using game engines for shorts

Hi Everyone, I saw a demo of Farcry 2 yesterday at a computer show-
Heres the thing, the world is so incredibly detailed, there is grass and wheat fields that you walk through, old broken tree stumps, trees, bushes etc- the environments are absolutely fantastic, and are 50 km squared!! which is huge- there are no load times, and those environments are in real time, and look better than any environment I have created in 3d, and left rendering overnight!

I use 3d packages to create stories- Im not interested in createing photorealistic content. and if I look at the majority of animations of aniboom or youtube I would assume a large majority of one man, and small non commercial teams feel the same way- I use 3d as a tool to achieve my end goal, which is to tell a story.

this is my thought-

these guys have an engine already built, they have textures, props, basically a full on 3d environment generator. the output is perfect for someone looking to make a short for youtube.
Now imagine this- they release a version of the engine, that has all the ai, and gaming elements stripped from it, but one that would be similar to bryce or blender in that you can use it to create little shorts. most of the elements are already there, you can move characters around, the environments are lush-in fact thinking about it, they must already have something like that to create the in-game cut sequences…
Theses guys could tap into an unexisting market, and with minimal work, create a 3d movie maker that renders in real time, and looks fantastic…

You’re right, that’s a great idea and many people are already doing that sort of thing. It’s called “machinima”.

These two links should get you up to speed:

I think it’s a valid form of art because, like you stated, the whole point is to tell a story. I’ve seen many things in games that easily rival well-rendered stills and animations.

I would probably use the Unreal Engine 3. That’s partly because I am an old Unreal addict, but also because the UT3 Collector’s Edition (or whatever it’s called) comes with 20 hours of video tutorials on using the Unreal Engine to build levels, machinima movie sequences etc.
There’s also a book by the same authors available called ‘Mastering Unreal Technology’. It does, however, only cover the old Unreal Engine 2.

it’s not an untapped marked. there are products like moviestorm already.

i still think though that blender with its integrated game engine is the most interesting approach to machinima. especially now with the overhauled apricot engine.

machinima’s been around a long time, and various engines have been put into play, all with varying strengths and weaknesses. Probably the biggest limitation on it being used more often is that many of the engines require licensing for commercial use, and it ain’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

Unreal’s engine is deep and wide but that strength makes its learning curve major deep as well. I made some very short machinima sequences with UE2.5 and the UEd 3 editor, built about 98% of the assets, did all the character models and animation, took nearly 5 months to get these two sequences locked:

I’d say the production time was comparable to what I might have spent if using Blender, now that I’m getting to know it as almost well as I did the UE, but that’s because I used mostly custom content, models and textures. The biggest boon of machinima is being able to use pre-produced game assets (such as the vast environments mentioned above), but usually only on a non-commercial basis unless licensed to do so.

If doing heavy custom content, the biggest benefit to using game tech imo is the real-time interactivity it can provide, as opposed to render-and-replay movies.

The biggest boon of machinima is being able to use pre-produced game assets (such as the vast environments mentioned above), but usually only on a non-commercial basis unless licensed to do so.
but this also makes most machinima movies look the same and uncreative. i am all for heavy custom content machinima. :slight_smile:

your movie download doesn’t work. do you also have it on youtube?

YouTube sux arse imo, cheap, cheap, cheap look, forced size & aspect ratio, least common (and I do mean common) denominator quality. No thanks.

Re: the link on my site. Do you mean it doesn’t download ('cause I just tried it and it’s a little slow but does d/l) or you don’t have a player that can play it (you need the Xvid codec)?

How about, Vimeo as an extra link? :confused:

Yeah, Vimeo seems like a higher-quality option, I’ll look into it. But one of the main probs with all the mass-video sites is that you (usually) have to have your original boiled down to meet the site’s streaming requirements, which can do unpleasant things to vids imo, but a lot depends on the site, so I’ll give it a shot and see how well theirs works.

until kernod mentioned it, I hadnt heard of machinima. That said, I havent yet come across a stand alone machinima editor, (Moviestorm, etc) that can produce nearly the quality and content that one of the higher level engines such as the unreal 2, or farcry 2 engine can, and as someone above mentioned above I doubt you can start using those for commercial use.

the machinima iv seen still looks like a game cut sequence, whereas the in-game farcry2 doesnt… imho it looks better than bryce. So if they had to release this, it may not be completely innovative, but it will take machinima to a whole new level

I agree, the one problem with the blender engine though is that you dont have all the pre-produced game assets such as chipmasque pointed out on the one hand, but as Kakapo said “also makes most machinima movies look the same and uncreative”

I agree fully, I dont particularly like the look of machinima

The original thought I had was that producing outdoor scenes was really difficult, and used a LOT of processing power, when I saw farcry2, I thought those environments are fantastic- I would love to base some of my outdoor scenes in those. So create your own characters, props etc in blender, and just use that lush scenery in the background- I mean check out some of these screen grabs and tell me you wouldnt sit down to a fear-factor meal of haggis and a tot of bile to have environments that look like that in your movies, that you dont have to spend a year creating…

Okay, I opened a Vimeo account and uploaded my machinima demo vid:

Metropolis Reborn



Personally I’d rather have full control over the movies I make, including commercial options. The new-gen game engines and upsurge in asset quality has indeed made “hobby” machinima a more attractive endeavor, but I dare say you’d choke on the price of a license a lot sooner than on haggis & bile :D, in the event you had a mind to earn come cash for your efforts. Six figures, minimum, if not more for the newer engines.

Many of the big games uses its engine for intro and cutscenes… For example look Gears of War: incredible quality…

I’ve been wondering about this lately myself ,but more along the lines of using the
Yo-frankie game to make a mod for this. Also endi used the new game engine features to produce some amazing scenes. A group effort on some good outdoor assets and import our own characters?

are you suggesting a pool where we can share game assets, backgrounds, props etc? if so, great idea-I would be keen for that

I think that would be nice. The first thing I would like to see is the BBB cast and environments in it. HEhe the loquat project

In a lot of ways, I realize that I have “stumbled upon” machinima-like techniques. (And the very-latest version of Blender looks to make it a lot easier.)

Basically, the idea is to use real-time rendering, by any means that the “we only wanna support a CPU renderer, so there!” Blender development community has not yet overlooked.

You can do a lot with the “preview render,” and with the old hack of doing “writeScreenShot” (whatever it’s called…) in GameBlender. You can produce in this way some very serviceable footage, and do it in real-time instead of waiting even “seconds” (much less “minutes”) for each frame to come out.

I find that this turns the entire workflow topsy-turvy, allowing you to experiment with things like camera-placement (with or without camera-motion) and … when you’re through “experimenting,” you have a usable shot.

“Machinima,” improvising the use of existing game-engines or existing games, is really just a very-improvised way of producing what Blender allows you to do very-directly. Access to GLSL shaders, and real-time shadows and so-forth (in the very latest Blender) is the final missing piece.

No, you don’t get a “theatrical quality render” as you can with a CPU-render pipeline (although you can get “pretty damn close to it…”). But you get it now. And if you then want to dovetail that into a post-production render pipeline for “sugaring,” you can do that.

I just took an early project that took days to render, and I’m now looking at the same thing (as good as it ever was, which admittedly isn’t much) in real time. :eek: