Second Life Machinima Simulates Video Game for Scene in Hollywood Movie *Role Models* (With Paul Rudd & McLovin!)
If you saw the 2008 hit movie Role Models, you may remember the scene in the coffee shop where Paul Rudd gets pwned playing a computer game against Christopher Mintz-Plasse -- or as he'll be forever known, McLovin. As it turns out, they aren't actually playing a game, because they're really just looking at machinima video footage created in Second Life. Watch this scene closely, just uploaded courtesy Damien Fate, who helped develop it (warning: contains ruddy language):
The machinima was created by ILL Clan Studios, who were tasked by Role Models' producers to create a cost-effective simulation of a game which fit the script:
"They needed shots that looked somewhat like a 3D side-scrolling fighting game (like Street Fighter or Tekken) but with medieval knights," Ill Clan's Frank Dellario (illbixby Cerveau in SL) tells me. "One character had to look like the actor Paul Rudd and the other like Christopher Mintz-Plasse, so we created custom-skinned avatars and did some back and forth with them till they were happy with the likeness of the actors, the costumes, the custom sword fight animations and the graphics that simulated the look of the game (health bar going down, particle effects, etc.)"
Ordinarily, this kind of production might be done from scratch with 3D animation software, or a customized version of an existing videogame (after the rights had been licensed from the game publisher), but that wasn't feasible in this case.
Says Frank, "The film by Hollywood standards was low budget, so machinima fit their needs, our rate was good but well below what they probably would have paid if they went with custom CGI animation, especially for custom characters that looked like the actors."
There's another reason why an actual videogame wasn't feasible for the scene:
"All they needed were Quicktime [videos] to play on the actors' laptops versus have them actually play a game. It was important for the scene that Paul Rudd's character lose the game. And on a film set, you needed that stuff to be [shown] repeatedly for take after take."
Production took took about two and a half weeks total, Frank estimates, with a budget somewhere in the five figure range. Were it done in CGI or with a licensed game, I'm guessing the final bill would have added another zero. Given all the video game-like content now featured in TV and movies, it's a wonder other film producers don't reach for Second Life as a solution.
Plus there's an added side benefit: Somewhere in Second Life, there's a mighty warrior who looks like McLovin.