Shot on a Panasonic GH2 with hacked firmware and a Canon FD 50mm f/1.4, no color correction. The trains are an annual holiday display at the Roberson Museum in Binghamton, NY. Music graciously provided by the wonderful band The Octopus Project.

Watch on Vimeo or download from the Internet Archive.

Roger Ho has a great eye. He also has really impressive focus-pulling ability. Check out this video he shot of The Octopus Project playing in Dallas on Thursday night.

Also, Roger Ho is an enigma. What’s your story, Roger? Drop me a line.


Update: they posted the winners

You can read the list of Mackie winners on Machinima.org.

We won! Tonight at the Machinima Filmfest 2008, This Spartan Life won a Mackie for Best Series. Woohoo! Thank you to the Academy, the judges, the festival sponsors, our friends on the forum who help us shoot every episode, and Chris for getting me involved in the show.

If you’re a fan of the show, here’s a sneak peek at the as-yet-unreleased Episode Six that we submitted to the festival. If you’re new to This Spartan Life, watch the trailer for some context, and then our past episodes if you’d like to see more. Oh, and here’s the award itself, which was made in Eyebeam’s 3D printer. It’s more red in real life and is made of plastic, not cheese.


WTF? TSL and machinima explained

If the paragraph above means nothing to you, let me explain. This Spartan Life is a talk show set in the game Halo 3 on XBox Live. We interview real life guests (artists, musicians, academics, entrepreneurs) using Halo as our soundstage. In plain English, we sit our guests down, slap a controller in their hands, and walk around the online gamespace with them while discussing their work — it’s animation on the cheap, using off-the-shelf game consoles. We record the audio and video straight out of the XBox and edit it into episodes that we distribute online. The show has music, dancing, and storylines from a cast of recurring characters (myself included) and devoted fans of the show as extras and bit players. I do the cinematography with Chris.

My favorites

There were some amazing, beautiful films in the festival this year. Here are some of my favorites.

The Ship, Egils Mednis (Latvia): A stark, restrained vision of two hungry wanderers in a bleak Arctic landscape, well deserving of the Best of the Fest Mackie it won. In the field of machinima, which frequently leans towards pastiche and self-reference (to gaming), this beautiful film stood out.

Zachariah Scott (U.S.A.) Ignis Solus, Zachariah Scott (U.S.A.): Like The Ship, Ignis Solus told a wordless, visual story, with wit, charm and “invisible” cinematography: so good that you didn’t notice it.

Ian Chisholm (U.K.) Clear Skies, Ian Chisholm (U.K.): Excellent voice acting and a tight script full of deliciously dry British sarcasm and wit.

Smooth Few Films (U.S.A) A Day in the Life of a Turret, Smooth Few Films (U.S.A): I don’t know if this one will make sense to people who haven’t played Portal or follow Internet memes and I don’t care: it’s really funny and the music perfectly underscores the mood and timing.

Andrzej Kozlowski (Austria) Apocalypsis Ex Machina, Andrzej Kozlowski (Austria): Purely on a mind-bending, symbol-jamming level, this is worth seeing. On top of that, it’s got the technical wow factor for the intricate workings of its churning, glowing machine.

Virtual Video Project, Global Kids (U.S.A.) Race to Equality, Virtual Video Project, Global Kids (U.S.A.): I was a bit disappointed that my students from the Virtual Video Project didn’t win for Best Student Work, but happy to see them honored for all their hard work and study. They also spoke on one of the panels with my co-teacher Tabitha Tsai.

Olli Viljanen (Finland) The Device Has Been Modified, Olli Viljanen (Finland): A fun, stylish music video that mashed up imagery and dialogue from Portal with video shot in World of Warcraft.