The Machinima Revolution

| Arts Extra Special

Digital hotshots are taking over video games and turning them into strange little moviesJust as digital video is making it cheaper and easier to capture real-world images in movies, digital insurgents have found a way to create computer-generated movies--mini-versions of Toy Story or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider--for practically nothing. The key is to use the programming platforms of video games--Doom, Quake, and the like--and, with editing software, alter, adapt, and otherwise tweak the game backgrounds and characters in accordance with an original script. Add sound and music, and presto! You've got your own movie, which can be distributed and enjoyed online. It's called machinima--'machine cinema'--and a growing number of devotees are producing quirky short films using the medium.Fountainhead Entertainment, a production company based in Mesquite, Texas, clubbed together with some machinimists to organize the first Machinima Film Festival in August 2002 and has begun work on a feature-length animated science-fiction film made entirely with machinima technology. With more sophisticated games debuting all the time, and better and better editing software too, the little films may become as vital and influential as zines and underground comics.Anjula Razdan