Having started out a as fan scene of Quake videos, machinima has evolved into an art form recognized by the game and film community. Call it video game movies or a form of emergent gameplay, machinima is filmmaking using real-time video game visuals in 3D with off-the-shelf software. Because of its accessibility, machinima has become the cheap and popular way to create narratives in 3D environments, which previously would have not been possible without legions of animators or render farms. Machinima’s mainstream exposure includes “Red vs. Blue,” recently featured at Sundance, and South Park “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode, which was partially animated in machinima.
The second annual Machinima Festival took place on November 4 -5 at The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. The museum, which archives film and media artifacts, has become a major East Coast resource of digital art. The two-day festival featured panels and workshops on the state and future of machinima, and screenings of the festival entries. Panel topics covered rendering technologies, legal and copyright issues, and artistic content. Special events included a live machinima improv with the Ill Clan, developer workshops, and the Mackies awards ceremony simulcast in Second Life.
The event attracted machinima makers (or 'machinimakers') from around the world. Most are artists, filmmakers, activists, or gamers, or any combination of the above. While many fell into machinima out of necessity, today some are using machinima for its particular game aesthetic, as well as combining it with traditional filmmaking and animation. With in-game software and support from Linden, machinima making is becoming more popular in Second Life as well.
While most machinima works have a reputation of being gamer fan videos and gag humor, the festival's films hoped to challenge that notion, with content spanning fiction, reenactments, talk shows, political advocacy, and experimental pieces.
What follows is Gamasutra's full coverage of the 2006 Machinima Festival, including panel reports, a run-down of the winners of the 2006 Mackie Awards, and interviews with two of the most recognized practitioners of the form, This Spartan Life's Chris Burke, and Trash Talk's Matt Dominianni.