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Ivy Film Festival 2009

The Ivy Film Festival Machinima Competition has been through its judging period for both the audience and jury awards, and I just wanted to point out a few of the finalists that I thought were worthy of mentioning.

First is Damien Valentine's Star Wars: A Galaxy in Darkness, jury award winner and by far the highest production value of the group. This fourth installment in Valentine's "Darkness Saga" is worth a watch. In fact, all four of the films are worth a watch (if you have about 3 hours spare), as it shows the five-year progression of a filmmaker's talents as he learns new skills, fine-tunes his craft, and takes increasingly greater advantage of the gaming and modding technologies he is using to create the story, which combines well-written scripts with acting voiced by both professionals and talented amateurs.

A Galaxy in Darkness adds what was most lacking in all the previous films: lip sync. Valentine had recorded most of his footage before learning the technique to create lip sync in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, after which he had to re-record that footage to include it. Over the previous films Valentine had intertwined the JKA footage with epic space battles using Star Wars: Empire at War and its sequels, which provide high resolution, highly coordinated combat scenarios. Editing the footage from these very different games together results in a well-crafted fan film that is sure to please Star Wars fans, machinima enthusiasts, and general audiences.

Second on my list of watchables is the audience award winner, Flying. This is a short piece that vaguely reminded me of Wall-E in that it is about a robot with personality. The animation of the robot is very well done in that it conveys emotion from what is otherwise a chunk of steel with arms. The theme of breaking free of monotony and following your passion usually works well with non-living subjects, as it does in this story of a robot who wants to get off the assembly line and fly. While I was most impressed by the conveyance of frustration at the robot's ill-fated attempts at liftoff, the light-hearted (and explosive) humor is also well-timed if a little campy.

Congratulations to both these films on their achievement in the Ivy Film Festival 2009.

Two other films in the finalist list worth a watch are Hurt, which is perhaps a bit over-dramatic but entertaining for its five-minute length, and Nintendo Bushido, a mash-up that is well-composited and well-edited if a bit long.

-- Ingrid

Machinima and Copyright Conference

...It has been hailed as the art form of the 21st century.
...It is redefining music videos.
...And reinventing the videogame.
...It might be the future of cinema.

But there's a catch: if you make machinima, you might be breaking the law.

Or are you?

Find out at Stanford University. "Play Machinima Law" from April 24-25, 2009."

I don't know if they'll be offering any new information but it could be interesting to see what comes out of here. More details at the site. Thanks to Amy for letting me know about this.