Optimism Bias - A Red Faction Guerrilla machinima series

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Optimism Bias - A Red Faction Guerrilla machinima series

Post by AndrewGoodnight on Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:46 pm

Hey folks, here is a link to the trailer for the machinima animated show I've been releasing on YouTube. You can watch the episodes on my channel.



To give you a bit of info on it, my background is in live action filmmaking, and a very live action approach was taken to make this show. I wrote directed and edited it, and worked closely with a very talented live action cinematographer in pre-production to do location scouting in game levels, choreograph the action, make camera maps, and create a shot list based on the script so we knew exactly what coverage we needed when it came to shooting time.

Voice Over recording was done prior to the shoots because we needed the dialogue for timing whilst doing the puppetry of all the characters. We did research with a number of different types of game controllers including gamepads, joysticks, mice and keyboards in order to mimic different types of live action camera moves like jib arms, crane shots, dolly shots etc. We also used a variety of different types of controllers for the puppetry of the characters. Often times a body actor would have a game pad in one hand using an analogue stick to accurately control how fast they are walking, but using a mouse in their other hand to look around and do more subtle head movements for conversation.

All of the content was captured in a combination of 2.5K and 4K uncompressed using FRAPS. The reason we shot in 4K was because Red Faction Guerrilla is a third person game so the only clean part of the frame is to the right of the player. We capture the whole 4K frame and then crop out a 1080p section to the right of the player. This is then transcoded to Cineform for editing. The 2.5K stuff was some shots we filmed in the games spectator mode which isn't in third person mode so you can use the whole frame but the camera angles available in spectator mode are quite limiting. We shot everything in 25fps to give it a cinematic feel and also to lower the load on our hardware, but we shot some stuff at 100fps to get some nice slomo.

Editing was done in Premiere with the cropped 1080p cineform files. I also added some green screened assets from Garry's Mod which was composited in After Effects. Once picture was locked I sent the audio tracks to a sound designer/mixer who I was also living with at the time which was convenient. Grade was done in DaVnci Resolve via xml form Premiere.

There are currently 5 episodes out. The final episode airs this monday. Hope you like it Smile

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Re: Optimism Bias - A Red Faction Guerrilla machinima series

Post by troyduguid on Fri Nov 20, 2015 1:49 am

wow your process sounds super in-depth! Did you do any behind the scenes stuff showing you and your team 'filming' this project? Would be keen to see it. Were you able to record multiple angles in one take, or was each shot its own performance?
Also very keen to hear more about your next project involving machinima as it develops, it's a scene I admittedly didn't know much about before seeing your work, but I particularly find the live-action performance aspect really interesting.

ps, I edited user rights, so if you wanted to you could link directly to episdoes now.
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Re: Optimism Bias - A Red Faction Guerrilla machinima series

Post by AndrewGoodnight on Sun Dec 13, 2015 3:03 pm

Thanks, I do actually have a ton of footage behind the scenes footage that was shot while we were "shooting" the machinima. It's on my list of things to do to cut into a little featurette to chuck online.

Shooting from multiple camera angles and screen capturing with different PC's was definitely something I wanted to implement into our workflow for efficiency's sake. Being able to record a mid shot and a wide of the same action would have saved us a lot of time, and we did do it successfully a few times, but often it ended up costing more time than it saved. The reason was because there are some random components to the assets in a multiplayer match, and they are determined locally, not by the server. So for example, some of the character skins we were using had some slight variations. A different helmet, a different color mask etc. These are not variables that can be changed when hosting or joining a match, they are random. So in a game, one character may be wearing a different helmet form the perspective of two different players.

Whenever we hosted a match, we would need to make sure our characters were wearing everything consistently with footage we had previously shot, and if they weren't we had to restart the server and try again, some times multiple times until we got it right. We called this process dice rolling. You can imagine during shots when multiple characters are on screen, we had to restart the server a number of times until we got the correct combination of character skins from the perspective of the camera computer. To do this for two or more different camera computers would have been near impossible. But we were able to use multiple cameras on shots that used generic skins of which there are only one variation. (For example the brown troopers)

Salt in the wound is that shortly after we finished filming, the game developer released a patch making it possible for players to join a match that is already in progress. This would mean if a character wasn't wearing the right outfit, the person controlling that character can just exit out of the game and rejoin how ever many times it takes to get it right, but the server doesn't need to restart. This would make it much easier to get the right character skins in the match without having to close the server and start again, rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

It was among these kind of technical issues that made the show take so long to make. We had to spend so much time focusing on continuity, bringing up stills of footage we'd previously shot and making sure everything in the new shot was consistent. Once again, just like live action filmmaking. Setting up a shot, getting the characters dressed correctly, recreating any cosmetic damage to the buildings and objects in the map, and choreographing the action without contaminating the continuity of the next shot often meant hours spent preparing for a few seconds of footage. So yes, very akin to live action.


troyduguid wrote:wow your process sounds super in-depth! Did you do any behind the scenes stuff showing you and your team 'filming' this project? Would be keen to see it. Were you able to record multiple angles in one take, or was each shot its own performance?
Also very keen to hear more about your next project involving machinima as it develops, it's a scene I admittedly didn't know much about before seeing your work, but I particularly find the live-action performance aspect really interesting.

ps, I edited user rights, so if you wanted to you could link directly to episdoes now.

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