Beth Coleman, assistant professor in Comparative Media Studies and the Writing Program has assembled a group of student researchers to look at Machinima, (the art of using 3D gaming engines to produce original cinematic pieces). The MIT News Office has been following their progress:
“It’s popular because it’s inexpensive and faster,” she said, “but also there’s a preference for the style of video games for this generation.” People who grew up playing Quake and Doom feel comfortable in virtual game spaces and are stimulated by the possibility of manipulating them. They find, though, that machinima film-making has many of the same constraints and requirements as other kinds of film-making: You still have to write a script, develop the characters, make the storyboards, and edit and re-edit the work.
Katherine Kuan, an electrical engineering and computer science major at MIT, has been working on the machinima project since February. Said Kuan, “It started out slow, building characters on my own in Second Life,” a virtual world in which people create their own “avatars” and can spend real money to buy virtual sets, costumes, or scripts from other “residents.” She enjoys working in Second Life: “It’s very flexible, you can build whatever you like, and it’s kind of like real film production.”
This October, Coleman organized a couple of two-day “cross-university” tutorials to bring interested parties up to speed on the tools and relative merits of two different 3-D engines, UT (Unreal Tournament 2004) and Second Life. “We’ve done some experimenting as our own production group,” said Coleman, “now we’re getting together with other people.”