Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vol. 3 of 'Making Better Movies..." Released, and other Moviestorm News.

Moviestorm has released Volume 3 of their excellent "Making Better Movies With Moviestorm" e-book series, written by Matt Kelland.
If you missed my last blog post, this series is a great asset for all filmmakers that gives you exercises to find and improve your own style, without imposing any preconceived rules or attitudes.
Volume 3 concerns sound and lighting, and as usual the content is both revealing and instructive.
If you've been using these ebooks to improve your skills, then this volume is a worthy addition. If you haven't checked out this series yet, then I heartily recommend it. It's free and it's good. What more could you want?

Download Volumes 1 - 3

In other Moviestorm news, it was announced on the company's Dev Blog that they are aiming for an early December release of Moviestorm 1.5 , which is loaded with a great many new features and enhancements. Soon after the release, the much-anticipated Swordfighting pack will be released, along with a pack themed on Indian culture (as in India, not Native Americans).

More on these as they are released. Exciting!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Moviestorm releases second second free netbook, "Making Better Movies With Moviestorm, Vol 2"

I like to think after making a few movies that I have a little understanding of the art of doing so. Not necessarily an expertise, except maybe on my more delusional days, but a bit of understanding that allows me to make something that passes as good film.
But I'm always looking to improve and learn, and I often read articles that analyze the styles of other directors and different techniques that can be used. Helpful, to be sure, but never presented in a way that allows me to easily understand the "whys" of each technique.

That's why I love the new net-books written by Matt Kelland and released for free by Moviestorm. They're easy to get through and understand, but more importantly they give concise, easily digestible explanations about the techniques. Better still, it's real mechanic of getting you to understand technique is by giving you scenarios and having you film them in many different ways, then making comparisons and drawing your own conclusions. This method allows you to both understand how to perform a technique and why you would use it, but more importantly does so without stifling you with the notion of imitating someone else. On the contrary, it allows you the freedom to create, explore, and expand your own style and technical palette.
And that is a good thing for any artist, even those who think they know something.

Go now and get Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, then click on the fancy banner on the right to get Moviestorm. I guarantee you will improve your art.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Camera got you down?

All too often I see machinima movies that contain weird camera issues that never appear in professional films. They are annoying in a sense, not only because they are blatantly obvious and easy to fix, but because they immediately take me out of the story and tend to lose interest (which is a big oopsie if you are looking for views, and who isn't?)
I've never been able to name them, and describing them often was more of frustrated grunts and groans then anything.
But Kate Fosk over at MachinExpo managed to do both quite nicely, giving great advise with a great sense of humor. Even if you're an experienced director, it's worth checking out:

Kate Fosk on Machinima Camera Problems

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Star Wars Fan-Fic archived online!

Those who know me know I'm a pretty big Star Wars fanboy. Yes, I tend to quote the movies a lot, have several comics, novels, collectibles, etc. littered throughout my house. I believe there may even be a photo of myself playing pattycake with my youngest daughter (around 2 years old at the time) while I was wearing a Darth Vader mask. Did I mention the same daughter when she was even younger had a onesie with a picture of Darth Vader and the quote "Who's Your Daddy?" on it?
Yup, big-time fanboy.
Back around 2005, in excited anticipation of the imminent release of "Revenge of the Sith" I was spending a lot of time on the forums the Star Wars web site, speculating on what the final movie may bring, the finer points of each movie and their characters...you know, fanboy stuff.
Anyway, along the way I met a few like-minded individuals and we developed friendships among us that carry on to this day. We had similar tastes and POVs, but we were a literal rogues gallery of personalities, the sith (myself), the jedi (Aaron Sinner aka Ki-Aaron-Mundi), the mercenary (Erick Osuna, aka N11ORDO), the rogue (Tim Dunlap aka Echo7Solo), and the soldier (Enver Klychak aka KilledBeforeAction of KBA for short). We called ourselves, fittingly, the Rogues Gallery, and we would choose topics we would become engaged in and pretty much take it over, debating with each other (and occasionally against) in an effort to show the other fans there, well, what made sense and what didn't, why we were right, etc.
All in good fun, and we did have fun! We soon expanded our correspondence to emails and phone calls. One year we exchanged gifts during Christmas.
After the movies release we had some questions that we debated, like who was Darth Plagueis the Wise, how did Palpatine become a sith...you know, hardcore fan questions. We also wanted to keep having fun and were seeking ways to do it.
Somebody (don't remember who, I think it was Aaron) sent us an email with a couple paragraphs of a story (they are the first paragraphs in the fan-fic, but I'll get to that), and next thing you know each of us had devised a character and were taking turns, back and forth, adding to the story.
Before long we had a pretty good fan story that added a lot of answers and kept a few mysteries.
Every fanboy is familiar with a site called TheForce.net, a great archive of both canon material (from the films) and Expanded Universe material (from the novels, games, etc.), and they also archive fan fiction.
Aaron began the process of getting our fan-fic archived, submitting it, coordinating with the test readers on the site, and taking their feedback and letting the rest of us know what they had to say. Aaron did a lot of rewriting, I added some new ideas, proofread for continuity and did some rewriting, and Erick did the cover art (Erick is an artist and founder of Urban Myth Studios.)
Today I got the email that all the work payed off, and the story is now online for all to enjoy. Take a read, I hope you like it!

Dark Side Rising

It's a fun, dark story that fills in some holes from the movies, uses some EU (expanded universe material), and shows our love for a galaxy far, far away. It's something we're all quite proud of, and we hope you like it.
Special thanks to Aaron for getting the ball rolling, keeping it rolling, and being the driving force.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Moviestorm staff are such teases!

Although many have felt that the relative quiet (in terms of updates and new official content) over at Moviestorm Towers was a bad omen for the future of the software, recent posts in their development blog indicate that anyone's fears could not be further from the truth.
Today, our intrepid heroes posted another look into a long-awaited content pack that is finally nearing release, the sword fighting pack.
From the Dev Blog:

"The last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting here at Moviestorm Towers, with the checklist of bugs and features for the next version of Moviestorm being slowly crossed off.
One major piece of functionality that we've been promising for a while is the ability for two characters to interact with one another whilst using held props. Moviestorm uses animation blending to fill in the gaps between poses so that the characters don't "snap" from one pose to another, but when a character moves out of position and has to blend back to "Idle" all sorts of horrible things happen. Add the extra complexity of held props claiming a characters joint resources and the system often gets confused ...
Well, the times are a-changin'.
The code is now in place to support the Fantasy Swords pack (among others), meaning that held prop activities can be used to their full potential!"

Obviously, this will eventually open new doors in storytelling and content development.
Along with this bit of information, there was posted a teaser video of the swordfighting content. What little they show us leaves me eager in antici-


I know I've said it before, but it looks like exciting days ahead for Moviestorm users.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chronicles of Humanity

In case you didn't know about this incredible series, "Chronicles of Humanity" is something you simply must see.
"Set in the year  2340, The Chronicles of Humanity follows
Katherine  McDonald,  A journalist and the  only person to
survive  the  destruction  of  a  mining  colony.

Convinced the  government is  behind the  disaster,  she
embarks  on a mission to uncover the  conspiracy."

The series is both visually stunning with an incredible story. It also boasts an impressive cast, including the well-known talents of Rick Grove and Ingrid Moon, and also Felicia Day.
Yes, that Felicia Day.

Check out the site and watch some episodes. I guarantee you will be impressed.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Upcoming new feature of Moviestorm unveiled.

Today at the Moviestorm Dev Blog, the fine folks there shared a video showing the results of playing around with the nearly-developed Terrain Editor. According to the Dev Blog:

"The user interface has now been decided for this feature and the functionality is around 90% complete so it's time to move onto the other areas of improvement. Keep your eyes peeled for more updates!"

On the forums, more information was given, such as*:

  • The default mountains are now editable with the new tools so you can keep them if you want or edit them to produce a new landscape.
  • (The staff) have been experimenting with a larger grid, and have plans to include it in the next version of Moviestorm. It's worth noting that nav meshes can be used in conjunction with the terrain to make navigable areas outside of the grid if you like.
  • Characters are still, unfortunately, restricted to navigating on flat surfaces. However, characters are able to traverse stairs with nav meshes, so you could place a nav mesh under the terrain to make it look like that character was climbing a hill.
  • The terrain editor can only be used on the existing terrain mesh (which is relatively large anyway.
  • The terrain tools include a raise brush, a lower brush and tools to flatten, smooth and paint textures.
  • The terrain will ultimately be saved in stock sets for use by directors and as an example of what is possible with the new editor.

Here is the video:

Looks exciting! This certainly will open up new doors in set design, and the ability to flatten the entire terrain mesh will be of great benefit to those who wish to create more complex sets (such as a cityscape). Stay tuned!

*I largely quoted Amos over at Moviestorm, which explains the better prose. Anyway, the tool is still in development, and all things mentioned may change.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where is Sigourney Weaver when you need her?

Writerly over at the Moviestorm forums is on a roll lately. I don't know if it's insane ambition and talent or one too many cups of coffee, but he's been releasing new mods for the program almost daily, and these are some excellent mods!

The latest is the Alien from the "Alien" movie franchise. The troublesome terror is rigged to the male puppet rig, which means you can use all the male animations with it (though some just don't look right because of the shape and size of the alien relative to his meal). It looks particularly impressive if you use it with the vampire jumping animation from the "Dark Romance" addon from Moviestorm and some of the action animations found on Moddingstorm.

You can download it here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Gift

The latest short by Chat Noir Studios, "The Gift" is an excellent work (as expected from them), and also shows how effective Moviestorm is as a storytelling tool when in good hands.
Have a look!

The Gift from Chat Noir Studios on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moddingstorm's "Stupidly Easy Competition"

Really, how much easier of a competition can you get?
Moddingstorm is running a "Stupidly Easy Competition". Winner gets three free addon packs for Moviestorm from Moddingstorm!
So how stupidly easy is it? Simple.
All you have to do is visit Moddingstorm's facebook page and click like.
That's it.
Two weeks from today, a name will be chosen at random from the list of people who like the page, and the winner gets the three packs! You get extra chances to be drawn by promoting the competition on your own facebook page, blogs, site, etc.
You do need to prove you've done this by posting links in the competition's thread on the Moviestorm forums.
There is one disclaimer: The headgear bundle pack currently offered counts as two packs since its, well, a bundle!
If you haven't seen Moddingstorm's content yet, check it out. It's all top-quality! And if you aren't using Moviestorm yet, maybe this is a good time to start!
Check it out!
Oh...and while you're over on facebook, don't forget to "like" Dark Lord Productions if you haven't already ;)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Messiah Studio for $10-$40!

The software company pmG Worldwide is conducting a viral test marketing campaign by selling their award-winning animation/rendering engine Messiah Studio 5 for an incredibly low price.

There are two options for purchase, the first being a limited-feature basic edition for $10 (regularly priced at $499), and the full pro version for $40 ($1195 regular price).

The offer works as follows. The offer is set for a limited time. They have set a goal for the number of sales. You purchase the software as a pre-order. If the goal is met in within the time limit, you get the software. If the goal is not met on time, you get refunded your money.

The viral part is simple. In order to meet the goal as quickly as possible, you are encouraged to share this with as many people as possible.

Messiah Studio is a high-profile animation and rendering engine that has won several awards and even received an Academy Award nomination. It has been used for character animation and the creation of VFX shots in a number of feature films and shorts, including the following, such as the Harry Potter films, X-Men, Ghost Rider, Hellboy, Syriana, and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It has also been used in a number of television productions, including The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Robbie the Reindeer, Andy's Airplanes and the upcoming Plankton Invasion, as well as numerous commercials.

If you are interested in getting into some hardcore professional studio-quality animation, this is an incredible offer that is too good to pass up. At this price, it's worth getting even if you do nothing more then try to learn something from it.

You can participate in this campaign by going here:


There is plenty of information on their web site, but if you want to learn more you can read about them on wikipedia:


So go get it, and let everyone know!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Grey People

I'm happy to announce that I have been cast for the role of Special in the independent animated film "The Grey People", a sci-fi epic directed by D.L. Watson.
D.L. Watson is a talented and respected director who makes independent animated films (or machinima, depending on how you wish to view it) and live-action films.
For this movie, he will be using Moviestorm and iClone4 for the project, and after reading through only part of the script so far I think this is going to be an incredible movie. Having seen a test shot released a long time ago on the Moviestorm website, this movie looks to be visually stunning as well.
The film is tentatively scheduled to be released around June 2011. Once a date is set and announced I will share that with you here as well.
In the meantime, learn more about the project by visiting its Official Website.
You can also follow the film on Facebook. Don't forget to click "Like"!
Oh, and while you are on Facebook, don't forget to check out the Dark Lord Productions Facebook page....and click that "L" button while you're at it!
In other news, I am hard at work on a new movie myself! More details as the project progresses. Stay tuned!