Machinimatic …

Posted August 29th, 2010 by wonko

…now the 3D world can be a very powerful and constructionist (and constructivist) place to get creative people working in, but generally “what happens in-world, stays in-world” … until now.
While digging around in the Activeworlds client (the program that provides you with access to the world) settings, I came across an “Addin” that is a scene grabber.

3D Scene Grabber

3D Scene Grabber

…you can use it to capture world action in WMV movie format, with sound, at varying sample/frame rates, with some control over the frame size. It got me thinking as to what we could do with that facility.

Now I have not done much “machinima” (or more correctly, not done very much in the way of digital video at all really, yes I know I must be a philistine). From my readings on Machinema, it is essentially movie making using game engines, but it seems to me that we could easily do that here.

As the worlds we are building are constructionist, we could get kids to make sets, lights, our avatars could wear costumes as actors who could act out a story whilst someone else could film it. Nice.

Up until now I had assumed it was not possible to use this movie footage in-world. Laaaaate saturday night I stumbled across a poorly documented feature of SIGN objects (yes, those things that traditionally display TEXT messages) as opposed to PICTURE objects (which are designed to display graphics … go figure).

You can spawn a MOVIE PLAYER (well, in truth it is an embedded Windows Media Player window on a SIGN object, and stream your movie on it, in world, on demand.

Now to me this is pretty exciting, so I set about testing it. I had some speech-bubble signs, placed them opposite a line of seats (a drive in movie of sorts, well, “fly in” more accurately) and had a play with some WMVs sourced from Google – they worked a treat.

3 screens, on demand

3 screens, on demand

…sure there is some delay with downloading, as the player buffers enough to play, but we get movies, with sound, in-world. Excitingly, you can have multiple streams independently playing for each person, there is “3D sound” which is directional – it emanates from the sign in much the same way that a sound or noise does, there is some control over captioning and start/stop, loop etc.

So I recorded a walk around, uploaded the resultant WMV file, embedded it using the code

create sign; activate media url= “click to load movie”

and it worked a treat. In the morning, i got a test pleb (thanks Kye1) to check they too could see the movie (thinking it might just be some wierd admin trick – there are a few of those) and he was also able to see the movie – interestingly it is not streamed synchronously to all users – while he was watching, I had no clue he was, except his avatar was stationary for a while.

So, after asking him for permission, we staged a 2 person, one bot (will introduce you to my pet bot in another posting) movie,  filmed it and posted it as well:

wonkoFILM starring Kye1 and wonkoBOT

wonkoFILM starring Kye1 and wonkoBOT

Kye1 was beside himself (literally) when the movie loaded in-world with him – I can see wonderful potential with this … you know what would be perfect – if the new iShare service the learning Place are about to launch lets the kids upload their movies in a way that can be seen by an in-world player – I can imagine it now – film nights where people BYO a film, virtual film studios, film clubs …

…what do you think?

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