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The Demise Premiere: A Director's Message

We had a very enjoyable Premiere for Surgee's (Daniel Wasiluk) film "The Demise" yesterday at Hathead's Island in the virtual world Second Life. Approximately 15 people showed up for a screening of the film and a short audio message from the director. For those who couldn't make it, here is what Surgee had to say: (press the play button to listen)

Surgee's method of using Photoshop to create layered images for "The Demise" was a labor-intensive, but wonderful choice for the art design of the film and for adding simple facial expressions. By taking a snapshot in WoW model viewer of the shot/angle he's going to use in the film, then removing everything but the part of the model he wants to modify, and finally using the "liquid" tool to change a facial expression for example, he was able to import the image and use a simple cross-fade in Sony Vegas DV editor to create the effect (facial expressions). And by hand-drawing almost all of the backgrounds, he created a unique style for "The Demise" that is missing in most other WoW machinima.

We were also impressed with how Surgee created such a simple, yet beautiful style for the story he was trying to tell. In an email to me, Surgee said his "goal was to touch people's emotions". Considering the great response to the film, he certainly has succeeded. Here's part of an email Surgee sent me in response to questions about the film:

So here it goes:

Storyline: Adopted by rich and very strict couple from Silvermoon ,little Alasse is deprived of her childhood. One night as she looks out of the window, she sees a strange, bright light comming from a nearby forest. Night is the only time when guards hired by Alasses parents don`t follow her.She decides to take her chances and sneak out through the window, to check out the mysterious light. This isn't another simple story about incredible people and heroic acts.This is a breathtaking story, about simple people, forbidden love, hope and drama.

Making of :

1. The idea

The idea for this film came when I saw an annoucement about WWI Machinima Contest. Few months before, I made two short films from World of Warcraft. They appeared to be succesful and I wasn't even thinking that they would be so popular. At first I wasn't thinking seriously about taking part in this contest, but my girlfriend convinced me to give it a shot.

2. Genre
With my movies, I wanted to bring out people's emotions. With my last two movies, I made people laugh. But with "The Demise" my goal was to touch the audience's deeper emotions, like compassion, sympathy, maybe sadness. It was a great challenge for me and I'm happy that it found so many viewers all over the world. It was very risky because it is much easier to win people's hearts by making them laugh than with making them cry.

3. Development
Before I started developing this movie, I've decided to make it look unique and innovative (the first WoW machinima to show real heros' emotions-moving lips, eyes, eyebrows,facial muscles,tears). To do so, I've "photoshopped" nearly every object and character. On top of that, every background was drawn by me, except the town background in one of first scenes (this one was a recorded scene with later usage of Photoshop). To add more realistic animation to greater objects (ex. writing hand,"Magical Tree",etc.) I had to create many smaller ones and animate them separately. To keep it in this unique style, I didn't use any video editing software's built-in effects (except simple blur and chroma keyer to cut blue background off).

The intention was to make this film understandable without any voice acting. Because of the contest's time limitation (four minutes) I had to compress the whole story so it would be very short and clear. I am an autodidact. I haven't studied any tutorials or whatsoever. For example, I could see a scene with my imagination but I wasn't quite sure how to bring it to life so I was just experimenting till I reached the desired final look. All in all, I'm very happy how it turned out.

Because of my very slow computer (which unfortunately I don't have anymore), the whole project costed me a lot of time (about 3 weeks) and trash bags for empty coffe cups:). If I had a chance, I would improve my skills by setting up the bar a little bit higher with my every next production.

We also discussed the music in the film and how much we all liked it. Since there were no credits at the end of the film, we don't know what the music was or who composed it. I've got an email question sent to Surgee to get an answer to that question.

I'd also like to re-iterate that Surgee is without a computer because he had to sell the old one in order to get by financially. I asked for donations towards Surgee's computer and was very pleased that so many people donated. Surgee sends his thanks. And if you care to donate via this blog, just leave a comment and I'll tell you how to send money via Paypal. Let's get Surgee back to making films again.

My thanks to Hathead for running the event so smoothly and for letting us use his great (and newly designed) space. And I enjoyed talking with you all. Your participation and support of Machiniplex really makes it worth the time and effort to get these great films screened.

  1. Blogger Pineapple Pictures | August 26, 2008 at 1:39 AM |  

    Thanks again for organising this event, and to Hathead for his generosity in hosting the screening / discussion. This kind of live discussion is really valuable, especially when as a group of film-makers we live so far apart. Kate

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