R2D2 Creator to Judge a Machinima Contest - And Explains the Pros & Cons of Machinima for Filmmakers


Tony Dyson, the veteran film effects creator who built the original R2D2 model, is judging a machinima contest, The Machinima 48 Hour Film Project. Known as Azar Shelman in SL, Dyson designed the original R2D2 for Star Wars, then built eight copies of the beloved droid for The Empire Strikes Back. And speaking as a veteran filmmaker, he's now interested in machinima as a new platform:

"I think 'machinima' has the same untapped potential that we found when we switched over from early animated films using frame by frame drawings to Computer Generated Images (CGI)," he tells me by e-mail. "[T]he secret is not only to spot and learn what new potential this platform may open up to the film maker, but to also identify exactly what are the negative aspects of this new media, only then can we really move forward."

The benefits: "[L]ow investment and production costs plus speed of production will open up a vast new market place in today's digital world, for example in Education, Entertainment and Advertising fields..." The challenges: "[L]earning about the differences in camera techniques involved... [and working] in a totally new world, a 'virtual world' that has a very strong culture of its very own. This brave new world... has a very steep learning curve for many, but the rewards are and will be truly amazing for any one that has the imagination to meet this challenge.

Read all the details for the contest here, and more background on the blog of Chantal Harvey, who's running it.

Update, 9/12: Corrected original description from "Second Life machinima" contest, as machinima from other platforms are also accepted. Apologies for the error. See more details in Comments.

Einstein Avatar Contest Extended to September 16

The contest to create the official SL avatar of Albert Einstein has been extended to September 16th at 11:59 PM EST. Because creating the metaverse representation of the 20th century's greatest mind, that shit takes time. Read more background about the contest here, and click here for all the contest details.

Einstein's Official Avatar is Coming to Second Life & There's a USD$2500 Contest to Recreate Him for the Digital Age (UPDATE: Deadline Extended)

Einstein Avatar

The official avatar for Albert Einstein is coming soon to Second Life and social media to promote medical research, and there's a contest to create him, with $2500 in cash prizes for the top three entries. By "official", I mean it's being done with the authorization of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the rights to Einstein's likeness, and by "coming to SL", I mean the avatar is going to make appearances in-world, as well as in machinima made for audiences outside SL, to promote medical research fundraising for the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, or IMRIC. It's a campaign being run by Remedy Communications, the social media firm of Doug Thompson, a longtime SL advocate. (In-world, he's Dusan Writer.)

"We were approached by an international research collaboration that funds medical research across a huge range of conditions and needs," Doug explains to me via e-mail. "IMRIC requested permission from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the rights to the Einstein image, to use it in an international fundraising and awareness campaign across social media and virtual worlds."

Here's how avatar Einstein will be used in this campaign:

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International Machinima Festival Taking Entries

Machinima Festival

The Netherlands-based MaMachinima International Festival is taking entries for this year's fest, which hits June 17. (No idea what the extra "Ma" is for, but there you go.) The brainchild of Second Life machinimist Chantal Harvey, the festival will also screen in-world, but you can submit videos made on other 3D platforms (say, World of Warcraft or , Portal 2). Submission deadline is May 1st, and therefore hurry: Click here to do so for God's sake.

Half a Million Linden Dollar Second Life Machinima Contest

Second Life Machinima Contest

The University of Western Australia is sponsoring a Second Life machinima contest with prizes totaling L$500,000. The theme is Journeys, the submission deadline is May 1st. Read more here.

Tribeca Film Institute's New Media Fund Open to Financing Machinima Projects for $50-100K

Deniro Tribeca Machinima

Machinima makers, click this link, because it's big news: The renowned Tribeca Film Institute, co-founded by Robert DeNiro and affiliated with the influential Tribeca Film Festival, just announced the TFI New Media Fund, which will finance "four to eight non-fiction projects... [with] a non-fiction story focused on social issues and include an integrated cross-platform or new media component", each getting $50,000 to $100,000 in funding. As the Tribeca publicist who told me about this pointed out, among the new media forms they'll specifically accept is video games, i.e. machinima. Submissions start on April 4, but they're now taking feedback from media producers interested in the Fund -- go here to participate.

Two Virtual World Contests for Art and Halloween

Harper Ganesvoort has a Halloween photography contest for members of multiple virtual worlds (though you need to also have an SL account, to claim your L$ winnings.) Also, the University of Western Australia campus on Second Life in holding a massive Art & Design Challenge contest, and is taking votes on the winners from the public. Here's how to check out the art and vote on it.

Banned Books Machinima Contest for the American Library Association

I just got late word that the American Library Association has a presence in Second Life, and that they're running SL-based promotions around their annual Banned Books Week. Among the most promising is a machinima contest around the theme “Think for yourself and let others do the same”. Winner gets L$10,000 and their video hosted on the ALA's site. Even better, it's for an awesome cause. Deadline is September 25 -- Moonletters has the rest of the details.

Peter Greenaway Joins Machinima Contest Jury!

Peter Greenaway

Peter Greenaway, the acclaimed British director of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover with Helen Mirren, and The Pillow Book with Ewan McGregor, will be a judge on the 48 Hour Machinima Film Project I mentioned last week. Greenaway is probably the most renowned real life film director ever to judge a machinima contest, so this is a great recognition for the medium. That it's Greenaway is not entirely surprising, because as 48 Hour curator Chantal Harvey notes, Greenaway has been involved in other machinima/Second Life art projects, registering his support for the embattled Second Life art of Rose Borchovski, and with The Blue Planet, a multimedia theatrical production by Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke which incorporates Second Life machinima. Knowing this background, Chantal contacted the director about joining the panel, and is duly stoked to have him involved: "To have a real life filmmaker in the jury is like a major recognition for the teams and their work, and [machinima] being the creative new way for young people to film -- makes this so very different."

And now you have another reason to join the contest: Go here for all the details and to start the sign-up process.

Hat tip: Bevan Whitfield

Can You Make a Great Machinima in 48 Hours? Contest Now Open, Produced By Chantal Harvey

48 Hour Film Project

The 48 Hour Film Project is a long-running, widely covered guerrilla filmmaking contest that challenges people in cities around the world to make a halfway decent movie in two days. The contest recently added a machinima arm, and well-known Second Life machinimator Chantal Harvey is producing it. Along with Second Life, you can make machinima entries in World of Warcraft, Twinity, Half-Life, Moviestorm, iClone, the Movies, Grand Theft Auto, and more. "All rights have to be owned, and all has to be shot in real time, during the 48 hours of the contest," Chantal tells me. "Winning machinima will be screened at Filmapalooza Festival, and the 10 best films from that festival go to Cannes."

Go here for all the rules and registration page. Entry fee is $48, which may seem steep, but is actually much less than the fee you'd pay to enter a real world film in the contest. Plus I'll be covering the winners/runners up here!

Update, 8/19: In case you needed even more incentive, Chantal adds that the winning machinimas will be screened at the next Miami International Film Festival. Which is a perfect fit, because a lot of folks in Miami already look like avatars.