Visual effects (commonly shortened to Visual FX or VFX) are the various processes by which imagery is created and/or manipulated outside the context of a live action shot. Visual effects involve the integration of live-action footage and generated imagery to create environments which look realistic, but would be dangerous, expensive, impractical, or simply impossible to capture on film. Visual effects using computer generated imagery has recently become accessible to the independent filmmaker with the introduction of affordable and user friendly animation and compositing software.
Machinima is now approximately 15 years old. It has evolved from a purely gamers "demo scene" to, on one hand, a professional, multimillion dollar industry (see machinima.com) producing a wide variety of popular game-based throw away content, and on the other hand, dozens of amateur satellite communities who support and share machinima films made in game and non-game software programs, like Moviestorm, iClone and Muvizu.
One particular area of machinima creation that has elicited a lot of interest in the last several years is the virtual world of Second Life. Not quite a game, but not quite a typical software program, it's an enormous virtual world which allows users to build any kind of content they like (for a price). The variety of environments, characters and objects created by users in Second Life are, quite literally, staggering. Machinima creation in Second Life has grown rapidly over the last several years. Many machinima groups like the Machinima Artists Guild have helped new users create films of unusual originality.
-Machinima: The Art and Practice of Virtual Filmmaking
In the introduction, the authors discuss several different definitions/explanations of machinima before laying out their own particular framework, which is to "concentrate on the storytelling power of machinima." After the point of view of the book is established, the first chapter of the book, titled "Virtual Filmmaking," focuses primarily on the practical aspects of machinima filmmaking such as sound, script and post production. The chapters for this first part are:
- The Right Stuff: Geared Up to Make Machinima
- Sounding Out the Story Line
- Tell Me a Story
- Characters Come to Life
- Setting, Lighting and Composition
- Post-Production: Bing Bang Boom
- Celebrating Machinima: It's Show Time!
- The White Pigeon: A Machinima Example
- The Fine Print (by Todd Herriman)
- Expression Through Machinima: The Virtual Classroom (by Byran Carter)