(Dell is holding a machinima contest, which we'll discuss shortly. They asked me to write a tutorial to help new machinimators get their start.)
Every day, I feature a video by some brave soul that dived in head first into the world of machinima. For those that aren't familiar with the term, it stands for machine and cinema. The literal definition is movies made in a 3D gaming platform. Using this basic guide, as well as the other tutorials and resources available to you, you'll be creating your first project in no time!
Here is what you'll need if you want to make a machinima for free:
- WeGame camera - A free capturing program
- GIMP - A free image editing program
- Audacity - A free audio editing program
- Windows Movie Maker/iMovie - Free video editing programs that should have come with your appropriate system
Read on for optional and advanced tools, plus additional resources ...
- WoW Model and Map Viewers - Lets you chroma key WoW characters into scenes and pictures
- Madx's WoW Machinima Tool - A beta program that lets you adjust aspects in WoW, such as weather, camera angles, and even avatar size
- MyWarcraftStudio - Allows you to extract in-game audio assets for use in your project
- Voice Acting Alliance - A website where you can hold auditions for voice parts in your film
- Fraps - The standard for PC video capturing
- Snapz Pro - Even though WoW has a built-in option for recording on the Mac, this is the paid alternative to Fraps
- Sony Vegas (PC) or Adobe Premiere (PC/Mac) - These programs contain advanced editing functions, such as chroma keying the Model Viewed characters
- Adobe After Effects - A PC/Mac special effects program that complements Adobe Premiere
- Particle Illusion - A particle program for the PC and Mac that is good for fire, explosions, and a variety of other things
- CrazyTalk - A third party lip-syncing that animates images
- Final Cut Pro - The professional Mac video editing program that makes PC owners everywhere jealous
While there are plenty of tips out there for actually creating WoW machinima, everyone has a preference as to what editing program they use. Because of this, it would be impossible to show you editing guides. I would advise reading up on your chosen program, using their help section, and googling for tutorials.
- The basics of making WoW machinima
- Oxhorn's tips on making a good movie
- Screen capturing with Fraps and WeGame
- Animating characters
- Creating layers
- Mods for WoW that ease filming pain
- Using WoW Model Viewer, parts one and two
- Using WoW Map Viewer, parts one and two
- Camera panning with images
- Motion, parts one and two
- Chroma keying, parts one and two
- Shadows, parts one and two
- Color correction
- Rendering, parts one and two
- Using the WoW Machinima Tool
- Machinima for Dummies - A book that focuses on filming in multiple platforms
- Blizzard's Fair Use Guide for WoW machinima
- #Machinima on Quakenet IRC
- Madx Machinima forums
- Machinima 101 forums
- Ten machinima resources of which you may not be aware
- Video Copilot - Andrew Kramer's site for After Effects tutorials
- Youtube - While the quality isn't the greatest, this will be the site where you'll get most of your viewers from.
- Filefront - This site has decent quality and appeals to gamers, but you'll get an email periodically giving you only a few days to take your video out of a deletion queue.
- Machinima.com - The site has a nice following, but if your video is good, they'll likely upload it on their own YouTube account for views.
- Warcraftmovies - This site hosts a variety of WoW videos, ranging from gameplay to storyline. They let you upload the video, describe it, receive comments, and list mirrors of your video from other sites.
- Vimeo - This site offers probably the best quality embed, but they recently changed their policy on machinima to disallow gameplay and exploration videos.
- Blip.tv - This site has pretty high quality embeds, but they also allow you to upload multiple versions of your video, as well as the audio from it. When asked to clarify their machinima policy, they also stated that they do not support gameplay videos. Storyline and music video machinima are fine.
On a final note, I have to stress the importance of being familiar with Blizzard's Fair Use Guide. Blizzard has outlined some rules on how you can and cannot produce your videos. Among them, you can't profit off of them commercially without licensing from them. In addition, you cannot sell your work or charge a fee to view it. Beyond that, they go into detail on educational uses and sponsor logos.
Machinima can be an extremely rewarding hobby. There's already a large community out there that not only creates, but enjoys viewing, this emerging medium. What are you waiting for? Go forth and make me proud!