Goodbye Azeroth…

Azeroth as we know it is changing. I made this small video to say a farewell to places we’ve seen and enjoyed over the past 5 years, before they’re changed for good.

Hit the jump if you’d like to read a little about what went into this, my very first machinima movie.

I’ve always loved machinima (i.e. filming movies inside a video game) but have always been afraid to make my own. It’s art, and while I’m mildly creative I’m also my greatest critic. With the Cataclysm coming to World of Warcraft, I decided to throw caution to the wind, bought a license for Fraps, and dove into my first machinima.

I selected this song after hearing it on 30 Seconds to Mars’ album ‘A Beautiful Lie.’ The track is slower, more solemn than many of their other songs, and it stood out to me as a great piece to pair with a “goodbye” montage. I have always enjoyed how movie trailers are cut to music, fitting visuals with audio cues and changes, so I thought this would be a great place to start. Obviously, timing of the transitions and clips was important, and Windows Live Movie Maker is not great at representing its timeline for audio or video, but nevertheless I made the best of it. The end result isn’t 100% tuned, but it is nearly there, and considering the software I had to use (no Sony Vegas here), I think it turned out alright.

Many machinimists, particularly World of Warcraft directors, like to use applications like the Model or Map viewers that allow them more flexibility with the game assets. I wasn’t ready to tackle this for my first piece, so I chose to film entirely in-game. This did limit me to in-game camera controls, and I think a few of my shots suffered because of it. Some came out great, though. I was also working under a time crunch – I wanted to get this filmed and put together before any more of Azeroth changes with the next content patch. Plus, my weekends are still largely devoted to getting my house ready to move into (almost done!).

Any aspiring machinimist should know… it isn’t too hard to get into the art and start feeling things out. Fraps is inexpensive (roughly $40.00 USD). You will want to have a computer with a decent amount of system memory (2GB+), a good video card, and lots of hard drive space. Windows Live Movie Maker isn’t terrible, considering it is free. If you find this is something you like to do, and you’ve a knack for it, investing in a more expensive video editing program (Vegas or Adobe Premier, maybe Adobe After Effects) might be in order. If you also decide to do video-blogging or reviews (Spoony, Nostalgia Critic, AVGN), these tools will help immensely in that area as well!

Remember, we all start somewhere. The very first machinima was created in the PC game Quake by United Ranger films. I remember seeing ‘Diary of a Camper’ when it debuted. Today, we have so many fantastic machinimas, it is hard to pick the best – or even a favorite. Check out Tales of the Past 3 (almost feature-length!), or anything by Myndflame, Wowcrendor, or Oxhorn. Look at how far we’ve come!

For your daily World of Warcraft machinima fix, check out WoW Insider (http://wow.joystiq.com) and their column “WoW Moviewatch.” For all varieties of machinima, visit Machinima.com (http://www.machinima.com/)!

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