Spotlight on MarvellousGuppi

What led you to get involved with machinima?

Many years ago, I was playing the once great online game called Star Wars Galaxies. One day a guild mate told us all about this great little video that was made using SWG called Fett's Vette. I was aware that machinima existed but I hadn't really watched anything and I thought this was great. I thought to myself, hey I can do that, and so I got fraps and started making a few bits of nonsense (MarvellousGuppiMovies).

It was while I was planning on making a comedy tourist guide video to our player town that a couple of other guild members were talking about a new game coming out in which you could make your own animated movies. I was instantly interested, found out a bit more about it, then pre-ordered The Movies.

What aspects of movie-making do you enjoy the most?

I'd say editing, I enjoy putting a film together. I like writing to a certain degree, probably the same amount as I enjoy filming, but the best part is taking all that and turning it into something. That's one reason I did the videos for the Pengvin Crossing's Jack Chick comics. It was all recorded and I just had to edit the audio to the pictures, with a little bit of filming in the movies. It was fun.
( Angels, Fairytales, Flight 144 )

I'm looking forward to being able to move outside the constraints that uploading to TMO put us under.

What programs do you use to craft your work? Why did you choose these?

I use TheMovies, it's very familiar to me and I didn't really get along with Moviestorm. iclone looks interesting, and I might end up using that, but right now it's either get that or get stuff for the baby, and apparently the baby is a bigger priority (go figure).

I use audacity for sound, it's free and it does what I need it to do and again, I've become familiar with it.

I use both Blender and Photoshop for titles, overlays, anything of that sort. Blender is also free and is a very powerful piece of software, if you can get used to it. It can export animations into a series of image files for overlays or export to video as well, so it comes in very handy. My farewell to TMO movie (TMO Falls Down Stairs) was filmed completely in Blender.

I do have celtx, but I haven't actually used it to write a script in yet. Usually I just use notepad to convert my handwritten mess into something that makes sense.

I've only used outside editing on the Pengvin Crossing Chick Tracts. I used Magix, and, while not free, it was cheap. And for Flight 144 I got hold of a copy of Adobe After Effects. I will use those for any future projects.

How would you describe your movie style?

Not sure what my style is; I guess I'm a bare bones kinda director. Nothing too fancy, I'm certainly not this great cinematographer that agonizes over every camera angle.

Which of your movies best depicts that style? Why?

Pretty much all of them. But Short & Curly (part 1) was my first "big" movie, before the time of freecam and overlays. It was my first movie with voice overs, featuring a cast of my Star Wars Galaxies guild mates.

What are your proudest achievements in this field?

I think my favourite is Thong of the Dead 2 - Thongocalypse Now! I was happy with how it turned out, probably the happiest than with any other movie I've made. It was made for the Roger Thong competition and contains a lot of in-jokes which limits the audience a bit. I was also proud to be able to get Madangus and the VO legend Lizard to perform pig noises for the movie. I guess it was going back to how I started, making a movie for my friends.

My proudest achievement in modding has to be getting my first mod finished. I chose a hard one for my first. I wanted to replace the helicopter animations with a plane, but since it was replacing a helicopter it had to be capable of vertical take off and landing, so I chose the Harrier Jump Jet.

The information required to make an object 'flyable' was scattered all around The Movies Workshop site, and I spent quite a while trying to get it to fly. Finally it all came together and the first in game flying object was released.

You also do some terrific mod work. What can you tell us about that? What does modding involve when it comes to The Movies?

There's lots of different ways to mod the movies, from simple retextures, to new costumes, to custom built sets. However, unlike the other main machinima programs, The Movies wasn't built with modding in mind. It's been a long road to get to the level of modding we're at today. If it wasn't for the people at The Movies Workshop and now DCMF, picking apart the games code, I doubt anyone would still be using it.

It can be quite tough just getting a basic static prop into the game. First you have to overcome the first obstacle, Blender. You can use other programs to make your prop, but you still have to run it through blender to get it into the game.

Without going into the boring details, the way the import/export scripts are at the moment, there are a number of things that can cause your prop to fail at this stage. For the newcomer, this is where they have most problems.

Once that is done, there a few more files that need to be made before you can load up the game and see your new prop.

For anyone wanting to start modding, there are tutorials over at Directors Cut Modding Foundry, and you can ask questions on the forums there. Once you've done a mod or two it gets easier.

It can be a little hit and miss, but soon, DCMF will be releasing new import/export scripts for Blender which should make things easier, as well as add a few new tricks to the modding toolbox. I can't wait for that.

Since I can't voice act or compose music, I'm glad to be able to give something to the community in some way. It's always a pleasure to see a mod of mine in a movie.

Have you worked on projects with anyone else in the community?

If you don't count the custom modding, There have been a couple of projects. The biggest being Conquest : Beginnings.

Based in the universe created by K4ownzall and written by MUstachio26. It was interesting working on something I hadn't written. I enjoyed that challenge. It was also great working with K4 with all the modding and creating the look of Conquest. It was a shame that TMO crashed just a couple of days before the release date, and before TMU came along.

The other was the Ninjas Will Always Live Forever part 76 movie. Doc, king, monk, sg and I were in a skype conference and decided to make a ninja movie. There's a thread about it on the TMU forums here.

Do you have any projects on the horizon?

Well, I haven't heard anything from Mustachio about how Conquest part 2 is going, but I'm sure i'll be doing that at some point. I was going to enter the Remake Competition but at the moment I can't seem to think of any good ideas.

I'm sure i'll enter the Thong Competition next year since I do have to finish that trilogy. All I need is an idea.

So yeah, nothing set in stone, but that's how I work.

What advice would you give someone starting out with machinima?

Have fun with it.


Guppi said...

Thanks for the interview. It looks like I'm gonna be making an entry into the remake contest after all.

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