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Author Topic: The Movies: Your Flix, Post here.  (Read 6606 times)
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Blackjack
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« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2007, 09:31:17 PM »

Hey, didn't realize there was a Movies thread here (albeit dead for almost 2 years). I read a recent interview with Peter Molyneaux, and he finally seemed to admit that they made The Movies "too busy, and too hard to play" (as far as the studio game part). Stunts and Effects made some terrific improvements, but I knew in my heart there would be nothing coming for us fans after that.

Although I loved tinkering with the movie-making part, I hated, hated, hated the "Sims/Rollercoaster Tycoon wannabe" and micromanaging of the studio part of the game (even when they added more of a "sandbox" mode, it still got in the way of movie-making). But I can understand them not thinking the public would pay simply for a simplified "machinima creation" tool. It's just, that's what made it special and unique. I received it for Xmas back in 2005 I think, and I would get so addicted to working on my creations that I could spend about 16 hours on a Saturday trying to perfect something (and I never came close to perfection).

I also got too wrapped up in it at times. People at the Movies comment threads, and even at YouTube (where I posted a couple of my movies, after using Windows Movie Maker to add credits and stuff) often loved to be harsh and insulting, and not at all helpful. War Movies were my specialties.

I don't play/use The Movies anymore, and I'm not sure I ever will. It's tough in that if you don't accept feedback and suggestions, you really can't improve your movies. But if you're sensitive and easily hurt by criticism (I often am), then eventually you just don't want to subject yourself to that kind of abuse anymore. I'm a wimp, yes.  Tongue

Well anyway, wanted to share the two war movies I made, that I jazzed up a bit before uploading to YouTube, including the original babbling descriptions I jotted down to use at YouTube. They are (be sure to crank up the sound!  icon_cool They're not very long though.):

The Rescue
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYm4U6zvdno
Quote
A short (6+ minutes) modern war machinima movie made with Lionhead's "The Movies" and its "Stunts and Effects" expansion. I wanted to share a higher rez version on You Tube for friends. I used Windows Movie Maker to add an intro and some closing credits.

Obviously inspired by Black Hawk Down, but also by "Robert's Ridge" and some other chopper incidents in Afghanistan. Some equipment (Huey, no Blackhawk vehicle model available) and backdrop ("alien" landscape) inaccuracies were unavoidable due to limitations in the game and lack of "mods" to fix them. Hope nobody minds too much. smile (more)
I revised this sucker massively after The Movies Online comments complained about many, many things, and suggested others. I got extensive voice acting help from a buddy I knew at a games forum (he played the rescue chopper pilot), and a fairly popular voice actor at the Future Star network fan forum. Another buddy from a military games forum provided both voice acting help, and "modulation" so that I could have "radio style" distorted voices.

Even though this flick is still full of flaws, it was my proudest achievement. smile But it was exhausting, and I think I felt by the time I completed it, the "game" was becoming more work than fun. Also, just about every other comment I got on it either accused me of creating a "Bush propaganda movie" or of "insulting our troops with such derivative work." So I think in my efforts to salute our troops, I apparently insulted everybody.  Roll Eyes icon_biggrin

Wars End
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xy7c2Ns_mE
Quote
A short (6 minute) WWII movie made with Lionhead's "The Movies," but before the release of the "Stunts and Effects" expansion. Set in Germany late in the war.
I was a bit depressed (would-be romance and all that rot frown) at the time I made this one, and I think you can probably sense my melancholy in the storyline. I only was able to get voice-acting help from two people at the Future Star Network forums (including a German guy who agreed to voice the sniper). The guy I got to play Sarge sounded more like W.C. Fields, than a sergeant, but I was desperate.  Tongue

Although there were some military-type mods available, I never could figure out how to install them. It's a shame Lionhead never looked into some way of easing implementation of mods.

Also, this movie was done *before* Stunts and Effects' improvements. I had some screwy discrepancies (wrong rifle, wrong uniform etc.), but I simply couldn't figure out a way to fix them without starting over (Stunts and Effects made revising/changing easier, though far from easy).

Although I'm prouder of "The Rescue," I have to some extent received more kind words about "Wars End." I guess the sadness comes across as a more honest emotion in it, even if it seems technically inferior.

Anyway, enjoy. smile I don't plan to do any more work on these. I started work on a Vietnam War era movie involving choppers yet again (this time Hueys would make sense), but I got bogged down.

I also did a couple interesting, unfinished movies, maybe I'll post links to those later (I didn't upload them to YouTube though).
« Last Edit: December 09, 2007, 04:53:10 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: December 09, 2007, 03:58:20 PM »

I was working on finishing mine earlier this year when my system crashed. Just got it back up about a month ago and haven't made it back to The Movies just yet. I had zero interest in the studio running part so as soon as the hack came out to unlock everything that's what I used. Ditto for Stunts & Effects. I was basically making Men In Black 3, aka "Men In The Dark IV." I need to get around to finishing it now. Thanks for the reminder. smile
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« Reply #42 on: December 09, 2007, 05:02:57 PM »

What was frustrating with fan-mods, is that the sites for them were very hardcore technical (I don't think I ever saw a mod that was easy to install, and the ones that were least difficult to put in wouldn't work with Stunts & Effects), and, imho, the forums there were just not friendly to more casual users looking to get into mods (thus it was a shame Lionhead didn't do something to ease that process).

I fished around and I guess I removed most of my old movies from The Movies Online. My other Stunts & Effects film was more of a "tech demo" for doing car chases and car stunts, called "The Chase," and it's still there at:

The Chase
http://movies.lionhead.com/movie/87309

If I learned anything in making my movies, the more ambitious I got, the more likely I would never finish the movie. smile

I think my biggest frustrations were how the editor tool handled things. Deleting a scene would result in all your voice files/subtitles jumping to the wrong locations. There was no way to "fix" the locations so they wouldn't be disturbed by adding/deleting scenes.

I tended to make my flicks backwards (I'd insert a bunch of scenes, whittle them down, and then try to add in subtitles, and in some cases voice files). Obviously, that's backwards of "real" movie directors (maybe more akin to a comic book artist drawing his panels, and then a writer  writes in the dialog), but I enjoyed thinking visually first (to some extent using The Movies as a storyboarding tool) and then "writing to the scene."
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« Reply #43 on: December 10, 2007, 02:42:02 PM »

The thing that kept throwing me off was how the clothing I'd assign to actors would change per scene. It's not like different actors were in every scene either. It was an odd thing and I think that's what kept piling up for me the further and further I dug into the game. For every one thing it would do well, there'd be three other "odd" quirks that made me re-think how I had to approach it.
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« Reply #44 on: December 10, 2007, 07:39:17 PM »

Quote from: whiteboyskim on December 10, 2007, 02:42:02 PM

The thing that kept throwing me off was how the clothing I'd assign to actors would change per scene. It's not like different actors were in every scene either. It was an odd thing and I think that's what kept piling up for me the further and further I dug into the game. For every one thing it would do well, there'd be three other "odd" quirks that made me re-think how I had to approach it.
Amen. Gah. I can't tell you how many hours I wasted trying to fix costume continuity errors, or backgrounds sudenly resetting etc. If you watch my flick "Wars End" mentioned above, the German sniiper had the wrong rifle in his hands in probably three scenes, and then at one point he's wearing a civvy costume, and then another had him in a U.S. uniform.  saywhat

I can tell you that part of the problem was the game only remembered the costume I put on one of the main actors when you're in "pre-production." If I had to use a different actor mid-game, and then put a costume on him, if I tried to use him in another scene later on -- boom! I'd pull the actor in and he'd be wearing civvies, a duck suit (!) or something else ridiculous. If the game remembered, "Ah, you used Extra A in a soldier uniform in scene 4, so when you pull him into scene 7 he'll have the same uniform," that would've been really helpful. I'm sure any fan of the game can suggest 20 improvements like that. There's just no way to implement them now.  tear

The problem was, that was pre-Stunts/Effects, and I hadn't even used a cheat code for the studio-sim side, so trying to fix all those things at the time proved nearly impossible. The other problem I had then was my actors aging in the studio side. That became a problem in some scenes of The Rescue later on, because my 28 year old actor would be 58 by the time I finished certain scenes. I learned to try to edit around that...

While it had the unintentional effect of making me appreciate continuity in real movies, clearly they could've done something to make that sort of thing more user-friendly. I almost wish The Movies had turned into a monthly fee game. I would've gladly paid some modest fee ($5-$10) a month just for the game/sim to have gotten consistent updates, and UI improvements. Or maybe for the game to have become "open source" so some tech-knowledgeable fans could keep improving it.

I'm sure Lionhead/Microsoft is abandoning it at this point (The console version flopped - if it had been a hit, maybe it would at least have future life in that form), but it's cool that people still make things and upload their creations to this day. smile I still see it and the expansion on shelves (saw a bunch of Stunts & Effects boxes at Target the other day), so I guess it's still nowhere close to the time that Lionhead or Microsoft would sell off the title's rights or something like that.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2007, 07:43:25 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #45 on: December 12, 2007, 02:41:55 AM »

I haven't done in a movie in a while, but if you want to check out my first effort its here

http://movies.lionhead.com/movie/4729

I started to do 2 projects for Stunts and Effects but my progress got lost and I was so discouraged I have't tried to restart since then. I was even doing vioce work this time to grrrr
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« Reply #46 on: December 12, 2007, 01:37:46 PM »

Hey dave!  icon_cool (we know each other from another board and from City of Heroes smile). If you ever need voice acting help, let me know. Not that I'm any good -- I just have a deep voice and a willingness to help with this sort of thing.

Fun movie. For a while I tried to convince NCSoft to allow stuff created with The Movies for their City of Heroes fan film contest, but it would've required some sort of cross promotion/licensing stuff with Lionhead and Activision etc.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2007, 01:43:19 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: December 12, 2007, 02:44:55 PM »

My problem with the voice acting feature in the game (just to clarify) is in the editing process. I'm a notorious nitpicker and while the editing feature is good for basic (My First Movie) editing, it remains impossible to tighten things up as exactly as I'd like. For example, you can't stop on an exact frame then pick up the next scene on an exact frame. This also plays hell with the voice acting when using it in the editing. Also, was there a hotkey for record on and off? I couldn't find anything like that when I last looked, admittedly a while ago, which was part of my problem. Were I able to hit CTRL-L for both on and off it would have helped instead of having to scroll to one button, record, then scroll to another and turn off. Those split seconds make a difference. Thoughts?
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« Reply #48 on: December 12, 2007, 06:35:47 PM »

I know what you mean. What I tended to do was record .wav files separately using the Windows Sound Recorder. Then I would import these into the game and use the "lip synch" ability (which automatically animates the actor's mouths in synch with the sound file).

Another advantage is that for something like my "The Rescue," I was able to ask a forum buddy to do some sound distortion techniques so the helicopter pilots sounded like they were talking over radio headset mics.

The caveat is usually the sound volume won't match that of voices recorded "in-game" using a mic. So if I used a mix of that technique, and recording voice files separately, I would have to take a lot of time trying to adjust the sound volumes.

I couldn't find a hotkey for the mic on/off either, and it was definitely frustrating when trying to record "in-game."

Certainly there were all sorts of nice features like frame-matching/-coordinating that would improve things. My pet peeve is I needed some ability to "attach" sound files to certain spots in my film -- so that if I added or deleted scenes, it wouldn't screw up the placement of every single sound file in it. I think they designed it instead with the idea that you'll make a film visually, everything will be perfect, you'll add sound files, and you won't given any thought to changing scenes (because if you do, all your sound file placements are kaput).  disgust I loved the editor tool, and working with my movies, but having to "re-adjust" every single sound file placement in even just a 5 minute movie because I took out or added one scene -- it was hellish.  Tongue

I think if their focus was on the machinima aspect to begin with (recall that originally the game was just supposed to focus on the studio "Rollercoaster Tycoon/Sims" wannabe aspect, and movie production was to be totally automated), they would've given more thought to all sorts of things like that. But, from interviews I read, the manual movie-making aspect happened almost accidentally, sort of a, "Hey, our game was supposed to be about *this,* but if we give them tools to create this, it's really fun).
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« Reply #49 on: December 12, 2007, 06:50:20 PM »

btw, I'm really sorry I didn't know you guys had an active Movies thread back when I was playing/using it constantly. I would've so appreciated a positive place for getting feedback and trading tips on how to use the movie tools better. So let's keep discussing things. smile

Maybe I can even dig my copy out and start working on that Vietnam movie I was working on.

I did actually buy a screenwriter's book a while back. The idea was that I'd finally write a script and *THEN* film it with The Movies, and I have no doubt that would be so much easier. It's just, I have so much fun working with the movie creation tool, and so often my story inspirations just come from stitching a few scenes together (even if they're wearing the wrong costumes), and watching how they flow together. I've spent most of my life writing (as a reporter though, not fiction), but I just have a hard time imagining things in my mind enough to do a screenplay. It's like I need props to play with first.  icon_biggrin
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« Reply #50 on: December 12, 2007, 08:16:38 PM »

Speaking as a writer with plenty of experience in screenwriting, doing that then trying to film it "as is" was next to impossible with The Movies. Have an outline, know what you want to film overall, some dialogue, then have at it. The game seems built for improvisation despite its linear appearances. Once you get into the guts of things, stepping up and winging it will result in a better, more creative film overall IMO.
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« Reply #51 on: December 15, 2007, 01:00:57 PM »

Here's my quite derative, missing some exposition, attempt at film noir...

Dead Men Tell No Tales
Click here to watch Dead-Men-Tell-No-Tales---done-with-Lionheads-The-Movies

It's actually like a 320X200 movie but my file host makes it widescreen. If it doesn't load properly, you might have to change the drop down menu to "Default" size.

I believe this was post Stunts and Effects, so I had some interesting little action things in it, including a guy dangling from a window. I never got around to doing voices for it (my own deep, somewhat unexpressive voice worked OK for the detective but I had a hard time finding female voice help; some female co-workers volunteered to help, but I never got around to it all).

This was another case where the screwy editing tool really fouled up my ambitions. At one point I had a scene where the ex-cop detective's partner is killed during a traffic stop.  I think I did lots of work on it, only to have The Movies crash to the desktop and I lost all my work on it.  crybaby And anyway, I would've had to re-position about 100 "caption files" on the editing tool "strip," and it would've made me crazy.  Tongue

The ending is way too rushed too, but by that point I was a little sick of it, and I just wanted the pain to stop.  icon_razz

Anyway, I learned that I am not, in fact, Raymond Chandler...
« Last Edit: December 15, 2007, 01:04:36 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #52 on: July 22, 2009, 07:08:52 PM »

Well, even though The Movies Online is kaput, there are still folks out there making new ones.

I got a heads up from an Australian user at YouTube about a new Afghanistan War piece (with presumably Aussie troops) he put together for a school project and posted on YouTube. I guess he noticed my film "The Rescue" (also set in Afghanistan), so he sent me a PM about it. He didn't use voiceovers (I think the advantage of that is you get fewer viewers whining about your voice actor quality, as if you're going to hire professionals or something  disgust), and I think like me, he had some difficulty trying to "re-shoot" or add back in footage later on. Doing so tended to screw up all your subtitle/voice file placements, and could be a nightmare -- it's something I pushed unsuccesfully for Lionhead to try to remedy/improve.

So, here's his flick link if yer interested...

One Night in Afghanistan (Complete Film) - "The Movies", by Lionhead
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTueZyjKlhg

-----------------------
When I was fiddling with City of Heroes' Mission Architect stuff some months ago, it reminded me a whole lot about my time fiddling with The Movies. Unfortunately, there was that same effect for me of feeling after a while like it was "work" instead of "having fun."

Playing through my one COH story arc something like 200 times to try to get it "just right" reminded me a lot of viewing my The Movies creations that often, trying to (and mostly failing) get everything "just right." And then trying to accept criticism of one's creations without taking it personally was just about the same too. And trying to go back and fix something only to see it break something else in the process and feel like I wanted to tear my hear out was about the same as well.  icon_razz

Talk about deja vu.  icon_neutral

I've been tempted a zillion times to break out The Movies again and finish my Vietnam combat opus, or tackle some other things. For a while I was clipping out interesting obituaries about old decorated veterans who had received medals in one war or another (a decorated Native American who received commendations in Vietnam, and then struggled with alcoholism and missing his fallen soldier buddies, was going to be the inspiration for my Vietnam one).

Unfortunately, I remember the exasperation more than the joy of using it. Editing tools that aren't just quite flexible enough, and coping with nasty fan-comments from people who largely never even used The Movies or knew its limitations, etc., just wasn't very pleasant.

I just wish Lionhead had at least open-sourced the interface or something so the more technically savvy fans might've been able to make more improvements in the tools (preferably that didn't require you to be a software engineer or programmer to figure out how to install).
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 07:21:41 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #53 on: July 29, 2010, 02:06:52 PM »

The Movies lives on.  icon_smile

I just got a "video response" to my so-so WWII flick "Wars End." This guy did a Pacific Theater flick, about 8 minutes, 32 seconds long.

Peliliu [The Movies: Stunts and Effects - WWII]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_g4J5cuuUk&feature=email
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« Reply #54 on: July 29, 2010, 02:55:27 PM »

Quote from: Blackjack on July 29, 2010, 02:06:52 PM

The Movies lives on.  icon_smile

I just got a "video response" to my so-so WWII flick "Wars End." This guy did a Pacific Theater flick, about 8 minutes, 32 seconds long.

Peliliu [The Movies: Stunts and Effects - WWII]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_g4J5cuuUk&feature=email

Wow....rise from your grave!    I was thinking about this game the other day.  it wasn't a critical success, but it was damned fun in my opinion. 
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« Reply #55 on: July 29, 2010, 03:05:32 PM »

The movie tools I thought were marvelous and it's kind of a crime Lionhead didn't just dump the SDK and code on the market after they abandoned it. I'm sure some gearheads could've continued to improve it and added features to it.

I don't think critics knew what to make of it. The game part of it seemed like a Sims/Tycoon game wannabe, and was my least favorite part of the game. The movie making was a tough thing to "review." I couldn't realistically expect Joe Reviewer to make a bunch of movies. I loved it, and while Lionhead probably looks back on it as a "mistake," to me it's the only thing Lionhead's done on PC in years that I had any real passion about.

The movie-making tools consumed me around 2005. The feedback I got when posting movies at The Movies' official site was both inspiring/helpful and depressing/rage-inducing. I got to work with folks all over the world on voiceovers for my stuff. I think the only reason I don't reinstall it and try to back into it is I really don't want to be that consumed by something again. It kind of happened to me for a few weeks when using City of Heroe's Mission Creator stuff too. If I get that emotionally involved with something software wise, it's usually good for me to slowly back away.  paranoid

Although Lionhead unplugged its depository site for the films, I never liked how much they compressed/reduced quality of uploaded movies anyway. You can upload these things to YouTube to your heart's content still, and a few still are.  icon_smile
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 03:07:51 PM by Blackjack » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: July 30, 2010, 03:28:53 PM »

I think the biggest misstep was that it wasn't updated like the Sims.  If there had been constant "Hey, look, a new set!" and then expansion packs that add entire new genres and the like I think it could have had a chance.  It's a damned shame that it died on the vine like it did.  frown
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« Reply #57 on: July 30, 2010, 06:36:36 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on July 30, 2010, 03:28:53 PM

I think the biggest misstep was that it wasn't updated like the Sims.  If there had been constant "Hey, look, a new set!" and then expansion packs that add entire new genres and the like I think it could have had a chance.  It's a damned shame that it died on the vine like it did.  frown
I don't think DLC had taken over the universe the way it has today, but it might've helped it too. Maybe if they'd treated it as a free2play MMO where you could buy new props and sets for small fees (microtransactions store), that might have brought in enough pocket change to support regular updates by a small dev team. I also probably would've gladly paid a few bucks for Lionhead to have hosted my movies at full (instead of compressed) resolution, though probably they didn't want to get into the media hosting biz.

The initial release didn't sell much, nor the expansion, so probably Lionhead thought it hadn't done well enough to warrant an army of expansions like The Sims (though certainly I would've snatched up everything  icon_smile). If it came out today, I think of all the cross-promotional stuff you could do with Facebook, Twitter, et al. Facebook came out in late 2004, but it wasn't anywhere near the saturation phenomenon it is today. Twitter would've been awesome for announcing your latest films.

There was a very active user-mod environment but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to properly import most props and modifications that people made. Especially after Stunts & Effects came out and most of the stuff for the original game became incompatible.

afik, they didn't really design the game from the ground up to be easily modifiable (something like "double click a file, it automatically installs, boom") and accept regular updates. I like to think if there had been a The Movies 2 or a The Movies MMO, they might've focused on that more.

It still bothers me they've buried it instead of releasing an SDK, source code or something. Clearly they don't plan to ever re-visit it, so why not plant a nostalgic The Movies seed and see if it grows?  icon_frown
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« Reply #58 on: July 30, 2010, 11:42:49 PM »

I was all excited to make movies until I found out I needed to unlock that mode, and when I did I wasn't really into it.  I thought about trying it again but I apparently gave it away.
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