Mobile TV, Toon Boom & Machinima @ Darklight
I caught a few of the presentations at Friday’s session of the Darklight 2007 symposium. First up was a talk from reps of 02, Eircom, Babelgum and RTÉ about the future of television and how mobile-tv and tv-on-demand rewrite the rules of the normal linear broadcast model. For example the primetime slots for mobile tv are commuting hours and work breaktimes.
Next up was a workshop by Brown Bag where they described their experiences using the animation toolset ‘Toon Boom Studio‘ to create a new children’s tv series ‘Wobbly Land‘. It seems to have a steep learning curve, particularly if you are used to Flash (no tweening!) but they had great technical support from Toon Boom’s creators, including 2 weeks of training. TB also created custom effects plugins for Brown Bag, that helped give the show it’s unique (and very non-generic vector animation) look.
The last workshop I attended was ‘Machinima FilmMaking’ (the art of making movies inside video game engines) by Friedrich Kirschner, the developer of Movie Sandbox, a heavy modification of the game Unreal Tournament 2004 that turns it into a Machinima application. The game world becomes your stage and the characters your actors, who you can direct as you please, either ‘live’ or through pre-defined scripts.
Some cool input methods were shown, one involved controlling your ‘actor’ like a virtual puppet using the strings on a usb golf controller. Another made use of the Xbox 360’s Guitar Hero controller so your machinima actor can jam on some chords.
Also demoed was an innovative supporting technology called Milkscanner, a low budget but highly effective method of scanning 3d objects using a webcam, lego, a bowl and some milk(!). A (small plastic) elephant was gradually submerged in milk, each stage captured by the webcam and then the software assembled each ‘slice’ into a 3d wireframe suitable for import into Movie Sandbox. Great stuff, innovative and nutricious!