Hugh and Johnnie make it up as they go along. Again.
Carrie uses SC-patented Looking Shifty technology at Jered. Carrie doesn't look like this anymore. Neither does Jered. Erm ... sorry.
Shock Update: We're still making a film.
Yup, it's been business as usual at Strange Company Towers for the past few days. Ross is here at the moment trying to script a particularly complicated camera move. It's the first shot of the film, so no pressure there. It would probably have helped if we'd told him that he was using the wrong version of the camera movement pack (and therefore couldn't possibly achieve what he wanted, no matter how he hacked it), but that wouldn't have been anything like as much fun.
Hugh and I spent last weekend at the Bradford Animation Festival, along with Strange Company stalwart Alex Nuttgens. It was a superb festival, but sadly coincided with the fatal shooting of WPC Sharon Beshenivsky. The travel agent's at which the robbery took place is just behind the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television (one of the main venues for the festival), so we had to walk past the police cordon and the floral tributes at the scene several times. Many of the Strange Company team and assorted friends and hangers-on have friends and family in the Bradford area (myself included). It was extremely sad to pay a visit home only to be confronted with this tragedy. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the family of PC Beshenivsky, to the West Yorkshire Police Force, and to the community of Bradford.
Despite the sad events unfolding nearby, the festival was, I'm glad to say, a tremendous success. The festival organisers had placed a lot of emphasis on machinima - Ricard Gras was there as well, giving a very well-received talk on the state of machinima. Hugh and Alex ran a workshop on the Saturday morning, using Fountainhead's Machinimation 1 software to make a simple film in about three hours. Meanwhile, I ran a drop-in session letting people play with the same software. For some reason, I was told to set up my session in the bar, although I wasn't complaining.
"A whiskey and coke, and an emerging new rapid-development film medium please!"
"Coming right up, sir!"
Machinima - the stage show
The afternoon saw Alex taking over from me in the bar - I mean at the drop-in session - while Hugh and I presented an exclusive look at BloodSpell. We decided to try something a little ambitious, and networked a couple of PCs together on the stage. That's not the ambitious part, although it did give us an embarrasing amount of trouble. What we actually tried to do was to film the first few shots of BloodSpell live, there and then, during the course of the lecture. It worked stunningly well. Of course, it was rough and ready, and things went wrong, but as a demonstration of the power of machinima, it just couldn't be beaten. Producing twenty seconds of usable footage in about fifteen minutes is impressive in anybody's book, but when your audience consists entirely of traditional animators ... well, we rocked their world. Hugh and I estimated that a good two-thirds of the audience must have come up to us afterward to ask questions. Machinima is being taken very seriously by the animation community as a storyboarding and visualisation tool, and it was great to be able to show people first-hand what it can do. The recognition and respect that we received from so many hugely talented animators was also extremely gratifying. The film selection for the 2005 BAF awards is well worth a look.
We ate a lot of great curry, and drank a lot of beer. At the party after the awards ceremony, Hugh drank something that was bright blue, and I drank something that was bright pink. I popped over to my mum's house for Sunday lunch, had about three hours sleep then staggered onto a train back to Edinburgh in time for Monday's team meeting. Excellent fun all round. Thanks to are due to Tom Wooley and the rest of the BAF team for inviting us along, and basically treating us like royalty for a weekend. Both my parents and my future mother-in-law were in the audience, and now claim to "sort of understand this machinima thing a little better", so it must have been good.