Machinima

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MACHINIMA BEST PRACTICES: PRESERVING VIRTUAL WORLDS THROUGH VIDEO

Machinima offers the ability to create films which implement the best of traditional film making and animation as well as take advantage of this new media format.

ADVANTAGES & BENEFITS

Machinima can be used to:

  • Educate through video tutorials using 3-D animation
  • Memorialize concerts, lectures, conferences, and special events held in Second LIfe
  • Creatively direct, film, and produce animated movies, short films, television shows/series, commericals, and music videos

SHORT FALLS & LIMITATIONS

In Second Life:

  • Animations must be created outside Second Life
  • Limited number of facial expressions that are purchased as part of an animation override (AO) worn as a HUD
  • The best lip synch currently possible is to try to match open and closed mouth positions with the audio
  • A "puppeteer" tool is under development by Linden Lab, which could allow animations to be created inworld
  • Cost; expect to spend $600-$2,000 USD on hardware and between $39.00-$2,300.00 USD for software, or hire a professional company for $80.00-$200.00 USD per movie

to create your own quality videos

OFFICIAL LINDEN LAB ADVICE ON MACHINIMA

ARCHIVAL GUIDELINES FOR AUDIO AND VISUAL MATERIALS

  • The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States of America (NARA)

NARA has published its digital audio recommendations. These include using an "uncompressed lossless codec" and the following acceptable formats: AIFF, WAV, AU, BWF, FLAC, and MPEG4-ALS. NARA's preferred audio is 24 bps and the minimum acceptable is 16 bps. NARA recommends that "all audio should be recorded at a minimum sample rate of 44.1 KHz, although sampling at 96 KHz is encouraged." NARA recommends the following formats for visual materials: AVI, MXF, and MOV and "lossless open codecs such as Motion JPEG 2000 or HuffyUV." When lossless codecs can't be used, NARA recommends MPEG2, MPEG4, DV, and MJPEG2000. "NARA recommends a minimum 720x486 pixels at 30 frames per second." It recommends "8 bits per channel with 10 bits per channel preferred" at 48KHz.

Published guidelines for analog and/or digital audiovisual materials

GENERAL TIPS

  • Set Away timeout to "Never"
  • Set your avatar to "Busy"
  • Use Shift+ALT+F1 and Shift+ALT+H shortcut keys to clear the screen during filming
  • Turn off names and groups above people's heads under the general preferences tab
  • Lower your draw distance
  • Set graphics preferences to Ultra & enable all Shaders (under Advanced) if your graphics card allows this
  • Under graphics preferences/Hardware, enable Anisotropic Filtering and set Anisotropic Flitering to 16x
  • Be aware of your mouse location while recording
  • Record at the highest level possible with your video and audio capture software
  • Best recording formats for original video footage: DV-AVI* and MOV* (expect 1-2 GIG files)
  • Standard recording sizes for the internet: 1024x576 and 1900x1200
  • Best lossless formats for audio: Apple Lossless (ALE, ALAC), AIFF*, SDII, WAV at 44.1 kHz* and a sample size of 16 bits* to 24 bits*
  • Experiment with light and shadow
  • Search for unique and interesting angles
  • Film a complete, seamless scene, when warranted, by remembering the cues "Action!" and "Cut!" used by traditional Directors
  • Aim for smooth shots using inworld camera tools, recording at the right frame rate, and filming in low lag sims
  • For experienced machinima artists, plan ahead: storyboard, build sets, get actors, provide costumes
  • Get to know the many talented music performers in Second Life
  • Capture audio and video separately, then combine during post production
  • Experiment with new features in Second Life, for example, by clicking CTRL+ALT+Q you display the Develop Menu. In it, under Rendering, check the wireframe view or the Render Metadata features
  • In the Develop Menu, enable HTTP textures, as well as Render Animation and Full Rez Textures
  • Create alternate avatars (Alts) if your computer can run more than one version of Second Life at a time; it is possible to log in with multiple avatars and use them instead of hiring actors
  • Make or purchase different skins/shapes to create different "characters" featured in the films
  • For documentaries, a good rule of thumb is for every 1 hour of footage captured, 1 minute will result in final footage
  • Creative pieces may require in-depth editing, re-shoots, and post processing, adding to the time needed to make a quality film
  • Re-filming scenes may be required during the editing stages
  • Blend in photos, create mini-animations with gradual frames like old-fashioned animated cartoons using a free tool like GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/downloads/)
  • Always request permission of a sim owner before filming in their sim
  • Always respect copyright by using material that are either in the public domain, fall under a Creative Commons license, are materials you create yourself, or that you have written permission to use.
  • Always credit people who:
    • Own the sim
    • Create content appearing in the video
    • Appear in the video as avatars
    • Play music or created audio heard in the video

RECOMMENDED HARDWARE

  • Pentium 3 or above CPU
  • DirectX 9.0c or DirectX 10
  • NVIDIA GeForce or ATI Radeon graphics card
  • 512 MB RAM video card

SL EQUIPMENT

SOFTWARE

Video Capture

http://www.pinnaclesys.com/PublicSite/us/Products/Consumer+Products/Home+Video/Studio+Family/Video+Capture+for+Mac.htm

3D Creation

Video Editing, FX, and Post Production

Audio Editing and Enhancement

Audio is half of a machinima presentation. The choice of audio selection and the quality of the recording can make or break a machinima video. Audio is even more important when there is no storyline. More advanced videos will convey a story of some sort. It can be used to help create an impression or mood for the film. Options for voice narration including using one's own voice or employing a voice actor. A poem, story, fairy tale, folk tale, scene from a movie or play, etc. can be narrated in the video as long as it respects copyright law.

SHARE YOUR VIDEOS

On the Internet

YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/

  • Recommended video formats: HD is 1920x1080 (1080p) or 1280 x 720, Codec: H.264 (MP4) or MPEG-2
  • Recommended audio formats: MP3 or Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) preferred, Sample rate: 44.1kHz, Channels: 2 (stereo)
  • Maximum file size and length: Expect up to 2 GIG, 10 mins

iTunes - http://www.apple.com/itunes/content-providers/

AviewTV - http://www.aviewtv.com/

Vimeo - http://vimeo.com/

  • Recommended video formats: HD is 720p, Codec: H.264 (MP4) or WMV3. Their website recommends a frame rate of 25 or 30 fps and a data rate of "2000 kbits/sec for standard definition 4:3 video, 3000 kbits/sec for widescreen DV, or 5000 kbits/sec for high definition footage." Resolutions are "640x480 for standard definition 4:3 video, 853x480 for widescreen DV, or 1280x720 for high definition. It is also best to export 1920x1080 or 1440x1080 video as 1280x720 too, since we will automatically scale it down. If you have the option to control the pixel aspect ratio (not display aspect ratio) make sure it's set to "1:1" or "1.00", also sometimes called 'square pixels.'"
  • Recommended audio formats: Advanced Audio Codec (AAC), Sample rate: 44.1kHz, bit rate of 320 kbps
  • Maximum file size and length: Unknown

IN SECOND LIFE

There are a variety of television merchants in Second Life.

CONTESTS

Enter SL Contests

  • AviewTV - monthly contests, due before the first day of the month. Send notecard with video URL to Sophia Yates or LaPiscean Liberty
  • Imagination Island - monthly contests
  • M.A.G. Awards - yearly contest, for more information, see: http://mag-award-2009.ning.com/
  • MMIF 2010

Enter RL Contests

Archived Contests

LEARN THROUGH NETWORKING

SL Groups

  • MaMachinima
  • Machinimatographers Group
  • Aview TV
  • SL Machinima Artists Guild

Magazines, Blogs & Forums

SL MEDIA COMPANIES AND CONTRACTORS

The going rate to hire a machinima company varies, but is usually between 20,000-50,000 Linden dollars (approximately $80-$200 USD).

FEATURED AND AWARD-WINNING MACHINIMA

Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN9uaAEXnbY

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to thank Cisko Vandeverre, winner of the UWA Challenge 2010 Machinima Award and computer animator with over 30 years of experience, who generously spent two hours talking with me on Skype from Berlin, Germany reviewing my original Second Life note card and offering his comments toward the improvement of these Best Practices guidelines.


©2010 Shannon Bohle (Archivist Llewellyn in Second Life)

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