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Machinima Project

I (Lisbeth Frølunde) am a postdoc researcher running a project on Machinima (a term referring to machine, cinema and anime). I see the study as a journey into 3D worlds and games to meet machinimators (filmmakers).

IRL: LisbethF, SL: Lamaya Nordenskiold

A study of Machinima as a creative practice

The study involves:

1) Individual interviews with 13 machinimators about their machinima filmmaking experiences.

2) Interviews with various machinima “experts” so as to map emerging practices within machinima.

3) Following a group of artists creating an installation in Second Life and machinima (tentative).

Aim and outcome

The primary aim of the research is to gain insight into the dynamics of the creative process of filmmaking in virtual worlds (machinima). Secondarily, to gain knowledge about entrepreneurship in the creative industries in virtual worlds, with focus on machinima.
The outcome of the study is a better understanding of the creative and “semiotic” practices of machinimators in regards to the contexts, the technologies, the learning process.
The results will address what is unique about machinima, such as, what sort of meanings it allows filmmakers to express (or not), its low cost, and copyright issues. I will also explore how machinima relates to entrepreneurship.

More information on the phases of data production:

1) A short survey and follow-up individual interviews with the 13 machinimators from a contest that had to relate to the theme of superheroes and relate to the area Metrotopia (RUC’s island in Second Life). It was sponsored by RUC. I am especially interested in what sort of meanings the machinimators ascribe to their work.

2) Talks with a few machinima scholars/experts in order to “map” machinima as an emerging practice. These talks will (hopefully, she adds) help me gain an overview of machinima, because it is fragmented into communities around a particular game engine or world.
There seems to be a wide spectrum of people, amateurs (or novices), pro-ams (professional amateurs) and professionals involved in machinima. I am interested in understanding this spectrum- exploring the mix of people doing machinima, what motivates different “machinimators” and what sorts of filmmaking practices are evolving.

My talks with scholars/experts include the following :

  • Henry Lowood, PhD, see Henry’s blog and the amazing Machinima Archive (a project he runs at Stanford U.)
  • DJ Bad Vegan aka Brant Smith, making In-World War, an indie sci-fi feature, a futuristic story of a debt-ridden and depressed beta tester trapped in a buggy virtual reality simulation of the “war on terror”.
  • James (Jim) Barrett, an Aussie-Swedish PhD student, who blogs on machinima among other topics. See upcoming book of essays on Machinima, abstracts due August 30, 2010.

3) If possible, the data extends to include several artists, such as a group organizing under Netfilmmakers for an exhibit in fall of 2010, pending funding.

  • See the Netfilmmakers website especially their exhibit Real-Unreal, 2009.
  • The Real-Unreal show included a talk with among others, Alan Sondheim, a philosopher, poet and artist in NYC, who experiments with avatar bodies and motion capture. Alan was interviewed in 2009 in the arts journal Kopenhagen.
  • I have since interviewed Alan at length about his work and am working on writing this up.

For further information, see my profile on RUC website.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Pop Art Lab Machinima Contest – Virtual Worlds Research Project linked to this post on 2010/03/12

    [...] Machinima [...]

  2. Lisbeth Frølunde linked to this post on 2010/04/01

    [...] My project is on Machinima (filmmaking in virtual worlds and games) as a creative practice, especially investigating the perspective of the machinimator (filmmaker). [...]

  3. Virtual Worlds | GMaC at Ecrea 2010 linked to this post on 2010/10/20

    [...] computer games). In particular, she presented her work on the “machinimators” partaking in the Metrotopia Contest, who submitted entries shot in the virtual city of Metrotopia in SL, which was developed by [...]

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