Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Tutorial dropping

Importing videos from DVD into Adobe Premiere for editing purposes

Photoshop VTF export - For exporting textures so they can be read by the Source engine, which has been a temperamental nuisance so far. Unreal seems like a breeze in comparison.

So lately I've been doing lots of video editing, splicing together footage from different engines to make it seem like the same one. This way we can use the great environments of Source with the ease of use and versatile lip sync of Moviestorm.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Second Life Analysis

We're finished with the initial game engine explorations, so here are my findings on Second Life, which we've thankfully decided to abandon.

Second Life is a popular game engine to use for machinima, and this is encouraged by the Second life creators, Linden Labs.
However, second life is not very easy to use for machinima purposes. A lot of the problems reflect the problems of a real world film project. You must find an in world location, as building one yourself is out of the question unless you want to pay for land. You then have to buy or find props. Building within Second life is possible, but the controls are horrible and my existing modelling skills become useless. It is possible to import textures into second life (which you have to pay to do) but not existing models. This seems like a huge waste of potential. Searching for props is not easy to do and was very time consuming. I had to spend time earning
Linden dollars before I could even get started.
The other problem is that you need actors. As Second Life is an MMO of sorts, you require one person to puppet every avatar in the scene. Controlling an avatar and a camera at once is very tricky, so ideally the director would want to be apart from the scene. This means you’d need a person for every actor on screen at once, plus a director, making this a very inefficient option in terms of manpower.
The lack of scripting in Second Life means that for every take you do, the whole sequence must be acted again. This can be a disadvantage if you had everything going just right and just wanted to alter a camera angle- something that wouldn’t be a problem in an engine such as source.
Second Life also doesn’t look that great as a filming location. The residents have horrible modelling habits due to the weird builder, the textures all tile noticeably, and it’s rare to find a build with an overall art style behind it.
The main use of machinima within Second Life seems to be filming personally important events, such as in-game weddings, rather than any particularly creative endeavours. The only people I can see really wanting to pursue machinima within Second Life are the residents themselves.

I'll have to find out if I'm allowed to post up the video of the work I did as it's the BBC's intellectual property.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More SL Info dropping

Nice filming location


Kowloon Walled City

I found this knocking about on my portable hard drive last night. I started it before I left uni at the end of the year, and it was going pretty well. It's still very much in progress, the main issue being the pile of rubbish in the foreground needs working into.

This is from a book about Kowloon Walled City, which was incredibly interesting. When the British took control of Hong Kong, it was never certain who exactly had control over Kowloon city, so it basically became a lawless society. Despite any official laws or government controls, the city survived, and did well for itself in many ways. Although there was widespread drug use and crime, the residents also took it upon themselves to set up schools and old people's clubs. There were many successful businesses, and practicing dentists and doctors who couldn't work in mainland Hong Kong due to not having the correct paperwork. The complete lack of planning regulations led to buildings being set up wherever they would fit, and almost leaning against each other like dominoes. Utilities were haphazard, and the alleys at the base of the buildings were dark and constantly damp from the dripping pipes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Second Life Machinima

Well, I've taken my first steps towards making a machinima, by testing out some lip sync technology.

To make this video (please try to ignore the watermark) I simply went into Second Life and found somewhere I thought looked nice. I positioned the camera so it was facing my avatar and took a screenshot.

I then opened up Crazytalk and pasted in the image. Crazytalk lets you define certain key features of the 2D image, namely the edges of the lips and eyes. You can then record an audio track and the image will automatically lip sync. The results look pretty good, however it does limit you quite a lot by using a flat image as a base. You'd have to be careful not to overuse it and to cut it in with different shots where it wouldn't matter so much that a character wasn't obviously lip synced.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

This is the BBC

As some people may be aware, I'm currently on a machinima placement with the BBC. The last couple of days have just been introduction and completing training courses, but soon we start actually getting down to business. Tomorrow we'll hopefully be given a script and then we'll each have a week or so to create a machinima of it using different engines. One of us will be on Moviestorm, one on Source, and me on Second Life. At the moment Source is looking like the most promising and flexible option for future use, but we'll have a go at everything and see what issues come up.

So for now I'll be using this blog as a drop off point for any reference I find useful in creating my Second Life machinima.

How to Alt-Zoom Camera - Camera controlling

Lip sync - Second Life Wiki - Rudimentary Lip Sync for SL

Machinima in Second Life - A tutorial of the whole machinima process

Thinkerer Studios - Step by step video recording and editing for SL

Noob Be Gone - Camera controls and an example of lipsynced SL machinima

Lip sync tools

Flycam - camera tool

CTRL + DEL + F1 Get rid of HUD

CTRL + DEL + D - opens up debug menu, allowing for unrestricted camera controls and some lip syncing

ALT + left click - follow a specific object or player with the camera

List of resources

List of places to get animations

Facial animation HUD

Animated Speech

Animation shop - inc some free ones

Crazy Talk - a lipsyncing program