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Monday, August 20, 2012

Interview With Pooky Amsterdam, Kate Fosk and Ricky Grove of Machinima Expo 2012

Recently, Ginette Pinazzo sat down with Ricky Grove, Kate Fosk and Pooky Ansterdam of Machinima Expo 2012 to discuss the upcoming event and some of the broader implications of machinima.
Ginette: Regarding the previous years of the show, can you give me short capsule descriptions of what those each were like? Notable changes as the show progressed through the years?

Ricky: Our main focus every year is the films and the filmmakers. What has changed is the organization and length of the show (from 2 days to 3). Programming has changed as well. We are much more ambitious now, with this year being the most ambitious (Get REAL!)
Kate: Our first festival was held entirely within second life, which limited our audience to the number of people who could fit onto a sim. The largest shift has been to broadcasting our event live on the web, which means we can now have thousands of live participants.
Pooky: Previous years have always held panels, and of course been distinguished by a jury and awards. The programming for this year will be livestreamed again, with the emphasis on delivering content, which will be viewed for years to come through the archive. We started doing that last year with the Legend Sessions, and continue this year with some really great panels that are all focusing on the theme of “Get Real” This year we will also have the Screenings and the awards handed out on Sunday the Last Day of the Expo. This year we also have a really amazing place to see the videos in and will have some truly fantastic special effects and special guests.
Ginette: In the history of the Expo so far, can you tell me some fondly remembered highlights?
Ricky: First Expo, Phil Rice built the entire structure (3 theaters, sets, signs, installations) in a week inside SL. Tom Jantol's discussion last year is a big thing for me, too.
Kate: As a member of the screening team I get to see all the movies in advance, and I love the anticipation of the audience reaction to films they haven't seen before...there have been many 'I can't wait until they see this' moments.
Pooky: I met Russell Boyd at the Expo in 2008, that was very very special for me as the Expo began to broaden my complete awareness of what film could possibly be made using real time animation. My first Expo was an incredible moment for me as that was what really brought me into filmmaking.
Ginette: What have been some all new additions/innovations/evolutions for this year's show?
Kate: Many of the improvements this year have been in recruitment, and vital background tasks, that will show themselves in a slicker, more integrated Expo.
Pooky: We are ever expanding the Expo out to reach those who are not as familiar with the medium as they should be. With the great interest that game engine films are generating, we want to continue to distinguish ourselves with the increasingly excellent quality of our films. This year we will have the AHO museum available and that is a mind blowing installation to watch video within. The expanded programming is also pretty spectacular covering real aspects of machinima that will elevate the medium, expanding and elevating the platforms we can work with.
Will Wright is going ot be doing the LockNote speech on Sunday!
Ginette: How would you describe the current 'mission' of the Expo as it has become, and where you think it will lead? (the mission as it grows)
Ricky: As we get better at doing this virtually, we'll have more professional sponsors, higher profile guests and we'll probably go non-profit so we can give back to our sponsors. Also will have money enough to hire a good publicist.
Kate: To continue to raise awareness of machinima to the general public, to find a new audience for our work, to share the amazing talent within the machinima community.
Ginette: Are there any partners you are particularly excited about?
Ricky: iPi Soft, Muvizu, 3D Connexion and Reallusion.
Ginette: What are your thoughts on the place/role of Machinima in Sl and Virtual Worlds in general
Kate: Machinima is a bridge which connects a multiplicity of independent film making communities, it has the potential to join virtual worlds together, with gamers, and those using dedicated machinima tools to make a wider virtual universe.
Pooky: As always know your platform and its strengths and weaknesses. Machinima is one of the greatest Ambassadors a world like Second Life can have when it is well done. Using a 360 game engine for a film really allows the film maker to see in total and all at once the various assets, set design and character included as it all fits together, this is a great plus for film making. Second Life and Virtual Worlds through the great availability of virtual goods allows for story boarding as well in film. The possibilities are really picking up as far as I can tell, and for all. As the tide comes in all boats will rise.
Ginette: What are your thoughts on the place/role of Machinima in the future in general
Kate: Machinima is above all an accessible tool which allows ordinary people to make their dreams a reality which can be shared.
Pooky: Machinima is a great medium for story telling and as it is is very cost effective I see this being used more and more for prototyping. Everything from character to sets for more expensive CGI projects and also for live action films as well can be created first within this kind of enviroment, after all storyboards can include drawn images. Importantly since a lot of people play video games, the avatar characters, and look and feel of film done on video games is also something folks relate to. Personally having used Second Life for a Public Service announcement meant the audience, who were 5 – 14 years of age had the immediate reference point of something that looked like The Sims, for example.. Increased familiarity also means increased acceptance.
Ginette: What would you like the public perception to be of Machinima Expo? How would like to see the show 'defined' by observers and media analysts?
Kate: We are continually delighted at the reactions of outsiders outside eye to to the world of machinima, I think we forget what a liberating creative environment we have, and it takes remind us of this.
Pooky: Machinima Expo as a unique opportunity to see high-quality machinima and come away inspired.
Ricky: Machinima – Expo is for film makers, artists and story tellers who use the medium with real purpose. It is not and is distinguished from it in a few very important ways. While has loads of frag fests and FPS
films, they don’t have real narrative stories or series done in Machinima. They have the Toby like videos of someone making very funny comments over a video game being played (& some of that stuff is hilarious) but for their Real series
they use live action. Its like their filmmakers don’t really have the skills to do more with the medium. Machinima – Expo is all about the Real value of using Machinima s a story telling, narrative and highly artistic medium. It is truly a Film festival that celebrates the art and artists of this incredible Medium we are all a part of.
Ginette: What are some trends you have observed in machinima over time
Kate: More dedication to craft, a willingness to take ourselves seriously and a passion to share our work outside of closed web communities.
Pooky: It is getting better all the time, people are really beginning to push their engine of choice to the limits – we have some incredible films submitted this year.
Ginette: What would be an evolution you'd like to see or expect to see in machinima in the coming years?
Ricky: Big one for me is to move away from the model of game-based frat boy machinima to using the medium to create works of personal expression and art.
Kate: At the moment machinima needs creativity, hard work and a technical mind set. I'd like to reduce the need for the technical mind set so we can vastly increase the pool of people making movies this way.
Pooky: Ditto Ricky! And we are – I would love to see this medium looked at seriously whiich is difficult in the publics perception with the overwhelmingly frat frag fests that do generate great aggregate views and clout for their channel on Youtube.-

WRAPUP from Pooky:
As Machinima – Expo grows and the films get stronger and stronger as our outreach to people who are early adopters and game analysts and trend setters in our industry moves forward, as We keep getting greater recognition certainly at
SIGGRAPH and the New Media Film Festival and places such as these – we will get there. Please submit your film – This will an uber fantastic year!

Check out the Machinima Expo 2012 site and submission guidelines


  1. If I wasn't already halfway in love with Ricky Grove because of his yummy and talented voice, I would have been after reading his "frat boy machinma" comment! As Pooky already say, "Ditto, Ricky!"

  2. Am I one very proud grumpy old man or what? To be mentioned by Ricky as one of the highlights of the Machinima EXPO last year, well, you can't get much more then that in Machinima. I am dead serious.
    Thanks, Ricky.


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