Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Sense of Community

Over at TMUnderground, there are some discussions going on right now which make me think about that elusive thing that is a community.

As maybe most of you know, TMUnderground was started by Ken when The Movies Online crashed and didn't come back up for a month - despite Lionhead's assurances that there were no plans to discontinue the service, most of us felt the end was nigh - and ultimately, we were proven right shortly afterwards.

From the start, Ken planned TMU to be a platform for all kinds of machinima movie makers - a place for discussion, promoting your films, getting feedback, finding people to work with, sharing and learning. I was (and still am!) so excited about this!

When a lot of us started using new engines and getting involved in the respective communities, we also invited people over to TMU - to upload their films, discuss and promote their work on our forums; in short, get involved, and in the process widen all our horizons.

Since then, I have learned the hard way how difficult that seems to be.

Yes, some people followed the invitation and joined - but on the whole, they are far and few between; and what's more, there's even some discussion about 'loyalty' to the engine you use - meaning you can't feel at home in a community that uses diverse means to express it's creativity.

What a load of (excuse me) bull!
Is it true? Can there only be a true sense of community when everyone uses the same engine to make films? Can't we discuss topics that apply to machinima in general and still feel a sense of community? Are we all wearing blinders, only ever able to see what's on our plate, so to speak?

Are we watching films because of the engine they were made with, or do we watch them for the story, for the visual artistry?

Seems that a lot of people lose interest the moment the story isn't told using the engine of their choice - which personally makes me sad and angry, because it's doing the machinima/anymation genre - however you choose to call it - a disservice. I really feel we shouldn't squander our time with discussion about iClone versus Moviestorm versus The Movies versus WoW.. and is machinima made with a program purposely designed for it machinima at all' - I even feel that's the reason that machinima isn't taken seriously by a lot of people.

Do we really need to categorise everything in little compartments, is there not a chance that people can meet and talk, and get a sense of community without the limited, 'you either use the same engine I do or we won't ever see eye to eye' view? Do we fear to venture out of the places were we know the viewer knows every little quirk of the program we use? Is it really necessary to feel compelled to defend your engine of choice the whole time?

I sincerly hope not, and thankfully there are people around who do watch and comment without prejudice, but they are still too few.

Your thoughts?


7 Kommentare:

IceAxe said...

Totally agree. I remember seeing movie feedback comments on that said things like "Not a fan of the engine, but pretty good" etc. "Not a fan of the engine"? What does that have to do with anything? For me, I strive to make movies that people want to watch, not because of *how* it was done, but because there's a good story, or it's visually interesting. In fact, I've noticed that a lot of respected machinimators put a lot of effort into making the base platform of their movies less obvious, as if to say "stop thinking about the technology and technique, and enjoy the movie!".
Usually it's fairly obvious what platform(s) have been used, but that shouldn't get in the way of how you judge a movie.

And with regard to getting people to come over to TMU and participate, I'd simply say you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Don't be disheartened if people don't immediately jump on in. As you know it took me a while to warm to TMU forums, although I've found them to be a welcoming and enthusiastic bunch. The redesign of certain other sites should have been a catalyst to grow audience at TMU though, and I don't know if that has happened.

Norrie said...

Like Sisch, I hoped TMU would be a Grown Up place: I was wrong. I've been call elitist in the past, and I wear the badge honourably. Morons complaining about TMU allowing non TM films is merely indicative of the general malaise.
It seems to me that most threads are about three things: "ME ME ME". Far too many people aren't interested in just watching a film for the enjoyment; there has to be something in it for them: whether it's a chance to snag a good VA, increased kudos, or a charlatan looking to get people to click his PayPal account.

When I see guys like Capemedia ONLY commenting on iClone stuff, it bothers me. When I see Uber make snidey, sarcy, weaselly comments about iClone and MS, it angers me. When I see JizzX say I made an MS pile of shite in 20 minutes, so MS is crap, it makes me rage... and well, you know the rest.

The fact of the matter is this: (beware, supreme arrogant ranting coming up) TMU WOULD be the place we hoped it would be if it stopped trying to be so fecking nice and chummy. I'm sorry, but the constant drivel by Mav, Jakey, Beaty, Geoff, etc. has turned many off. The place is a kindergarten most of the time... just click recent posts if you doubt.

I have always had a problem with "community" and "forum". Too many kiddies think forum means chatroom, not a medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged. Too many kiddies think that the community is a place they can demand, not a group of people having a particular characteristic in common. Too many people are selfish, thinking only "What's in it for me?"

OK, I've gone on a bit. Probably chaotic, but it was a stream of thought I won't edit.

Killian said...

I typed a shedload here but then lost it all... most of it stream of consciousness stuff... bah humbuggery...

Anyway, to sum up, at the end of the day the most important thing about ANY 3d animation, movie, whatever is a) was it a good story? b) was it well told (script, acting, etc)? and only a distant third is the "eye candy" (i.e. what it was made with and how it looks).

People are people, ultimately; some folk will carry unreasoning dislike of something because a) they don't like/can't get a handle on the software, b) dislike someone who uses that software or c) a combination of the above. Repeated attempts to smash through prejudice in the majority of these cases will fail, unfortunately, so I feel that there is little point in "preaching to the unconvertable".

As for me, I'm eyeing up Moviestorm for potential use in the future (purely as it is much more affordable to me than iClone is).

Del said...

When I first clicked on 'Online' inside The Movies software and uploaded my debut Random Rather Bad Movie, one or two thoughts went through my head.
The first and foremost was a question. Who the hell reviewed these Random Rather Bad Movies? I considered an automated service, similar to that of the in game reviews, perhaps accenting user reviews. I also considered that Lionhead might have reviewers, very briefly before I activated my common sense.

But the common thread in my thoughts was a quiet disbelief that what people were making with The Movies was really worth watching. There was a sense amongst the younger movie makers that they were stringing animations together that they foolishly believed those elusive People Who Actually Enjoy This Kind of Thing would actually thoroughly enjoy. It was all kind of 'Let's pretend to make movies' at that stage, and whenever something actually artistically inventive came along it was something of an oddity. An enigmatic nugget of a substance called Strange amongst a myriad of mediocrity.

Generally, movies made with game engines were something I'd watch because, sadly enough, they'd make me laugh. If it wasn't short snappy and funny, me as the average internet user wasn't particularly willing to extend their already stunted attention span. I have a huge collection of DVD's made by 'real' filmmakers who actually that I'd more readily watch than something made by someone I have never really heard of. And I can't even watch them on the couch, I have to be at my PC! You can see the dilemma of course.

As a quick disclaimer though, I don't believe there is such thing as 'real' filmmakers. But by and large that is likely what the majority of internet users will think.

So the very act of watching a movie made with a game engine is an activity that a very tiny minority actually want to do. When it's a movie made with a game engine you make movies with, you can understand what kind of work went into it, you can appreciate it on a whole different level. It's difficult for us, who have dabbled in this software ourselves, to view this from the perspective of someone who doesn't particularly care about the difference between live action and animation so long as it is entertaining. And they sure as hell don't care about the difference between animating and molding preset scenes to your whim.

Like Norrie is saying, it's not a very grown up perspective, but have you had a look around the internet lately? Is it really a shining example of human maturity?

It is my view that Machinima movie makers are in the completely wrong place to display their incredible talents and tell bloody good stories. It's kind of like reading the Iliad and the Oddysey to your kids and making the tragic mistake of mentioning it was written by a Greek called Homer.
Movie makers like yourself Sisch belong in a place where your work will be widely viewed by an audience who appreciates what you do. And unfortunately most of these kind of people are buying and selling on eBay, searching for recipes on Google, and becoming a fan of Donnie Darko on Facebook, all the while blitheringly unaware of this treasure trove of first class entertainment you and so many other machinima/anymation filmmakers are producing.

TL;DR - You deserve better.

Dulci said...

The people who have joined the community as active individuals (like IceAxe above) have been gems. I'd rather see a slow growth of quality people than a mass influx of the me, me me! crowd.

Always perculating under the surface at TMU is a solid core of talented individuals who can offer so much in terms of creativity.

I still have faith! But not the energy to be a torch-bearer.

Norrie said...

Jesus Del, what's happened to you? I'm sad that the guy who made Distance has turned into this pseudo-intellectual spewer of cliches.

Probably the wrong place to say this, but yikes!

Sorry Del. For whatever has made you like this. I can't believe how cynical you are (and this is me saying it)

Sprecheragentur said...

Thanks, I like it even in 2016 :-)

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