talk to your wife, she won’t bite!). Phil Rice
Ricky Grove: Ricky has been around even longer than Phil?! (Btw great picture Ricky, I hope I look as good as you when I’m your age!) But besides his famous voice-acting, and perhaps even more importantly, his help and encouragement to many budding film-makers has been invaluable and we all should be eternally grateful to him for that. Ricky Grove
Tom Jantol: What can I say? I was blown away when I first saw his “Anymations” in 2004 and am still blown away by them now! (Yes, I’m the sad person making all the repeat-clicks.) “Quirky” doesn’t do them justice, “Quirky on Steroids” (sorry Tom, I hope that doesn’t stick!) is closer, but they are also mesmerising and thought-provoking. Tom Jantol
Britannica Dreams: Last, but by no means least, I must not forget the ladies, and what ladies! Brilliant, talented and incomparable, what more can you ask for? Michelle was a massive help and encouragement to me in getting mprem on it’s feet (she knows a floundering lame-duck when she sees one!), and keeping it there once it was up. They don’t have a Facebook page but you can watch them in the Machinima Archive collection. (Click on the “Sims” folder then “Britannica Dreams” folder.) Download and watch them all, then watch them all again!
I’m only going to give a few examples of new movies here and the first is Phil Rice’s “Obit” made with “Red Dead Redemption.” It’s a new HD video on “Vimeo”‘, and here is the YouTube version,
The second is 8-BIT BASTARD who make movies eg,
and nature documentaries eg, Into The Deep,
in various games such as GTA5, Red Dead Redemption2 and Fallout4.
I may be completely wrong in what I’m going to say. After all I haven’t been an active participant for 14 years so have no authority, it’s just one persons opinion. But I have always been an active and interested supporter, from the side-lines. (And there is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone wants to make movies. But most people enjoy watching movies.) Since the days of mprem I have had a “Machinima” news feed in my email, so any major events in the Machinima world (usually) land in my in-box sooner or later. So, to continue the football analogy, (something you will have to put up with if you come here, as football, the soccer version, is another one of my passions!) I suppose this is more of a spectators view than a players, at least in recent years.
Machinima became incredibly popular in the last 10 years, probably far more so than any of us would have imagined 15-20 years ago. (Although popularity alone is never a good measurement of anything.) But it also took a massive nose-dive in the “crash” of 2019. When I began this project a few weeks ago, after re-discovering my old DVD collection, it was more with the intention of creating a historical archive that people could enjoy and dip into when they felt like it. But over the last few days, and thinking about it more deeply, I think there may be an incredible opportunity here. When I began mprem, (big reveal now, which I think I have only ever told to Michelle!?), it was never with the intention of creating a major Machinima website, because machinima.com was already serving that purpose. I had only discovered m.com less than a year before and movie-making had become my primary computer hobby, mprem was just meant to be a side-hobby for when I was bored with Machinima. And Machinima was an obvious choice of subject, as my foremost hobby at the time. For some reason I also became interested in what is involved in creating and running a website. But I only expected it to last for about a year, have about 20 or 30 members, mostly friends and family, then I would shut it down once I had learnt the ins and outs of websites. How wrong I was!
So what’s the big opportunity? By co-incidence, a kind of “happy accident” happened precisely when mprem went live and that was m.com going “commercial”. That sent a lot of unhappy customers to mprem and the site took off. We soon had over 2000 unique-visitors a day, which I thought was pretty good for a “side-hobby”. But an unintended consequence was that movie-making had to take more of a back seat, as maintaining the site was now taking most of my computer time. I don’t actually regret that. The Movie of the Month competitions, the annual Online Machinima Film Festivals (OMFF), (in a virtual theatre one of the mprem members had built in Second Life), and all the other activities were a lot of fun and I look back on that time with a good deal of affection. But after about 4 years it did begin to grow a bit stale, and as many core members were also moving on to other things, I let it wind down then closed it. After that I decided to concentrate more on music and other hobbies and Machinima became more of a passive interest. With hindsight it would have been better to have given over the general running of the site to moderators and me just concentrating on the technical stuff. That way there would have been more fresh input and it would have been less time-consuming than trying to do every thing myself.
So, back to the point, the “big opportunity”? Maybe the crash of 19 was also a “happy accident”? Maybe there is an opportunity here to have a serious think about the past, learn from the mistakes, and this time around build the foundations of something that will last not just twenty years but 200 or 2000 years, so that future generations can enjoy the things we enjoy now. I know that there is a committed and experienced core at the heart of the Machinima community, that has always been there, and are in fact the ones who keep it all going, through the bad times and the good times. But none of us are getting any younger and that core will have to be replenished with a younger generation of Machinima makers who are equally committed. Tracy from completelymachinima has just asked me what my vision for the future would be? That is a difficult question to answer as I can see many possible futures. But the future I would most like to see is that Machinima returns to the days of it’s youth when it was exciting, energetic and optimistic! And only the younger generation can do that authentically, with the help and guidance of the older generation.
Oh dear, this has turned from a simple News post into a discussion on the “meaning of life” or at least Machinima life, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing! So in the same vein I want to make one last point. Machinima is often viewed as a kind of “tainted” art form, ie “people stealing other peoples art work so they can pretend to be artists themselves”. I’m exaggerating a bit here to make a point, but that undercurrent is definitely there. There are so many things I could say about this, we would be here all day, so I’ll try and get to the main points. Firstly we all “stand on the shoulders of giants”. No art pops out of thin air, it all, without exception, depends on what went before. Secondly, my favourite quote from StrangeCompanys Creative Commons page, “Sharing is not Stealing!”. If it was up to me, the whole Internet would be “Open-Source”, and then this question wouldn’t even arise. People think Linux is some kind of odd-ball system that only geeks can understand and in a sense it is, if you mean it requires a level of commitment if you want to understand and get any benefit from it. But what many don’t realise is that there wouldn’t even be an Internet if not for Linux! Every server in the world, bar one, runs on Linux (as does NASA and many other large organisations and systems, mobile-phones, the Mac family, etc etc), at least that was the case about 10 years ago when I was looking at this, and I doubt if things have changed much. (And by Linux I mean the Linux-Unix open-source family). There is a very good reason for this. Not only is Linux free but, even more importantly, it has no viruses, zero , zilch, nought, nothing, absolute zero, none!! Msoft – tens of millions!!! That alone speaks volumes. They are not even in the same ball-park!
One last point, I’m going to let you into a big secret. Most small children love to draw and paint and it’s not difficult to understand why. They are enjoying that God-like feeling of creating. For some reason as we get older we lose that precious ability for innocent pleasure and I think the reason for that is this. We begin to compare ourselves with the Mozarts, Raphaels, and Joe Bloggs of this world, and realising we can never be like them we give up. And that is completely wrong. You were never meant to be them, you were always meant to be you. Your art is no better, or worse, than anyone else’s, but it is unique to you and your fingerprints are all over it. (Don’t forget to wash your hands afterwards!) Besides, do the “Art Critics” even know what they are talking about? Vincent Van Gough didn’t sell a single painting his whole life, (except to his brother, which doesn’t count), yet now he’s meant to be one of the greatest painters that ever lived!? What’s going on there? And with all their blank canvasses, pickled cows, unmade beds etc it’s clear to me they don’t know their A. from their E. My advice is to ignore them. They are blind-guides, gate-keepers who won’t enter themselves so are trying to prevent you from entering. So never let anyone tell you anything different. They are just trying to sell you down the river, and take from you what is rightly yours!
As I said above, this is one persons opinion and experience and I’m sure many have different experiences and opinions and if so I would love to hear from you?
“All alone, or in two’s,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.
And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it’s not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger’s wall.” – Roger Waters.