Though Fantastic Fest introduces Fantastic Arcade for it’s first year as a celebration of the independent games industry, even within the Arcade lies a celebration and competition of a unique style of animated film-making with the 48-hour Machinima Challenge.
The competing films were all started on Sept. 10 and uploaded to the Fantastic Arcade site September 12. Aside from a Dell XPC 7100 PC and Dell Inspiron M501R notebook amongst the winnings for first and second prize teams respectively, winning participants will have their films screened at both Fantastic Arcade and the Alamo South Drafthouse as part of the World of Machinima Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm CST. In addition, a Best Actor/Actress award will be given out earning the performance a walk-on role on the series Red vs. Blue, produced by event sponsor Rooster Teeth Productions.
Burnie Burns, an event judge and managing partner of Rooster Teeth Productions, puts machinima in simplest terms as using video games as a form of real time animation.
“It’s as close as you’re going to get to real-time animation,” Burns says. “You can bend the rules of reality like in animation and still have it grounded in a performance. You could never do that with regular animation.”
For it’s efficiencies, Burns does say it can be really hard to be successful without cooperation. He credits the support and freedom Bungie and Microsoft allowed with Halo property as part of Red vs. Blue‘s success.
“You’re working in someone else’s property,” he said. “Not every company supports Machinima. Video game companies are becoming more protective of their properties.”
Alison Stroll, a judge and content manager for event sponsor Halo Waypoint, believes that the online machinima-making community enjoys a challenge and says the Waypoint team was excited to get involved.
The judges will be focusing on different aspects of the contestant submissions. Stroll will evaluate overall story and the ability of a film to surpass the limitations of the digital actors to tell that story. Something that makes her laugh will definitely stand-out, but a winner won’t necessarily be a comedy piece.
Stroll says she’ll leave the technical evaluation to Burn, whom is more of an expert being a filmmaker in the animation style. But Burns won’t exclusively be judge technical prowess as he’s looking heavily into the character performance as well that will determine the walk-on role winner for his show.
“We’re looking at the performance of the actor more than the character,” Burns says. A prospective winner will be someone that stands out as a voice-actor not sounding like anyone else on the Internet.
Both Burns and Stroll will participate in The World of Machinima panel preceding the screening of the contest winners. Burns will moderate as Paul Marino of the Machinima Academy of Arts & Sciences and Bioware, Daniel Miller of Smooth Few Films and Stroll make up the panelists for the 2:30 panel.