Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 - A review of the creative side of my life

Following the closure of TMO and the move to TMU in 2008, this was the year I began to take advantage of all the tools and facilities available to me from editing software to video sharing sites and social networks.  Im no longer tied to just one site as my destination for seeing and being seen.  Credit Machinifeed for some of that as its now a daily destination for the thoughts and productions of a varied and dedicated group of peoples.  Also credit both the 2008 and 2009 MachinExpo for opening up my eyes to new platforms, new creators, new ideas and a spirit of inclusiveness that is rarely seen elsewhere (added plus of getting Ptolemy's Blues accepted as a screener at the 2009 Expo..yay!).  

That being said, heres a look at my own movies of 2009

Whitefish - My first real effort using 3rd party editing software (Magix MEP14) ended up something of an unweildy and rambling monster, part by design and part by fault.  The production took forever and as a result lost some of its focus.  Highlights include the train ride via animated overlays and Satan's musical sideshow.  Was it good?  As a narrative story it was a mess, as an idea and a an emotional feeling it hit its mark (imo).  I'd score it out at about 7 out of 10.

Upon finishing this movie I decided not to exceed 8 minutes of runtime in my future features.  Make it tighter was my immediate mantra as seen in....

Travel With Berlitz - Tight, snappy, poppy, travel agent noir with my first dash of Iclone. Even here in its little scene the beauty of iclone shined as I was able to (somewhat successfully) take an idea from my brain to execution without worrying first about the limits of the program (recreating a lost in the bermuda triangle/3D Warehouse scenario).  Also got to work with both leading ladies from TMU (Sisch and Dulci) for the first time.  A fun idea, good execution, highly watchable.  Grades as 8.5 of 10 for me.

Tales from the People Zoo - My next/first full feature foray into Iclone was a little sloppier.  Storyline resembling dadaist sketch comedy (Perhaps I give myself too much credit), some things worked some did not.  As my first Iclone feature it was interesting and ambitious and some of the sketches (the birdwatcher) still make me chuckle.  Ending credits were inspired.  However, it doesn't age as well as I slowly advance my IClone skill.  7.5 of 10.

Sleeper - Asked to include a little something into an elaborate Xmas collaboration (more on this later) this little ditty fulfilled an idea I had been playing with for a long long time.  Specifically that of 2d sets and characters in a 3d world.  The humor is only smirkable but watching the paper flutter to the ground as the result of the toddler suicide bombing is something else entirely. 8 of 10.

TheBiz's House of Horror - Easily my favorite experience working on a production as every major thought or advance was logged in an online production diary that kept me thinking and kept me on track (and gave no thought to the issues of releasing too much info).  Also a totally different concept from a story based production, I basically designed a carnival funhouse from past experience (a realistic one at that), built it from the ground up using sketchup, 3D warehouse and Iclone and then attached a camera to a character and walked him through the sets giving the whole thing a first person perspective and avoiding some of the shortcomings of Iclone; namely the animations.  My most popular production in terms of feedback, it was a big success, timely (hello halloween) and a lot of fun (if you could get past the fact I called it TheBiz's House of Horror...please excuse my ego, he knows not what he names a movie).  Winner winner, chicken dinner.  9 of 10.

Toying Around - A short ad for the video contest.  Took about 2 and a half weeks once I decided on the scenario.  Disgustingly cute and well done.  I really wanted to use the new Ic4 lighting effects here but the flat lighting approach worked best.  Kid Millions loved it to death and I bet it would have faired well in the contest (I do believe it is postponed due to lack of interest..).  8 outta 10 and a boost of confidence about trying out the contest realm.

My Favorites of 2009

TWCS - An Epic collaboration spearheaded by BudBundysMullet and featuring the talents of BBM, 6-HeadedMonster, JohnnyEx, Kwistufa and the uber-talented GoofParade (he's everywhere in this) dedicated to being the raunchiest XXXmas special ever.  It succeeds in the raunch and the humor.  The collaboration parts worked like a well oiled machine thanks largely to the BBM's overarching idea and willingness to leave things open ended and his hard work to glue it all together, not to mention GP's voice on pretty much every skit...hehe.  As mentioned elsewhere, the chipmunks Christmas skit blew my mind.  A fun project (collaborations that work are rare), a great result.

Clockwork - More style than you can shake a stick at.  A nightmare world brought to full realization.  Worthy winner of the 2009 MachiniExpo.

Shelf Life - Most cinema-esque feature I've seen in game based machinima.  Creepy and very, very good.

Push - Like a commercial that is trying to sell you an improved imagination.  I would never have guessed it was made in Second Life.

Other things 2009 and my hopes for the New Year

Comics and Graphic Novels - Starting with a January reading of the Watchmen (my first entry into comics) I managed to collect 15-20 classics of the genre with favorites including ; Asterios Polyp, The Dark Night Returns and The Leaugue of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  Those with a slight interest in finding grown up comix with a boatload of style, vision and sheer art need look no further than Asterios Polyp.  Its an interesting genre with strong ties and similarities to animation that Im hoping to further explore in the new year.

I'm finishing up the year with an interest in film theory, practice and editing techniques.  Reading and thinking a little more about how the story will get told once Ive developed the story itself.  Looking forward to a little self improvement.

Im also really hoping to see some Iclone productions that will challenge some of the wonderful stories that have unfolded in other software (namely MovieStorm as they share so many similarities) such as Daddy is Home, Clockwork and Death in Venice.   I tend to put Coming Home on the same level as those 3 but otherwise the IC productions are a bit lacking in the fully realized story based realm - imo but also a quick look at the 2009 MachinExpo finalists tell the same story.  Not sure if its an issue with the awkwardness of the homemade animations, the editing style that has evolved from the software or what but I have high hopes for the new year.

Ok, I am winded...Have a lovely New Year.


  1. Great post, I'm writing my own in this very vein right now too.

    I, too, am excited to see what comes out of iClone in the coming year too. Apparently, the guys behind Shelf Life are giving iClone4 a serious look after Valve shrugged off their licensing inquiry. I'm currently training in it as well, though what I most look forward to is what will be produced by you folks who have been amassing experience with it for the past year or more.

    What a great time to be doing what we do. Happy New Year to you too.

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