Prepare to alter your reality: the Fifth Annual Machinima Expo, a festival that showcases real-time animated films, will be held November 16-18 in the avatar-populated world of Second Life. While other film festivals are held in physical locales and limited to an elite group of attendees, anyone can join in the fun at the Expo either by creating a Second Life avatar and virtually attending the festival or by watching the event on Livestream.
With around 50 films being shown and considered for awards, including a grand prize and jury prizes, Executive Producer Ricky Grove said, “This year is our most ambitious year.”
As a growing art form, machinima (pronounced mah-SHIN-eh-mah, the hybridization of machine and cinema) describes both user-produced and professionally created videos using game engines. Though the term is more often associated with the gaming-focused community called Machinima.com (and its awesome YouTube channel sporting 138 million subscribers), the Expo aims to profile the nongaming side of the genre even as it uses the game engines to generate the films. Because avatar-rendering engines and video editing software have become increasingly sophisticated, making animated movies this way is fairly accessible and low cost. The degree of sophistication in these films can be on par with studio production quality, a testament to just how far the technology has advanced. The result is genre rich, diverse, and open to all.
Since launching in Second Life, the Expo has “continued to grow each year for the last 4 years,” according to Ricky. He added that this year “we’ve received 150 submissions from all over the world.”
In addition to the films being shown, a keynote address will be given along with panel discussions, machinima workshops, and filmmaker interviews for professionals, enthusiasts, or those new to the field who want to learn more. Sponsors of this year’s festival include Unity3 and Reallusion, the maker of iClone5.
Along with Ricky, the Machinima Expo is run by Kate Fosk and volunteer staff from around the world, who have been preparing the programming for the expected thousands who will attend. In fact, Ricky stated that [Singularity Hub member] Pooky Amsterdam will be head of programming this year, “which will be wonderful” he added.
To get a flavor of what the Expo has to offer, it’s worth it to check out last year’s winner, an animated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter Of The Dark”: