2084 Calling Net Neutrality Campaign

Net neutrality video we produced in Source Filmmaker for a Bold Progressives campaign is live and is going out in an email blast today from NoSlowLane.com. Check it out and share.

Thanks to BoldProgressives.org, Keith Rouda, Adam Green and Laura Friedenbach.

This was a co-production with fellow machinima animation buddy Chris Burke. We’ve been collaborating on a new project and took time out to fight the good fight.

Fine work by Lee Eddy (voice), Nate Borman (animator), Jazmin Cano (modeler) and Andrew Smith (modeler).

Produced using Valve’s Source Filmmaker.

The Journal of Visual Culture – Machinima Issue

The Machinima Issue of the Journal of Visual Culture is out and I’m excited to say that my article on the future of machinima as a professional animation medium was accepted.

It’s one article among many from innovators and thought leaders in the machinima and visual media academic world. I’m honored to be associated with them, and hats off to Susan Rojo & Henry Lowood (Stanford University) and Matteo Bittanti (California Collage of Arts) for putting this issue together.

Partial list of authors:

Henry Lowood- Professor, Stanford Unv and Curator for History of Science & Technology Collections and Film & Media Collections in the Stanford University Libraries. He’s been a big enthusiast and supporter of machinima since the very beginning and manages the machinima archive.

Michael Nitsche- Professor, School of Literature, Communication & Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology, who’s written numerous papers on machinima and spoken on numerous machinima panels.

Tracy Harwood- Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Creative Technologies De Montfort University UK who co-produced the European machinima film festival and has written and spoken quite a bit on machinima.

Friedrich Kirschner and Hugh Hancock, pioneers of the medium, good friends and board members of AMAS.

Douglas Gayeton- A Super Creative and Director of the machinima HBO feature film ”Molotov Alva And His Search For The Creator: A Second Life Odyssey”

Flying into the 21st Century with Cel Shaded Superheroes

A 3D Animated Book Trailer for George Jack’s The Chip

21st Century Superhero The Chip

We’ve found that a great use for real-time animation is the book trailer:  a short video that promotes a book, much like a trailer for a movie. Book trailers are exciting for us because, unlike a movie trailer, a book trailer has no existing footage to edit from, so we get to visually bring an authors work to life for the viewer.

Our most recent book trailer is about a 21st Century Superhero named “The Chip” by author George Jack, who also scripted the trailer. In this video, we deviate from our traditional rendering technique by incorporating cel shading for the Chip’s superhero costume, brought to fruition by Damien Fate. Sets and characters were created by Ryker Beck and a great audio mix by Robert Hunt, who’s produced music and audio for such clients as Fox, NBC, Discovery Communications on shows like “Epicurious” and “Trading Spaces.”

Script by “The Chip” author George Jack, video produced by Pixel Valley Studio.

For more info or to order the book and comic:  www.gmjcomic.com

To order from Amazon.

Video for our 3D Animated Holiday Card Giveaway is Live

The video for our 3D Animated Holiday Card giveaway winners, Junkdrawer Media, is live. Given their TV and web video production background, the card became a wonderful mixture of live action and 3D animation. It’s a festive minute of holiday joy…check it out and enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

Guest Artist: Ryker Beck

School Daze by Ryker Beck

School Daze

Welcome to our guest artist series, where we showcase great talent that we enjoy and would love to spread the word about. For each artist, we commission an image that blurs the lines between reality and 3D imaging, combining their talent and technique with live action images: where pixel meets valley.

Our guest artist this month is Ryker Beck, who found her path to being a 3D artist through the vast – yet flat – world of 2D. Like many people in the graphic arts field, she cut her teeth on website design at a young age, earned a degree in graphic design and worked for various companies building the front and back ends of client websites. On her off time, though, she found herself drawn into the 3D virtual world of Second Life where her own creativity started to flourish.

She began with virtual photography – images taken in the virtual world of players’ avatars – and became proficient and profitable. She was making money working in a virtual world doing what she loved.

She then turned her eye to a more lucrative aspect of virtual worlds: creating skins worn by players’ avatars; in other words, a 2D image wrapped around the mesh of a 3D character. She knew she was successful at it when one of her skins made over $2,000 in just a couple of days. It took months of work to create but was still an impressive return.

The next logical step for Beck was creating actual 3D models vs just the skins that wrap them. She cut her teeth on AC3D and Z Brush, but finally settled on Maya. She’s since created numerous objects for clients (including us!) as well as items for her in-world store “Exodi.”

We’ve had a great time working with Beck on many recent projects including the Exergen Temporal Thermometer Training Video, the Level Playing Field video series and the upcoming trailer for the 21st century super hero book “The Chip.”  We’re looking forward to utilizing her talents even more as we continue our journey through the 3D realm.

Ryker Beck

Our Nurses Training Video Distributed in Healthcare Publication

This falls in the good news department. We just found out that the nurses training video we produced for the Exergen Corporation is being distributed as a dvd with the December issue of Nurses Management magazine—all 75,000 copies. Another great example of how the Real-time machinima process is working its way more and more into the domain of mainstream animation.

Animated Nurses training video for Exergen

For More info about the animated video.

Our Animated Training Video Written up in Prominent Healthcare Journal

Exergen training video writeup in healthcare journal

We just found out about a wonderful write-up on the real-time animated training video we recently created for the Exergen Corporation.  The magazine, Executive Healthcare Management, is a well respected trade publication for healthcare management professionals and has a two page Q&A spread with Dr. Francesco Pompei, founder and CEO of Exergen Corporation, about the what they’re calling the “Virtual Classroom.”

The article talks about the success they’re having with the 16 minute nurses’ training video on the use and care of their Temporal Scanning Thermometer in hospitals around the world. And yes, I did say 16 minutes, which is considered long by today’s Youtube standards.  It’s working though, which points to the power of the animated medium, particularly when you engage the viewer in a familiar scenario set in their environment. There’s a reason people will sit for two hours in a crowded movie theater; recreate that in a training video and you’ve captivated your audience. Some highlights from the article:

How they knew it was working.
“When 35 nurses crowded around an iPad’s 10-inch screen, watched intently, laughed at the avatar interactions as similar to their real life colleagues. and exclaimed ‘such a great idea’ we knew our primary audience would be engaged.”

His response to the question “Why Avatars?”
“Because we found that everyone is fascinated by this medium, and enjoys and pays attention to the content. Training videos, written materials, and even personal in-servicing tend to be boring and are often ineffective, requiring frequent and expensive follow-up by both supplier and hospital educators. Avatars are compelling.”

He also talks about the cost advantages and ease by which we can update the training video when needed down the road (no actors or crew to call back to the set). But best of, are his ROI figures: how pass rates on written competency exams given after watching the video were 100%, compared to an average of 50% for their traditional personal in-service training. That blew me away.

I’ve been beating the drum of real-time machinima animation for over 12 years now, and this is probably one of the best testaments to the process I’ve seen yet. Read the whole article and thank you Dr. Pompei for a great write-up.

Winner of our 3D Animated Holiday Card Giveaway: Junkdrawer Media


We are happy to announce the winner of our 2010 3D Animated Holiday Card Giveaway:  Mary Beth Anderson and Leslie Ann Nichols of Junkdrawer Media.

We’d like to congratulate them on the win and thank everyone who submitted entries to our drawing. Runners-up are entitled to whatever leftover fruitcake we have left in the fridge on December 26th!

We look forward to more fun contests and giveaways in the future, but drop us a line if you’d like to discuss your own animated card for this holiday season or any other project ideas you’d like to chat about.

Happy Holidays!

Tom & Frank

Pixel Valley Studio Interviewed on Tonight with Paisley Beebe Show

The recent episode of Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe is up where I talk about how we’re using real-time machinima animation in corporate videos today, how we got started over 12 years ago and what the future holds. In other words, a real-time animation company interviewed, in real-time, on a machinima talk show. Very meta.

Also in the show, Bones Writer from TRAX Music resources, a really cool musician who assists other musicians in performing and growing an audience in the virtual world of Second Life. And the final interview is with Laika Saintlouis and James Schwartz of the blog Slipsters, and their hilarious take on virtual hipsters.

Thanks again to Paisley Beebe and her crew and Treet TV for having me on their show, it was a blast. Check out the show below (or on iTunes), my interview is in first one up.

1998 Apartment Hunting in Classic Machinima Series

Apartment Hunting machinima

Our first machinima “Apartment Huntin'” from 1998

Phil “Overman” Rice at Machiniplex wrote a great article about our first machinima video “Apartment Huntin’,” produced when we were the ILL Clan back in 1998. Seems Phil was a big fan at the time and was inspired by our film to start creating his own machinima, which he’s been doing for over ten years now with great success. His 2006 film “Male Restroom Etiquette” was a viral hit, garnering millions of views online and numerous awards. Phil still produces a prolific amount of machinima and also manages the machinima blog aggregator Machinifeed.

The article is part of an ongoing series at Machiniplex on classic machinima films, so make sure to subscribe to the feed when you visit. Tip of the hat to the guys at machiniplex for a great series.