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In L.A., an audience for machinima

Los Angeles' Machine Project hosted a standing-room-only screening of machinima films.

Luigi's Burden
Luigi's Burden sets live action against a video game backdrop. Max Winston

It's been a hectic week, but we didn't want that to deter us from recounting this cool event: Last Friday night Crave joined a standing-room-only crowd of geeks, artists, and filmmakers at Los Angeles' Machine Project art space for an overview and screening of machinima films. A compound of machine and cinema, machinima describes the art of making films out of video games. Bypassing both labor-intensive hand-drawn animation and computer-intensive digital animation, machinima artists instead use game engines as cheap animation tools, combining video sequences created within the game with original dialogue and soundtracks. The result is far more dramatic than a simple recording of gameplay (not that we'd deny the drama inherent in this speed run through Super Mario Brothers).

Machinima has been around for a while, but because our previous experience with the genre was limited to the "Make Love Not Warcraft" episode of South Park, we weren't sure what to expect going into the screening. By the end of the evening, we were completely won over by the ingenuity of the machinima filmmakers, many of whom manage to tell compelling and entertaining stories within the limited milieu of a video game.

To recreate Friday's event at home, watch some of our favorites from the screening: Red vs. Blue, a popular serial comedy created in Halo; The French Democracy, a political piece, created with The Movies, addressing racial tensions in France; and Male Restroom Etiquette, a mock-educational documentary created with The Sims 2. And for a look at where the genre might be headed, check out Luigi's Burden, a fun live action/animation hybrid made by film student Max Winston.

You can watch more machinima films and post your own at Gamespot or on the genre's portal,