Completely Machinima S2 Ep 42 News (August 2022)

In this episode, Ricky, Tracy and Damien discuss some of the more interesting machinima and real-time things they’ve trawled the internet for during the last month. Tracy gives her take on the GTA Online performance of Hamlet by Sam Crane, some interesting uses of Unreal Engine, tech tools and a fun way to simulate gravity. Damien brings Godot to the table and highlights some worrisome news about Unity, before waxing lyrical on Star Trek’s Strange New World’s use of Unreal. Ricky finds an interesting Unreal Engine Field Guide and discusses the latest updates to Nightmare Puppeteer.

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Damien Valentine, Tracy Harwood, Ricky Grove

Ricky Grove 00:00
Hey everyone, this is Ricky Grove and you are listening to the And Now For Something Completely Machinima podcast for August 2022. I'm here with Tracy Harwood, one of our regulators. Hi, Tracy. Hello, and Damien Valentine. Also one of our regulars and a great commentator on the news and films. Hello, sir. Hellow there. Phil is busy throwing up in some bathroom in Florida, so he won't be here. We we told him he wanted him to use his cell phone to participate. But he just, you know, he threw up on the cell phone. And now that doesn't work. So we're just left hanging here. But get well soon Phil. We're are going to include your excellent film choice for this month. But this first section is going to be our machinima news section. And I think Tracy has some feedback to deal with first, and then she'll go into her news then Damian, and then our news. Now remember, all of the news that we're talking about is related to machinima in some way or real time filmmaking. So Tracy, take it away.

Tracy Harwood 01:32
Absolutely. We've had some really great feedback again this month. Thanks to everyone that's giving us some some words of wisdom from their perspective. I'll start with Mike Clements. Mike has asked, this is a biggie we're really but Mike has asked us what is our favourite, greatest all time, machinima. He wants to know what is the Citizen Kane or Terminator 2 of machinima. And the other thing he said is, he really appreciates Ben's machinima history videos to do the quick one that he spent some time looking at. So thanks for those comments. I think personally speaking, from my point of view, there are just too many great machinima films that we've seen over the years to to call it in my view. I think our whole podcast is full of some great examples of the literally 10s of 1000s of films that creators have made over the years demonstrating many different styles and tools and environments and approaches. And what I particularly love about it is that creative diversity that we are finding in the work, that's that's my favourite part of it, really. And so perhaps that question is something that we might throw back at you guys, our listeners, and perhaps as a thread on the discord server that we've got. What do you guys think?

Ricky Grove 03:02
I think that's a great idea. Um, you know, the idea of the greatest are the top 10. They're, they're popular tools for getting information out there. But they're not necessarily reliable, because a great deal of it has to do on personal preference. I mean, if you're a person who just loves strange and experimental films, you're not going to like the sentimental films of Frank Capra. You know what I mean? Or, or stuff that it's in that vein. By the same token, if you're somebody who loves the mainstream stuff, you're just going to scratch your head over experimental work. So it really is a personal choice. I was thinking about the question, and I just didn't want to answer it. But it's stayed around in my head for some time. And I think what came up in my mind over and over again, was a machinima film called The Snow Witch, oh, yeah. What's just, there's just something about it. That made me feel so great. And I think is such a representative of, of, of the two sides of machinima, which is the sort of rough and ready side, meaning that you make it fast. You don't spend a year putting it together, but also there's a good amount of craft to it. So it looks good. It has great quality has something to say for one thing, cuz it's based on a great Japanese myth, or folklore. And the director who's, oh, boy, I'm gonna embarrass myself.

Tracy Harwood 04:34
Is it Michelle?

Ricky Grove 04:35
Michelle? Yes. She was she worked Britannica productions, worked for maybe three or four years and then sort of slid away and to other things that she was interested in. But, but I think if I had a film that, that I could show somebody who doesn't know anything about machinima, I would choose that film. What about your Damien

Damien Valentine 05:00
And I don't think I can choose one film either because even not my tasting favourite film, just any kind of film, not just machinima that changes every day as well, because so, well, how can I pick my favourite machinima film when I can't even my favourite TV series. It just varies depending on what I feel like watching. It's your choice. That is

Tracy Harwood 05:26
what it is a good choice, actually. I mean, yeah, there are so many from those kind of early days that push the boundaries, but I remember that one. I remember showing that at the European Machinima Festival back in 2007, with BBC in the audience, and they were fascinated by that. And that kicked off a whole sort of let's come and talk to you about machinima kind of discussion, specifically in relation to The Snow Witch films, it was beautifully voiced. And, you know, the Oh, yeah, story was really well told on that

Ricky Grove 06:00
everything about it just works. You know, it did. Yeah. And it's the kind of thing that takes the lie out of people saying, well, machinima is just a cheap. You know, it's really just to sketch out an idea, you know, as opposed to truly being legitimate film on its own. Yeah, you know, and I'm really glad to say that

Tracy Harwood 06:24
we did a real deep dive into that several months ago, I'll have to put a link in the show notes. to that. So you can go back and listen to what we had to say about it. Way back when Mike. Then just just picking up on some other comments that Mike made last month on the film's episode, if you remember, we talked about why do people recreate scenes from big budget films, in reference to that sort of parody machinima, or the opening scene of Top Gun Maverick which we reviewed by Phenom. Well, Mike says it's perhaps a bit like practising on an instrument and found Phil's point about how it's through recreating the works, that we can uncover the why the process and the language of cinematography. And I think, yeah, we, we pretty much all agreed on that, that point in the end. So great observations, pity Phil's not here to sort of pick up on that as well. Yeah he's throwing up, literally,

Tracy Harwood 07:20
flying jets for him. Absolutely. I can understand that.

Tracy Harwood 07:31
3D Chick also picks up on similar points, saying that Phil was spot on from her perspective, it's all about learning the software, trying to recreate something very specific that she likes and can learn from. And that also helps her to keep focused. And then she also comments though, that as a person who's doing animation in Unreal and iClone and would like to someday make money from it, doing something that is trending is going to get more views on YouTube. She says the algorithm will show that some more eyeballs, which is also a reason so many do tutorials, because they're searchable and get more attention and viewer retention, rather than the miscellaneous animations. And I get that, I have to say, I do get that. But it's also in my view, a kind of a lazy approach to it too, for me.

Ricky Grove 08:17
Thank you for pointing that out. An alternative way of looking at it is that the 1000s, if not, 10s of 1000, people are going to do that, to bring views to their YouTube channel, there are going to be people out there go, I don't want to watch that I want to watch something different. And if you do something that's more creative, like come up with your own original scene, or choose something from a short story or redo public domain stuff that people don't know about. And then really add your own personal flair to it. You can benefit by learning the craft while you're also being creative as well. So I think that's another perspective we need to include in the conversation.

Tracy Harwood 09:08
Yeah, good points, actually, Ricky. And then I'm

Damien Valentine 09:11
gonna just basically agree with Ricky's, we don't want to just recreate big budget TV shows and films, because we can just watch those anyway, we don't want to. I mean, if it's really well done recreation, that's great. But we'd like to see new stuff as well. In fact, we prefer to see new stuff, but you know, I can understand why it's important to learn. And sometimes that is a good way to learn is I want to recreate this scene, because I don't know how to make the engine do this thing. But if I've tried to recreate it the closest possible I will learn how to do it and then I can take that knowledge and then go and create my own thing.

Ricky Grove 09:48
Exactly. Exactly. Very good point. Yeah.

Tracy Harwood 09:51
Absolutely. And then on the films themselves that we reviewed, we've heard back from three of the creators, which is cool, so thanks for that. Firstly, EE Studios has been in touch to shed light on some of their approach to humour which we picked up on if you can say that, you know, we had, we had some observations about the crudeness of the humour, but but they enjoyed our review nonetheless. And they say what they try to do is capture as much of the truth of any group they can in the moment so that there are bits that happen organically, which they then try to build on. And then if you remember, we also had some comments about the the, the facial animations, which were a little bit variable. And they say that the game tech from their perspective is still very buggy and often works against them, especially. They're not using expensive cameras, but that the facial recognition itself is pretty good, given the current parameters that are working, which I think's really interesting. And then they've also recommended that we have a look at another one of their series called Overclock, which we're, we are going to get around to doing so thanks. Good recommendation.

Ricky Grove 11:02
Yeah, it's important to keep in mind that that oftentimes, our criticism is based on sometimes an ideal version of the film. So if there's a weakness in a particular aspect of a machinima film, we could say, well, that's a weakness. But I think that's a good thing to remember that there's sometimes it's the limb limitations of the game engine, that that make it a weakness, not so much that they're just they don't have the craft to fix that. You know. So I think that's a good point. Thank you. Thank you very much for raising that up in your feedback.

Tracy Harwood 11:38
Absolutely. And then JSFilmz has come back to this and commented on, on the film that that so we review there that it took him a really long time re rendering the scene to find the brightness. And if you recall, what we said was it was too dark. But Jae says, whilst he liked his darkness, he probably agrees with us that it was possibly too dark for daytime viewing. So, yeah, indeed. And then TMC also enjoyed our review of their film hired steel. And they're currently working on the next episode and wanted to say that their content is actually completed, completely 3d rendered in Blender and software suite. Wow, that's cool. Absolutely. They say they texture, light, animate and render everything themselves, and extract the models from the game and then rework them with permission, which I have to say is interesting, which is how the project is connected to the game. So it's a really interesting workflow there. And thanks for telling us about that.

Ricky Grove 12:41
That would be a really interesting workflow to, to examine, to have somebody, we should consider talking to them. Yes, future.

Tracy Harwood 12:48
Absolutely. So if you're up for an interview, we'd love to talk to you about that. And then a couple of folks have also picked up on some of the things we highlighted in last month's News episode, notably, the use of characters that look like real people and the potential ways that some of the latest technologies we're talking about are going to exacerbate the issues we talked about, basically, that's using people's visual identity as assets with questionable permission to do so. And to that, 3d Chick as well. When reallusion came out with headshot, she said she was stunned to see the model that we're using to demonstrate it was a real person a model in New York, and still wonders if they paid the model or just found the image online. And then combining that with the VTuber tech that we talked about feels it's just going to be a recipe for all sorts of trouble. I guess. One of the ways these organisations can assure everyone is to make sure that the credits are very clear. But I think it's something that just doesn't seem to happen routinely yet in this arena. And it's something we've commented quite a lot on over over a period of time. And then Lord Krit on our Discord server also comments on how VTuber technology is advancing which is clearly becoming quite an alternative for webcaming stream as he says. Chris Newell commented on our April films episode that was episode 35, and wanted to highlight the role that TMO and TMU played in Greenwich cinema to the fore all those years ago with a a show that covered every tool there was from Second Life to iClone, and Moviestorm, so on and so on showing people how you could make a movie with gain software and how that in turn stimulated a lot of creativity. I think we'd all say here, here to that. Yes, here here. And finally 3d Chick says she loves our long episodes and wishes we could manage 2 a month. Although she said she realises we all have lives. Thank you. So nice. My words. Appreciate that.

Damien Valentine 14:53
I'm really I do think join listening to us.

Tracy Harwood 14:55
Yeah, absolutely. I think we excelled ourselves. Last month. We were Really, we've commented that somebody said, can you cut it down to 15 minutes, and we ended up doing an hour and 20 minutes. Us, just running wild.

Damien Valentine 15:12
I was anything that I was going through, so I can't cut this out. It's too good. Cut this out too good. And then he, in the end didn't kind of thing out because it just the conversation was you can't just do it, because you just go with it. So yeah.

Tracy Harwood 15:25
And but we do chapter up or chunk it up. So you know, that's the beauty of YouTube, I think you can kind of Yeah, yeah, cut and dice it and what have you anyway, right. So I would just say keep those comments coming, because we love hearing what you got to say about what we're talking about.

Ricky Grove 15:42
gives us fuel to keep doing this and enthusiasm and inspiration. Thank you.

Tracy Harwood 15:47
Absolutely. And the other thing I'd say is, if you spot anything we should be looking at, do please point us in the right direction, because absolutely

Ricky Grove 15:54
loves interested in films, and new technology or something that we've missed. I mean, we can't possibly include everything that we've come across in one month. So we have to narrow it down. If you give us leads, we'll we'll follow them.

Tracy Harwood 16:10
Absolutely, that's it. That's all the feedback that we've got this month. So thanks again. All right, brilliant. What

Ricky Grove 16:14
What kind of news do you have for us today?

Tracy Harwood 16:23
Oh my god, me. I have lots of news again, but I'm gonna cut it actually I'm gonna

Ricky Grove 16:33
dive into keep it within reason. Yeah,

Tracy Harwood 16:34
absolutely. So another

Damien Valentine 16:36
hour and 20 minutes.

Tracy Harwood 16:37
Indeed, I could do that on my own. I think these days. First of all, some really interesting applications of machinima. And I've got two things I want to talk about. We mentioned some time ago, the actor Sam Crane, who is otherwise known as Rustic Mascara, on social media, and a motley cast of GTA characters performed what has been described as the first full theatrical performance of a Shakespeare play in GTA Online, It was Hamlet, and it was live streamed on the Fourth of July. I was one of those folks out of the game in in the audience. I have to say, I think what impressed me most about this endeavour was the way they thought through how to deal with the audience in the game, as well as perform the play. No mean feat I have to say. And there wasn't, there wasn't hundreds of people in there with them, but there was enough that they needed to manage the process. I think my favourite part was when they moved to another set to perform a scene in an aircraft, which they crashed and killed everyone. Absolutely hilarious. I think really, it was, overall, it was really enjoyable event. Super interesting to see. And I think also, interestingly, has since attracted more mainstream media attention too. And, what they said was the goal that they had for it, or that Sam had for it was wanting to bring Shakespeare to a new audience. And I think to an extent, they probably have done that. But I think it will be kind of interesting to see how others pick up on this kind of Shakespearean mantle in future also. So I was, I'd be super interested to see how that unfolds.

Ricky Grove 18:29
Well, I'm really glad you attended that. And it sounds like a fascinating event. But I'd like to point out that the novelty of doing Shakespeare in GTA is what attracts people, not the fact that it's Hamlet's performed William Shakespeare. But if that's a doorway into people suddenly going, well, wow, this is kind of an interesting play. Let me go take a look at it. That could be very useful.

Tracy Harwood 18:57
Absolutely. I completely agree with you on that one. It was most definitely an odd experience. Yeah,

Ricky Grove 19:04
remind me a little bit of the strolling, strolling players or street theatre. Tradition has been around forever and dealing with unruly audiences has always been part of the experience. I recall, reading when I was doing a lot of research on performing Shakespeare, one of the earliest strolling players, Shakespeare players was in the United States just after the Civil War. And many cities did not like drama or plays, because they thought they were immoral. So this one particular company which specialised in being able to bring in a production really fast, and then if there's local sheriff or authorities got wind of it, tie everything up, no matter where they were, and then leave before they got arrested. And then have the account of somebody there, was doing Othello. And about halfway through, they got the news that the sheriff is on the way. And so one of the characters, and so they made the signal, and whatever character was on stage, quickly summarise what happened. They did a quick bow and left all within like 60 seconds. So I thought that and of course, it must have been hilarious for the people watching it. So that tradition is something that they didn't establish, but I'm really glad to see it still exists today.

Tracy Harwood 20:29
Yeah, of course, I'm questioned that it's first Shakespearean play to be performed in a virtual environment, cuz I'm pretty sure that sort of stuff has been going on in Second Life for a very

Ricky Grove 20:40
long No, no, I was in a Shakespeare production that was done done in, like, IRC chat. And then also in some other virtual reality back I forgot, just 1998. I'd forgotten all the details. So I can't remember it. But yeah, no, I think I don't think they were the first.

Tracy Harwood 21:04
No, but it's an interesting, it's interesting to talk about it in any event. It's interesting, because obviously Sam's a professional actor, and obviously experienced actor, you know, having played at the Globe and whatnot, as well. So he's, you know, he's got all the chops with the performance side of it, but just never actually done it in a, in a in a game environment that

Ricky Grove 21:25
he Well, congratulations. And I encourage them to keep doing it. Maybe Macbeth is the next one to do. Some sort of rough and ready game world, you know?

Tracy Harwood 21:38
Yes, exactly.

Damien Valentine 21:40
Okay. Well, you're saying about the sheriff coming in shutting down the plays. I'm just thinking in GTA, if one of the actors accidentally did something to set off to police in the end game NPC police.

Ricky Grove 21:52
That would be good. The cast is running away in cars.

Tracy Harwood 21:56
I mean, what was interesting is they managed all the, the scenes, so that there were no, you know, there was no opportunity for people to discover what they were doing and just, you know, interrupt it. So you know, they were on a ship, or they were in an area where there was nobody else or an island or it's bits and bobs. So the whole thing was really choreographed to a very high level I thought, but the way they moved the audience around and told them where to stand whilst they were setting up the scene, really, you know that there was a lot of thought that had gone into the audience management side as well as the actual performance side of it. So yeah, impressive.

Tracy Harwood 22:41
Secondly, there nice little article about Unreal Engine five, having been used to create the set of a music venue as a kind of previous, which I think is a nice twist on the use of game engines used as tools that that creates set based backdrops. We've talked about this quite a bit in the past, where machinima as has been used as a previous tool for film, but it's really, I think it's really quite interesting to see that that use is being spread across a broader range of entertainment experiences now too, so I'll put a link in the show notes. to that. Quite a quite an interesting use, I think. Yes.

Tracy Harwood 23:22
And then I've got a couple of tips, hints and useful stimuli that you might be interested in. Nice little video featuring Christopher Nolan, explaining how he made a series of films with no budget, or low budget. Lots of good ideas in there. It's not specifically about Michelle Merkel's. It's more about real film. But I've no doubt that the same kind of ideas that he talks about can be applied in a virtual context too. So we'll put a link to that.

Tracy Harwood 23:51
And an article on the 50 Greatest Fictional deaths of all time, has been published, which purports to cover the most tear, jerking, hilarious, satisfying and shocking scenes from two and a half 1000 years of culture. There are some pretty good ones on the list. If you're looking for inspiration, you could try one or more of those to sort of wet your teeth rather than try and recreate shot by shot big budget film scenes that might be a way of sort of stimulating some creative juice. So we'll put a link to that article in there as well.

Ricky Grove 24:30
Sounds fascinating.

Tracy Harwood 24:31
It is you'd enjoy that one, Ricky. And then I've got a few tech tools that you might be interested in. The first one, an AI dubbing service that automates video translation with human sounding voiceovers called Papercup. It's not free, but it still looks pretty interesting, pretty useful. From from my point of view, so if you're thinking about how you can kind of make your film more accessible to a different audience, or you'll say creating content in a language that won't necessarily make it more accessible to a wider audience, I think that's a potentially useful tool to have a look at. Then there's a new markerless mo cap hand tracking tool in Animate 3D software, which is by DeepMotion. That seems to have been published in June. It's also not free, but there is a kind of a freemium model operating for this. So you can, you can create something up to about, I think it's about 30 seconds long for free. And then depending on what you want to use it for, you know, you can kind of pay increasing amounts to create kind of more content. So if you think that one through, you might be able to get away with a with a freemium use of it. And an interesting idea, if not an app, or indeed a tutorial, the guy has created a set that links Unreal Engine five, to the orientation data from an Android phone, which allows him to simulate gravity by rotating a monitor. But it's one of those kinds of really simple things, which could possibly lead to hours and hours of fun, you can tip your screen and the whole set sort of wobbles about as brilliant, have a look at it. See what you make of it.

Damien Valentine 26:22
Making a Star Trek like machinima or you know the scenes when the breeze starts shaking, the crew goes flying over, it can do that. Just by shaking the screen just to see what happens.

Tracy Harwood 26:35
Yeah, yeah. Well, it is pretty interesting what he's done with it. I mean, like I said, it's not a tutorial. It doesn't tell you how he's done it, but it doesn't look that difficult to do. Yeah. So yeah, just a fascinating idea. Another one of those kind of creative little things that you might want to play with, I guess. Thank you. That's it. For me. That's all my news this month.

Ricky Grove 26:56
You always have such great news. Thanks for for putting the effort into come up coming up with such good stuff. Hey, Damien, what do you have for us today in the way of machinima news.

Damien Valentine 27:14
I've got a few interesting things. So there's the Godot 4 engine, which is a video game engine a bit like Unity, it's open source, and it's free. I don't know too much about it, myself. But they've recently just had an update, which allows footage from whatever game you've created to be saved as a video file or an image sequence, which is perfect for making machinima because you can, you'd have to make a game but if you're using the engine to create your scene, you've got the tools built into it to save the footage, which you can then do whatever you like with whatever editing software you want. And so that is obviously a huge new feature for the engine. And the update itself is free so it's completely free to try that. I don't know anything else about the engine so I can't recommend it. I know it does 2d and 3d But

Ricky Grove 28:12
I've reviewed it and worked with it a bit and it's a bit like Blender was before they had their big breakthrough update. It's still in the process community. People were open source driven. But I liked it a lot. I liked the attitude. I liked the tools. They just never seem to get around to do doing much in the way of helping machinima filmmakers. So I'm really glad to see that they've brought the capability to to create machinima inside of that more easily because I think it's really an up and coming game engine. It's it's overshadowed by Unreal and Unity a lot. But I'd like it. I think I think the look is really good. More and more people are making games from it. So I encourage people to take a look at it since it's free, and start making machinima inside of it.

Damien Valentine 29:08
Yeah. So the next thing is last week. Last month, we talked about love death robots, which is a Netflix animated series. And a few days after that, they released some behind the scenes video of a different episode in the series, called inverted hauls, in tombs. And it turns out that was rendered animated and rendered entirely in Unreal. And they were attracted to Unreal as a real time platform. And because of the visual quality, so this behind the scenes video, they kind of talked about why they chose it, which just kind of covered but it also shows the actors in the motion capture suits and they're in the big studio, and they've got these markers on the floor so that the actors know where to go and I though was interesting to see how real time animation is being used on this sort of Netflix level. And I watched the actual episode as well, because I hadn't seen it before. And it looks really good. I mean, I can see why they wanted to use Unreal, it's visually stunning. It's a bit gory and violent. So you if you're a bit sensitive to that, maybe avoid it, but it's really good. And, you know, it's really well made. And you can see the full effort into it. And one of the things I talked about in the behind the scenes videos, if they didn't have that real time, ability to render in real time, they would not have been able to make it because they just did not have the time to do rendered with the schedule they were given. So that's the only way they can make this story was to use Unreal. Fascinating.

Tracy Harwood 30:50
is interesting. Oh, no, it was a game changer, isn't it? Really?

Ricky Grove 30:54
It sure is. It's a bellwether for real time filmmaking. I'm surprised there aren't more machinima, filmmakers making films inside of Unreal, because it has all of the elements that early machinima communities were were crying out for, a marketplace where you could buy materials, characters and sets. It's free. It's got all of the elements that allow you to animate quickly, or mo cap quickly. Lip sync is built right into it. I mean, it's just got everything. Plus, you can do styles of rendering, you can do a cartoon style of rendering, you can combine live action with it with adjusting the render style. So wow, if you haven't tried out, Unreal Engine, now and you're listening to this, go over to that place, the download at the community is huge. Lots of tutorials, and see what you can make of it.

Damien Valentine 31:53
Free as well as free,

Ricky Grove 31:55
free, free free.

Tracy Harwood 31:57
I mean, I've got a theory on that. Really, I think they're all busy making tutorials with it at the moment not

Ricky Grove 32:04
mentioned that before.

Tracy Harwood 32:05
Yeah, I even talked to you know, even when when I was talking to John MacInnes about it. I was saying that, you know, really, we got to get these folks off these tutorials and into the creativity. There needs to be more competitions.

Damien Valentine 32:19
Tutorials are helpful, but you need to actually make something rather than Yes.

Tracy Harwood 32:27
Anyway, sorry, Damien.

Damien Valentine 32:29
Oh, sticking with Unreal. We talked a lot about how the Star Wars TV shows have used unreal for the Mandalorian and everything to create the virtual sets. But the Star Trek is also using it, the series have just finished Strange New Worlds used the virtual set technology to create the alien environments that they beamed down to, but also some of the environments on the ship, like the engine room, they didn't build the whole engine room set, they just had the front bit, some computer terminals, but then everything else behind us all virtual, and it looks stunning. I actually think they did better with it than the Star Wars shows that because the Star Wars shows mostly focused on desert planets, which, you know, it's nice to see something different, where Strange New Worlds lived up to its name, each planet looks very different, that there's one planet where it's all frozen, and the crashed ship in the background, and you got the characters they beam down, and they look around, and then they head off to that ship to investigate it. And I think that's a really good use of the technology. And it sure is, it looks better than some of the feature films that are still using green screen technology where you can tell that the actors are in front of, of it looks kind of like, I'm not quite as rough as the picture on my webcam now. But you can you can tell it's not real. But when you got this virtual environment, because it's actually there behind the actors. As they're there. They blend in better. So it looks more real, even though you know, they're not really on an alien planet, it looks like they are. And that's really important for a show like this where you want to believe the characters are there. And I think Strange New Worlds did it really well. Star Trek Discovery is also used this technology with strange new worlds is the first Star Trek show to use it entirely from the beginning from the first episode. They filmed it in Toronto, I believe. And they do share the virtual set with Discovery. So they kind of use it and then we've got one of these environments, so they have to take turns using it, which must be quite fun. Yeah, I think you know, it's another way to demonstrate how Unreal in this virtual environment technology has been used. And, you know, we've talked about it a lot before and I think we probably Well, again, there's more examples of it coming along.

Ricky Grove 34:53
Well Hollywood production is all about saving money. So the fact that they're shooting in Toronto and not Los Angeles at the Paramount Studios, which is the home of Star Trek is an indication that they're really into saving a lot of money. And using Unreal is another way to save money too. So I'm glad that that's happening. I'm disappointed that they're taking jobs away from California workers and giving it to Canadian workers. But that's been a trend that's been going on for a decade now. But Unreal, I think more and more productions are using that. And they're not just doing it on a one episode basis, they're doing like you say, they're figuring it into their production right from the very beginning. And I'm really glad to see that because I know Epic, is working with production companies and refining Unreal, as they come up with with new problems that the engine can't solve. And then they have a lot of money, and they have a lot of developers and researchers, and they solve that problem and then add it to the game, which is for free that you can get the benefit from in a year or so. So it's both positive and negative. So on that, but I want to emphasise the positive. I think that's great.

Tracy Harwood 36:13
Yeah, I mean, just to say, also, the next episode of the history, part of our podcast that Ben is actually about Unreal, and the background to it, and how they came to develop the Matinee tool. That's the background to the you know, the current iteration of it. Fascinating history. Yeah, you'll, you'll really enjoy that I'm sure.

Damien Valentine 36:40
The other part of it is also the speed because it's all rendered in real time. So if you have a green screen, and you've got your actors, and they perform the scene, they'll perform it. So they, their performance will be the same speed no matter what's the background is. But if you've got the green screen, and you're doing rendered backgrounds, you're going to spend months rendering those scenes in the background. Whereas if you've got the environment there, it's there. The footage is complete. If you want to add an extra laser beams or whatever, you can do that. But you're not having to do the whole environment. Yes. And that saves a lot of time, because they actually finished filming Season Two of Strange New Worlds before Season One had finished being podcast.

Ricky Grove 37:20
Oh, my goodness.

Damien Valentine 37:23
So that's that's gives you an idea of you know, how much speed as an increase there. And obviously, as a Star Trek fan, that makes me happy because it means not having to wait quite so long for the next episode that the season has finished. Yeah. So yeah, and I think another advantages, so I don't think anyone's taking us just yet. If you've got these virtual environments that are powered by Unreal, and you want to make a tie in video game, you can just take the assets straight from that, and put them in the video game, because they're already refined for real time use.

Ricky Grove 37:58
I'm sure that they figured that into the production,

Tracy Harwood 38:00
I have absolutely no doubt. John talked about it. And when we talking to John Gaeta, he was talking about how you can use use the assets in all in many different ways. So game film, social media, whatever it is you want to do with it. And you know, theatre and all the rest of it all can be used as a collective suite. So each kind of set of assets becomes like a little business model for its own

Damien Valentine 38:27
controlling production. So upcoming Star Wars and Star Trek video games are probably going to be used in the actual locations and props,

Ricky Grove 38:35
which I think is a creative, a good creative idea. Because if you're somebody who enjoyed that series, you're going Oh, my God, I'm in that. That actual space that was in the in the television series. Yeah, I think that's pretty cool.

Damien Valentine 38:49
And you know, it's something in the background that catches your eye, you can go in the in the video game, but I'm gonna have a close look at it. Well, that's really fascinating no matter what it is, yeah, absolutely. What you know, I

Tracy Harwood 38:59
want to go, Well, all I was gonna say was I bet that creates yet another set of IP issues. So because if you're using the same background, and it looks the same as in the film, and these studios are hot on what you can do with the film, and how you can use the film in YouTube and all the rest of it, how are you going to be able to use the game content with your own machinima? So that's going to create another minefield for creative content creators I think.

Ricky Grove 39:28
You're right. But then again, I'd like to point out that how many lawsuits have we seen, or takedown notices there haven't been that many. And so although you're taking a risk, it's not a sure thing that you're going to get your hand slapped if you use that material, especially since the argument can be that you're promoting material as well and you get proper credit. So I think it's 50 50 on that one. Yeah. I was gonna point out that it also does the the use of Unreal real time technology also helps the actors. Because unlike previous shows, earlier shows in television history, you couldn't see exactly where you were what you were doing. None of the original Star Trek actors knew what things look like, maybe they'd get a sketch or a painting. But that's it. But here, they can actually look on the monitor and see the world that they're in and then make adjustments. Oh, it's a it's dark. So I'll have to do this or if it's got this cold thing, like, you know what I mean, it gives them more imaginative material to work with. And as an actor, I think that's great. So I think it's helping the actors too.

Damien Valentine 40:46
Yeah, there was a scene in the Battlestar Galactica reboot, where you've got these two actors, and they're kind of huddled together looking up at the sky, because there's one Galactica has jumped in, it's dropping out of the sky. So it's one object coming down. We look at the two actors that huddled right next to each other. They're looking in complete opposite directions. Even though they're supposed to be both looking up to see what's going on. So looking like that.

Ricky Grove 41:12
That's where we're probably what happened was, they had to get that shot super fast. And they got it. And they didn't have time to go back because a good director would say, would see that in the monitor in the replay. Yeah. And then we go, Hey, you guys, we need to change the, you know, they'll they'll, they'll put a tripod, and then put a piece of a card with an X on it. Yeah, so people can look, both actors can look at the right place. But I'll guarantee they did that because they had no time. And they had to get that shot. Yeah,

Damien Valentine 41:46
is a very action packed episode. So I can see that before it'd be a rush to get

Tracy Harwood 41:51
old eagle eyed Damien's.

Damien Valentine 41:54
I love that sequence so much. I've watched it so many times that things like that started popping out to me. Yeah.

Ricky Grove 41:59
So as you have anything else, or

Damien Valentine 42:04
I got one more thing, it's not quite as cheerful as what we've been covering so far. Is the news that the Unity engine is merging with a company that produces malware? Oh, yeah. I don't really, I haven't really looked too closely at this. But I feel like if you're using Unity to create your machinima, you might want to keep an eye on updates that come because you might find yourself getting things installed new computer that you don't want

Ricky Grove 42:34
Ouch. That's really bad news. I don't know about it. Okay, because probably Unreal is just squashing them to death in terms of the market. But that's too bad. Because Unity has always been a very positive and supportive and growing market. And the only reason I can think of is financing, money.

Damien Valentine 43:00
is the same because I know you've been a champion of Unity for quite a while. So when I saw it, I thought, that's not going to end well if it puts people off using it.

Ricky Grove 43:11
So if you're using Unity or thinking of you using Unity, keep that in mind. Obviously, they're going to use their malware in any product that they take on or any application so check your updates to make sure and keep an eye out. We'll report on that and more in the future. Can you keep an eye on that for us Damien?

Damien Valentine 43:33
Yeah, anything else like find out I will cover in the future.

Ricky Grove 43:38
All right, I just got two short pieces of news

Ricky Grove 43:48
that I wanted to share with him both of them are much more positive than the Unity thing. In keeping with the Unreal thing, Epic Games has released an animation Field Guide. It's a free downloadable downloadable 120 page eBook on real time production, including case studies on the work of Sony Pictures Imageworks and DNA, d N e. G animation. It shows an overview of the differences between real time production using Unreal Engine and traditional offline rendering pipeline. The bulk of the content is mostly interviews with Unreal users. But still, it's a free downloadable. I think it's worth checking out if you're interested in real time filmmaking, because it'll give you all the basics of how that's done. If you're wondering how the Star Trek people are using it, you can download this thing we'll give a link for it in our show notes to make sure you can get the download. And I'm really glad they're doing that. Epic Games has been doing a good job of outreach and support and tutorials, tutorials, tutorials, so good for them. And then my last piece of news is an update on Nightmare Puppeteer by the person who was previously known as M Dot Strange. He is real name is Mike. He lives down in Santa Santa Marinus. Yeah. And San Jose? Well, it's Northern California. And I'm so glad to see that he's still working on this updates and additions and fixes. It costs 49 cents. And he frequently has sales, you get half price. So it's 24 cents the future, it's really the best buy, you can get because it's free. It's a game engine and allows you to make just crazy and strange and interesting animations. And if you know M Dot Strange's work is stuff is very experimental and strange and cookie. And I think he called himself one time the Walt Disney's of weirdos, which I think is a good way to put it exactly right. Some of the updates include new new modes, new rendering modes, and he's got like 20 or 25 of and you can render your entire scene as you do as you're working on something in just absolutely completely strange and wild looks including traditional stuff black and white and, and high noir look, you know, it's just terrific. He's got new effects, he's got new actors that he's added to it. And he also has his fascinating thing that, to my mind is the best addition, you can, he's always had the ability to put subtitles, in your, in your scenes, naturally occurring subtitles level time with the actors speaking, you know, which I thought just made it could could make it wonderful. But what he's done is he's allowed you to be able to do dialogue subtitles, that will randomly choose from a bank of, of, of text. So for example, if you wanted to do cookie Shakespeare, you could take a speech, a Hamlet speech, put it in the dialogue, and the engine will randomly choose lines and put them together. So you can have this sort of absurdist Shakespeare thing that you can in turn make a scene front with, you know what I mean? So you could do your own shakes cookie Shakespeare production, I just want to congratulate Mike for staying with it. And working on it and connecting because the use of the Nightmare engine has fallen off quite a bit since its original production a year year and a half ago. And yet he's still working hard on it. You can get the the this tool Nightmare Puppeteer on Steam. As I said for 49 cents, the new additions are in the experimental branch of it. And it's easy to access the experimental experimental branch, you download it and then you access by using a password. And he gives you the password. So it's very easy to do that way. You can use the experimental branch without screwing up anything that you're working on in the normal branch. You know what I mean? So kudos to Mike for Nightmare Puppeteer. And if you haven't used this and you like strange and unusual and kooky stuff, this is a great tool to use for that. And at 49 cents, it's essentially free.

Ricky Grove 48:42
And that's my news. Great stuff. Yep, yeah. Okay, everybody. Thank you very much for sharing your machinima news. I'm always fascinated after 20 plus years, that we're still having interesting and compelling news about machinima and machinima related technologies. That's very encouraging to me. Thank you all for listening. If you have comments on the news, or you want to get any downloads on some of the stuff we've done, we'll have them all in the show notes. Also, feedback on stuff that we've talked about, just talk at completely is a way to connect with us. So thank you, Tracy, and Damien. That's it for our news segment. We'll be back with our film section in the next video, thank you. Bye bye

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