Machinima festival hits N.Y.

If you happen to find yourself near the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, N.Y., on Saturday, it would be well worth your while to stop in, plunk down 10 bucks and spend the day at the 2005 Machinima Film Festival.

Machinima--which the festival's Web site defines as "animated filmmaking using 3D video game technologies"--is cool. Really cool. It may have a long way to go before it's recognized for the art form it is, but, well, it's cool.

After all, what's really happening here is that artists are using the game engines of, say, "Quake" or "Halo" to produce short films. In other words, they're getting their game characters to play the roles in the stories they want to tell and then they're acting out entire films.

Among the most famous is the "Red vs. Blue series," in which comedians parody first-person shooters. The series is now in its fifth season.

In any case, the festival, which is being hosted by the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences, promises a full schedule of material Saturday.

The day begins with an intro to machinima. A bit later there's a best-of-2005 screening that starts at 2:30 p.m. Throughout the day, in the museum's Nam June Paik room, there will be screenings of dozens of films.

Anyway, machinima can be downright boring and silly--and you should prepare yourself for a lot of that if you go Saturday--but it can also be awesome and beautiful. Whenever I've seen some of the work, I've never hesitated to be amazed that people are taking the time to produce such fantastic work in a medium that wasn't really designed for it.

But then again, this is the digital age. People who have a lot of time on their hands do the craziest things, after all.

 

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