Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Flaws, Epic Fails, and Murphy's Law


I really thought I could do it. Finish a movie I was only halfway done with? No problem. Film a 3 minute short for Halloween on top of it? Piece of cake!


So here I sit with both movies still unfinished and egg on my face. Why?

Several reasons, actually. First is a small laundry list of personal flaws. I bite off more then I can chew. I put the cart before the horse sometimes. I don't plan for things going wrong. And...sometimes when I get really passionate about something I say things without really thinking about what I'm getting myself into...and this is clinically proven to create Epic Fails in laboratory mice!

So I think to myself "Things are going smooth, I should be able to wrap up 'I Zombie" in a couple weeks, and a week of intense work for the Halloween special should wrap things up rather nicely. I think to myself "I'm just going to post a blog announcing this stuff".

No problem. In a perfect world.

Then Murphy's Law takes effect. Yup, you can see this coming.

A scene I was working on, involving about 15 characters (most with guns), 6 police vehicles with flashing lights, all on a large set causes Moviestorm to crawl, and frequently crash (issue resolved with latest release thankfully).

My version of Adobe After Effects starts crashing for no apparent reason. I know I must have changed something in the settings, or maybe it's something else. The only thing I know for sure is I don't know what's causing it. So, some things I intend to do in the movie can't be done until I fix that.

The band I am in (I'm a singer/guitarist) is breaking up, and in October a couple of friends and I had an acoustic jam....and decided to form a new band. So now there is learning new songs, rehearsals, etc. This isn't something going wrong, because music is my original passion, but it does mean no time for movies.

All this happens at the same time, which makes October a huge bust! It's only in the last couple weeks that I can even turn my focus back to movies and blogs and all that great stuff.

You know, I really should have known better then make that announcement. Lessons are repeated until they are learned, and just in time for the new year I think I've learned a few.

1) One thing at a time.
2) Don't announce a movie until it's in Post-Production, or until it's done...either way, make sure it's firm that I can deliver.
3) Know when to keep that mouth shut.
4) Always plan for Mr. Murphy and his blasted law.

With all that said, I make it my New Year's Resolution to follow these lessons. I also resolve to actually complete I Zombie in 2010! And who knows...maybe I'll make other things too!

But don't quote me on it ;)

I hope you all have a wonderful new wishes!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis Better to Give

So Moviestorm announces a Holiday Movie Contest, and this being my favorite time of year, I couldn't resist entering.
After 1 1/2 weeks of intense ranting and wrangling, I've put together what I think is a pretty good movie. At nearly 17 minutes long, this is a story with a very important holiday message.

Here is the description:

Michelle is very naughty. After a big snow storm, she finds a snowman has mysteriously appeared in her yard, and before the holiday is done she learns a very important lesson.

This movie contains no dialogue. I've attempted to tell the story through gestures, music, and the expressions of the characters.

This is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Shar​e Alike 3.0 license.

The last time I made a movie this long (with the sims) it took me 6 months! The production of this movie was a whirlwind affair, so if you see any glaring flaws (I didn't), please bear that in mind ;)

You can check it out at TM Underground and at the Moviestorm site under featured movies...but if you don't feel like going to those places to see it, I've embedded a flash version of the movie on the main page of my site.

I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday, and my best wishes to you and yours for 2010!

Oh, and I'll post about my Epic fail over releasing those movies in October in the next few days here ;)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On leaving Sims99

As some of you may know, since 2006 I was a moderator on Sims99. During that time I put forth a lot of effort with my fellow mods to make the site friendly, welcoming, helpful, informative, and fun. From the time I joined that site all through my time as a mod, I've always felt that the 99 community was one of the nicest and closest communities I have ever seen on the internet.
Sims99 is where I got my start in machinima, so I was always both happy and honored to do what I give back to a community that has given me so much.
Recent events have caused me to leave Sims99. Recent events since my resignation have reinforced the reasons I decided to go. That's all I want to say about it.
To the 99ers, thank you for all the good times and love you have given me. I hope during my time as a mod I've done right by you, and I have nothing but the deepest regard for every one of you. I'm sure I'll see you around, we know where to find each other ;)
I hope that 99 gets back on it's feet soon and continues to be the premiere Sims2machinima site on the net :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

October to be a big month for Dark Lord Productions...

Due to a recent bout of hecticosity in life, I've been forced to postpone the release date of "I, Zombie" until sometime in October...which is fine with me, since it seems to be better suited for the Halloween season anyway.
As soon as I have a solid release date planned, I will let you know :)

In the meantime, I am also working on another October release, coming out on Halloween. This short will be the continuing adventures of our young alien hero, Gronk, where he introduces The Commander to another Earthling holiday.

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oops! I let out a secret on "The Ken and Roger Show!"

I'm sure someone out there read that title and read this blog just hoping to catch some dirty laundry lol
I did let out a secret that I've been keeping on the show, but before I get to that I just want to comment on the show itself.

First, I had a lot of fun! We talked for near an hour and a half, but it certainly didn't feel like it. Ken and Roger are very good at making you feel right at home, and not only do I give them kudos for being such good hosts, but I also have to say I've walked away from the experience not only happy with how it went, but with the solid impression that they are both genuinely good people!

Now, say that last sentence ten times without taking a breath!

Thank you again, Ken and Roger! It was a really good time :)

Now I suppose I should release that secret, but not yet.

See, I have to tell you about this site I went to after the interview. It's called TMU Theater and it is not only a great idea, but done in a very cool way.

TMU Theater is a site that streams video, machinima in particular, and has a chat room, but what sets it apart from similar sites like you would find on Justin.TV and the like is the atmosphere of the place.

It has the look and feel of a "real" theater, even to the extent that they show trivia on the movie screen with music in the background until the show starts, along with moviemaking tips and other relevant bits of information.

I won't tell you about the aesthetics of the site itself, since you'll see for yourself when you go there (you are going there, aren't you?), but it is obvious that the site's creators have gone through great pains to create a true movie viewing experience, and I think they've done so brilliantly!

While I was there I had the pleasure of seeing the premieres for two wonderful movies...first was "Complication" by Dulci and then "Fixin' To Go" by act3scene24. They are both excellent films, and I highly recommend you go and see them after you finish this blog post ;)

Now the secret, since I put it off long enough. After all it really isn't very polite of me to try your patience in such a way. Really! You came all this way to hear a secret, and here I am just babbling on and on and-

Oh. Right.

So the secret then.

As anyone who has followed this blog or visited my site recently may know, I've been working on a new project, and have posted teaser pics on my main site (missed them? See them here.), but I have been keeping details and the title all to myself.

Yeah, I'm greedy that way.

Anyway, during the show, Ken got me talking about the project and asked what the title was, and so I told him. He's a sly little devil, that one ;)

So there it is. The secret is out.

Ok, ok....for the benefit of those of you who missed the broadcast, I'll just leave you with this final teaser:

Friday, September 11, 2009

This sunday on "The Ken and Roger Show"...

I have been invited by Roger from "The Ken and Roger Show" on TMOA to go on their show this sunday to discuss my movies.

It should be a real fun time, and I look forward to it.

The show is broadcast from 2pm - 7pm EST (GMT-5) on . I will be on sometime between 4pm - 5:30pm.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thy Neighbor

As many of you know, I used to make machinima with The Sims 2, until learning about Moviestorm and eagerly switching to that software.

Over the past several months I have been telling people about the potential of Moviestorm, and some people were interested, some were dismissive of it.

It's really hard to describe the potential of a tool using visual media, because let's face it, the key word is "visual" here. In this instance, it is really necessary to show the potential then try to put words to it.

Along comes a movie called "Thy Neighbor", directed by well-known machinima director Phil "Overman" Rice. Although this piece is only a little under 3 minutes long, every second of it is packed with brilliant insight into the potential of this software.

Lighting, cinematography, set design, animation, camera movement, acting and composition all merge in this piece to become something that can easily stand next to anything Hollywood can produce. Watching this movie both inspires and excites me about the future of machinima via Moviestorm, and it also does a bit to humble me, knowing that bar has been raised so wonderfully.

I highly recommend you watch this movie. You can watch it here.

And if you would like to take a shot at making movies that look this stunning, go to the Moviestorm website and download the free base package!

The future of machinima looks better then ever, and thank you Phil for bringing that home to me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sometimes you've just gotta....

Production of my latest eyesore is going rather splendidly, and I'm pretty much right on track for release at the end of August.

But sometimes, you just don't want to do it. Sometimes, you'd rather do other things. For the last few days I've been doing just that.

See, I've recently gotten Adobe After Effects, and spent several days watching tutorials on how to actually use the thing lol! It's a powerful tool, and I've been using it with this movie. I have to say, it is making a huge difference in how the movie looks, and I am able to add so many things that otherwise I would never been able to do.

So, after all that, I got so excited that I had to jump right into using it! As a result, I've practically stopped production to do post-production work on the footage I already have: titling, compositing, special effects, all that good eye candy!

Now that I think of it, maybe I'm not so on track for a late august release! I'm really only about halfway through the whole production bit....but I'm using Moviestorm, and production can go pretty quick with that (looks over at what he's doing with AE) so I don't think it will (tinkers with AE some more) be too much of a hassle.

Once this movie is done, though, I think this will be the most polished, "professional" movie I have ever made! Coupled with what I think is a killer script, I think you will greatly enjoy this flick!

....when it's done :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Production Notes.

If you feel like humoring me, let me bore you with some babbling about production of the new movie so far I am working on.

First, this is my first true Moviestorm movie (I don't count Christmas, I don't really know why), and it is the first movie I've made that I actually (gasp) wrote a script for! The scary thing is, the script is really, really good! But now, that's just added pressure to make a movie that lives up to the script!

Production is going very smoothly so far! I have almost half of it made already (the easy half, of course), and I really am getting into how quickly and easily you can get down and dirty with Moviestorm.

BTW, the working title for the new movie is "Grummmm, Snort, MRAAAAHHHH!!!!!!" If I tell you why, it will spoil the fun, let alone the secret.

In another first, I am using "other people" to do voice work for this movie. I've always been adverse to doing so, worried that it would be too much of a hassle trying to get the performance I want out of someone who I didn't have ability to immediately communicate with, so I always just did it myself (i.e. I was a control freak perfectionist, a.k.a. a silly man).

But so far, so good! I've gotten some work from Ashley, who goes by the name AutumnRain on the net, and she got the voices to me on the same day! And they were pretty good to boot! When I contacted her with a new line I had just written into the script, she not only got them to me the same day, but gave me multiple takes to choose from! She took my direction very well, and each take was great, which made choosing one so much harder! So, if you need a female voice and you're over on Sims99, ask her to act for you!

I've also guilted my friend CrystalWitchery to give voice to a crucial part! I won't spoil it, but she is the star of the show, and I know she is really looking forward to being in the spotlight ;)

Also, my wife is going to do some VA as well, and I love it! She gets to do what is going to be a cameo role, and only fans of a certain video game will get the reference.

And of course, I'll be doing most of the rest of the voices because, well, I'm a silly man.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Upgrading...just about everything!

When I was finishing the new design of my website, I renewed my commitment to machinima, with the goal that I was always going to be at least currently working on a movie. No more sitting for several months until I got around to it. Let me tell you, I'm pretty damn excited about that!
As I sat and pondered this, I realized I really wanted to expand my avenues, put my movies out there more and participate in a bigger part of the machinima world, but more importantly I realized I wanted things all-around to be more professional, more recognizable. Not just my movies, but how they are done and how they are presented.

This meant several things, and one of them was to try to make all my "official" Dark Lord Productions accounts throughout the internet have as consistent as a look as possible.
I've been working on that, and if you look at my youtube and myspace accounts, as well as my Sims99 forum profile, you will see that they do share the same general look and feel.
The others, well, I'm still working on that, and in some cases it just can't be done....yet.
More importantly, though, is upgrading the tools I use to make the movies themselves.
First on the list is getting a new microphone for voicework. Currently I am using this cheap, skinny Logitech mic that is basically the most frustratingly agonizingly brutally bad microphone I have ever used. I've settled on a really nice, high-quality mic, and as soon as it comes in stock (and once the funds are appropriated) it shall be mine!

Oh yes, it shall!

Also on the plate in upgrading my editing software so I can export my movies in HD.
I also want to be able to distribute my movies as avi and mov files, rather then just the wmv fare. The trick is getting all the proper codecs that work with my editing software and give a reasonable file size. No luck so far.

Then after all of that, I hope to finish my home recording studio. Extra PC plus Sonar plus cool drum machine program plues a PodXT Live for my guitars equals recording original songs.....take that and add a nice Korg keyboard, and we're talking original movie scores!

But alas, that is quite a ways off! But at any rate, hopefully in the near future I will be releasing movies with better sounding vocal work, all in HD and 5.1 surround sound!

Oops! Did I mention the surround sound? Ignore that, it's a secret and part of a bigger plan ;)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A new movie is under way!

Now that the main part of my web site is done, it's time to start doing what all of this is all about...making movies.

Some of you may know that I have been working quite a bit with Moviestorm, and since I started using it I have come up with all sorts of ideas!
I'm just tired of making movies with Sims games. Let's face it, despite all of it's charms and how brilliantly it works for machinima, it is very time-consuming, and more often then not it's just an all-around pain in the butt.
Because of that, I never really could keep up with my ideas using the sims, since it would simply take too much time that I didn't have to spare. The same movie made with Moviestorm would take less then half the time.

So, long story short, it will be a very busy time for me, since for now it seems my sporadic moviemaking activity of the past is over! I look forward to being an active moviemaker again!

I am currently working on a new movie which will effectively count as a re-launch of my moviemaking "career"...details are under wraps right now, but I think the script is killer and the movie will be a lot of fun!

As production progresses, new information will be posted here and on the preview page of my web site....stay tuned!

Tentative release date will be in August 2009, so I better get cracking!

Enjoy :)

Welcome to the Dark Lord Productions Blog!

Hello there!
If you're reading this, that means that after what seems like forever I have finally finished my web site! Check it out here!
Once weekly, this blog will contain new information about new projects I am working on, news about the web site, and/or news about machinima in general.
I hope you like the site, and stay tuned right here for more cool stuff!