There used to be two species of CGI: mega-difficult, cinema-worthy animation, and machinima, which is the (somewhat mega-geeky) art of using the record function in computer games to create scenes.
Moviestorm has introduced a third way to animate your own movie, and it’s becoming increasingly popular. It uses a gaming engine, so the movies look like computer game cut scenes, but you can build your own sets, characters and props.
There are now 100,000 Moviestorm users and some of their movies are getting attention. Phil Rice has racked up 6 million Youtube views for his Male Restroom Etiquette, while Iain Friar of Basingstoke won the audience prize at the Atopic film festival for his film, Clockwork.
Here’s how to land your Oscar in five steps:
1. Get Moviestorm
Download and install the program. It’s free, but you buy or rent your actors, sets and objects. It’ll run on Macs and PCs but a decent graphics card will make it animate smoothly, as will plenty of RAM.
2. Build your set
You can start with a blank set and add your own elements, or take a pre-built set and change a few things. There are indoor and outdoor sets and everything is customisable, from the size of the trees or the colour of the sky to the wallpaper pattern.
3. Create your characters
Again, you can make your own characters using a wide range of variables, or go with a pre-made person. Skeletons, zombies, cartoon characters and rock stars are also available.
Decide how your characters are going to move, control the path that the virtual camera will take to film them, then record your own dialogue (or use Moviestorm’s own pre-recorded audio), and edit the whole thing together.
Piece of cake – or not, as the case may be, but the great thing about this kind of filmmaking is that you can cock it up over and over again, and it won’t cost you an extra penny.
5. Pick an outfit for the Oscars
The outfit you’ll be wearing to watch them on TV, that is. But while your movies are unlikely to leave the Pixar bosses quaking in their boots, you’ll find an interested community of viewers among your fellow Moviestorm users. You can enter your work into online film festivals, and even sell props you’ve made.
£free | blender.org
If you want to make genuinely beautiful CGI, you can do so for free with this open-source 3D content creator– see sintel.org for an example of what it can do. The catch? It requires a professional level of skill and commitment, with some films taking years to finish.