Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Captain's Blog 30.12.2009

In what will probably be my last blog of 2009, as I type this, Episode Seven is slowly rendering itself in the background.  A year of seven scripts, seven episodes, multitudes of exceptionally talented people, some wonderful friends made, some great movies I've been privileged to be a small part of, and a fantastic time had in the process!

I'm hoping to get Episode Seven premiered (hopefully on New Year's Day) on TMUTheatre (if I can get it rendered and uploaded in time!), so watch this space for an update!

There have been so many fantastic folk who have leant their talent to the production of Season One of Odyssey this past year, that I wanted to reiterate my profound thanks to them all.  So, without any further ado… (takes huge breath…)

Episode One
Chris62, JohnnyEx, K4 and Ken

Episode Two
Allpoint, Dulci, Biggstrek and Uber

Episode Three
Acemaster, Bella, Roger, Nahton, Norrie and WX_IVAN

Episode Four
Act3Scene24 and Kwistufa

Episode Five
Dulci (again), K4 (again), The Artist Formerly Known As Tfoster (;)) and WX_IVAN (again)

Episode Six
Afterthought, Anim8tor Cathy, Chris62 (again), Bella (again), BlazeLee Dragon, Jase180, JetCity Woman, JohnnyEx (again), Ken (again) and Mustachio26

Episode Seven
Bella (again), BlazeLee Dragon (again), Jase180 (again), Nahton (again) and Uber (again).

And, of course, super kudos to my delightful regular cast: -

Goofparade, Sisch, JosephKW, Kwistufa, thebiz, Lanna and Marine101; thank you for your hard work and dedication to the ideal!

Modding as always provided by a plethora of talented people, including (but not limited to): -

Alshten, Biggstrek, Budbundysmullet, BusStopWilly, Dr House, Evolchild, Fraas Movies, Frenhofer, Gunsnroses562, Guppi, Jabhabsoul, Jess Franco, Kwistufa (…again!), MikeDeBoing, Malak,  Rik Vargard, Rileyman (especially for the mod utilities, without which I would have screamed and jumped off something high a long time ago), Rysto, Sexymaria, Skelch, Stvndysn, Tarison, The Punisher and last (but my no means least) Mr Ubernewbie himself.

Without these guys desire to expand the limitations of Lionhead’s engine and provide quality mods for the community, Odyssey would not have been possible.


Special thanks go to (in no particular order)  Kwistufa, Norrie, Dulci, Uber, Allpoint, Animatechnica, Warlord, Wolf, Chris62, JohnnyEx, Sisch and the ubiquitous K4 (Who's Your Daddy?!?) and (of course) Ken and Roger, for their offerings of roles, putting up with me whittering on for hours on end and just plain comradeship in the last 12 months; thanks, guys!

And last, but by no means least, thanks to everyone who has watched Odyssey this year; I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I enjoyed writing and making it!

Thank you all, and see you all next year for Season Two!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Captain's Blog 12.12.09



Teaser One for Episode Seven; not brilliant but something to be going on with!

Been so busy with work and other stuff I've hardly got a chance to scratch me own bum right now machinima wise, but hoping to actually get some time over the festive season to kick back and check out some stuff at last!

Catch you all soon, peoples!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Captain's Blog 14.11.09

I shall be strutting my funky stuff on this week's Roger and Ken Show, discussing Episode Six and associated stuff, so please feel free to drop by and listen in, good people!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Captain's Blog 01.11.09



Yes, it's out at last; the penultimate episode of Season One is released.  A Leyland focussed arc episode, this is the first of a "not quite but pretty much" trilogy of episodes, taking us into the second season and setting things up for the ongoing season.

File download link is here.  Enjoy!  There are some audio glitches (the volume levels go out of whack in a coupla places, which is very annoying as I adjusted them all individually before I exported the complete movie... I think it's time to bin my patched-up sound card and invest in a new one finally ;))

One more to go... hopefully, I'll have this out by the end of the year.  Then, into scripting Blackstar and playing with iClone 4 (potentially for Season Two... if I can transpose all the required costumes and props across and make a set of characters that look like the principals!).

UPDATE: Oh my lord; dunno how it happened, but Episode Six has clocked up 171 views in a little less than 48 hours! 

Monday, 19 October 2009

Captain's Blog 19.10.09

Well, I took the plunge and shelled out for iClone 4 today.  Now all I need to do is learn how to use it ;)

I have been holding off on changing engines for a while until I was sure what I wanted to do could be done, and I think iClone 4 is as close as it can get right now to the potential for what I need for the future.

Episode Six principle shooting is now complete; I just need the last lot of VOs and I can start putting it together.  Episode Seven will follow on it's heels (already completed the precredits shooting for that), then Blackstar goes into full swing... then a few weeks back on the keyboard, frantically banging out Season Two... in between learning how to use my new toy, of course! :)

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Captain's Blog 14.10.09

Back to the grind then, now :)

And for some reason, I've been invited on The Weekly Look this Saturday on TMOA, to talk to my chums Chris and Norrie about script writing... they must be desperate for a last minute guest this week ;)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Captain's Blog 12.10.09

The Day After The Night Before...

And so it ends.  The First Ollies Show... what a night!

Hopefully everyone had fun; we had a few shocks, some expectations and a great time was had by all, I hope!

Needless to say, not everything went according to plan.  The Old Git (Mr K4 himself) bust his arm in two places on Saturday and was in a great deal of pain, yet (consumate professional that he is, bless his little cottons) he continued with a 4 hour stint on the show, in a fantastic MC performance that was worthy of an Ollie all by itself!  Well, maybe a few of the jokes could have done with the dust being blown off them BEFORE he wheeled them out, but still... ;)

Huge thanks to everyone who supported the awards, helped out with guest announcing (oodles of people; far too many to thank individually, but heartfelt gratitude to you all), musically (thanks Norrie, you Scots git!  Note the absence of the usual "miserable" there, as he made a gigantic effort to actually enjoy himself last night... though most of that was a drive to get MGM to snort on air, I feel...), organisationally (thanks Ken and Tom!), spiritually (especially that bottle of Glenfiddich that kept me sane throughout the show...)

Great turn out; chat was packed to the gills.  And some VERY close calls in the final round (a lot closer than some people might think, I reckon...).

All in all, I think everyone involved enjoyed themselves; we learned some lessons for next time, but overall everything went smoothly enough.

We'll be jigging the format a little for next time, and hopefully having a harder time when it comes to nominating and voting next time round!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Captain's Blog 11.10.09

THE FIRST ANNUAL TMUNDERGROUND  OLLIES AWARDS

From approximately 9:40 am Eastern (3:40 in the UK, 4:40 in Europe) we'll be streaming music from movie soundtracks - mostly from familiar movies - guess them all, win a prize! (not really)

At 1 pm Eastern, 6 pm in the UK, 7 pm in Europe, 4 am in Melbourne Australia, and 1 am in Perth, Australia, Norrie and The MGMKid will present the Ollie Award Red Carpet Show.

At 2 pm Eastern, 7 pm in the UK, 8 pm in Europe, 5 am in Melbourne, and 2 am in Perth, the Ollie Awards Broadcast will begin.

To listen, go to the TMOA website and select one of the streaming options or the flash player. Or, you can go to the TMOA Radio page at the all-new TMUTheater, and use the built-in player there.

Also plan to visit the TMOA chatroom (also available at the TMOA Radio page at the TMUTheater), where the official Ollie Party is being held - join nominees, presenters, and filmmakers from across the community while they enjoy the show. Your chatroom hosts will be the lovely JudyAnn88, with today's special assistant, Roger.

It should be a show to remember!


(Due to work commitments, I might not be around until later on in the show but will endeavour to get back ASAP to join in the festivities!  There are, however, some top-drawer film makers and community members who are going to be giving out the awards for each category and, hopefully, we should be able to get some interesting acceptance speeches on the night ;))


Have a great night, all.  And, while unfortunately there can be only one winner for each category, every one of the movies or individuals nominated are fully deserved of the votes they got; rock on, TMU! :)

I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank all those who have contributed in whatever small (or sometimes humongous!) ways to the initial endeavour; all this was done in little over two months, with the lion's share of the donkey work going to Tom and K4 in the last coupla weeks especially, for their organisational skills, MikeDeBoing and Guppi for their stirling mod work in creating the awards themselves (3 seperate engine mods, no easy feat, that...); Norrie for his hosting and musical abilities, and (of course) Roger and Ken for providing such a platform to entertain the machinima masses from :)

And, last but absolutely not least, every member of TMU who has contributed to the site and movies in the last twelve months... withotu you guys, there would be no need for the Ollies.

Now, let's go put on a show!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Captain's Blog 08.10.09

It's coming....

Yes, the premiere awards ceremony of the year is approaching; the First Annual TMU Ollie Awards will be hitting an internet stream near you this coming Sunday (11 October).

This weekend, Roger and Ken will be playing host to the awarding of these prestigious awards to those film makers, directors, voice artists, modders, writers, composers, etc, etc, that have sufficiently impressed the filmic collective at TMUnderground in the last year, that they went ahead and nominated them for an award!

So, this weekend, tune into the Roger and Ken Show for 5 hours of celebration of some of the best machinima work in the last 12 months!

Be there, or be a small right-angled, 2 dimensional cuboid!

Monday, 5 October 2009

Captain's Blog 05.10.09


Chatnoir's "Death in Venice"

I can't say enough good things about this; suffice it to say it's a masterpiece of machinima by two people who (should) need no introduction.

I can't do it justice in any amount of words (in my opinion, to do so would belittle it); you MUST watch this movie.  It's simply exquisite; nuff said.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Captain's Blog 22.09.09

Jesus...

What with work, real-life, The Ollies, slipping back into online gaming a little (D&D Online, now free, so have dabbled in that a little.  Don't think it'll hold any concerted interest for me long-term, but the missus does like to dip her toe in the water from time to time...), I seem to have had little time to do much of anything...

Except, of course, beavering away on Episode Six, penultimate episode of Season One!

Managed to sit down this weekend and actually get some shooting done; the first four scenes, in fact, and part of the sixth.  So it's coming along quite nicely, really.

Episode Seven will be the biggy, and am already swirling ideas around for the big changes coming in Season Two... can't say much at the moment, but it should ratchet things up nicely, tension wise! :)

Actually got some time (following the lurgy attack) to sit down and run off some lines that had been outstanding for a coupla friends, so with some luck and a following wind, I'll be back to where I should have been by this weekend.


Well, back to the grind... fare thee well, phantom reader!  Til next time...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Captain's Blog 06.09.09

THE OLLIES 2009 OFFICIAL NOMINATIONS

"(Listed in no particular order)

Best Picture
Saving Grace by Sisch; Temporary Night by Nukester; The Shadow over Innsmouth by JosephKW

Best Director
Sisch; JosephKW; Nukester

Best Actor
GoofParade; AnotherNewDawn; K4 (Tinman)

Best Actress
Sisch; Dulci; Ellie; Bella
(It was so close for 3rd place we decided to split the last one rather than make a snap decision about who should go on the shortlist)

Best TMU Newcomer
Act3scene24; Rage; IceAxe

Best Writer
Act3scene24; Sisch; thebiz

Best Drama
Kate Lee's The Afflicted by Sisch; Temporary Night by Nukester; Anonymous by Act3scene24

Best Comedy
The Clarks by act3scene24; Do You Like JosephKW Movies? By Macwemyss; Jesus V Easter: MS Edition by Mefune Akira

Best Western
The Phantom of The West by BenTuttle90; Theory of the Heart by Pookashells; Rio Diablo by TheMGMKid

Best Romance
Temporary Night by Nukester; The Story of Us by Jase180; The Lounge Singer (2009) by Dulci

Best SCI-FI
Saving Grace by Sisch; The Gray People by Moonlight Pictures (D.L. Watson); Coming Home by Lizard

Best Action
Valentine’s Day by Michael B6; Sitting on Top of the World by Bricks Films; The Expedition by animatechnica

Best Arthouse
Rochelle Rochelle by Biggstrek; Whitefish by thebiz; Clockwork by IceAxe

Best Fantasy
Angels V Demons by Capemedia; Grayskull by Rage; Kayna – Rik Vargard

Best Horror
Saimaya by Mefune Akira; Shadows over Innsmouth by JosephKW; Dark Tides of Innsmouth by JosephKW

Best Musical
Temporary Night by Nukester; Jesus Christ Superstar (Act 1 Scene 1) by Jase180; The Lounge Singer (2009) by Dulci

Best War
The Sniper by WarLord; Memoirs of Meuse River by Pookashells; The Expedition by animatechnica

Best Mystery
Transience by JosephKW; November: Pilot by Pookashells; The Dead Cases by Jase180

Best Trailer
For My Love, Theodora by act3scene24; November: Teaser Trailer by Pookashells; KoT: The Final Trailer by Rik Vargard

Best Soundtrack
Temporary Night by Nukester; Kate Lee's The Afflicted by Sisch (music by Sherwin Liu); The Intermediate by Sisch

Best Composer
Nukester; Biggstrek; Norrie

Best Sound Editing
Saving Grace by Sisch; Sorrows of the Spy by Orky; Temporary Night by Nukester

Best Sound Design
Saving Grace by Sisch; Temporary Night by Nukester; November by Pookashells

Best Set Use in a Machinima Movie
Cleopatra IV by TheMGMKid; The Expedition by animatechnica; The Grey People by Moonlight Pictures


Best Costume or Makeup in a Machinima Movie
The Expedition by animatechnica; Cleopatra IV by TheMGMKid; Saimaya by MefuneAkira.


Best Special Effects
The Grey People by Moonlight Pictures; Shadows over Innsmouth by JosephKW; Valentine’s Day by MichaelB6


Best Prop for a Machinima Movie
Tarison’s Bluescreen Sets by Tarison; Roger Thong by MarvellousGuppiMovies (Guppi); Castle Grayskull in Greyskull by BudBundysMullet


Best Short Form Film (<10 MINS)
Clockwork by IceAxe; November - pilot by Pookashells; She and I are Us by Nukester.

Best Long Form Film (>10 MINS)
Temporary Night by Nukester; Saving Grace by Sisch; Shadows over Innsmouth by JosephKW

Best The Movies Film
Temporary Night by Nukester; The Shadow over Innsmouth by JosephKW; The Gray People: Chapter One - Moonlight Pictures

Best Moviestorm Film
Saving Grace by Sisch; Clockwork by IceAxe; Café Insomniac by Hardycapo

Best iClone Film
Coming Home by Lizard; The Expedition by animatechnica; Soulking by Allpoint

Best Other Machinima Movie
Little Pablo by act3scene24; Sweet Nothingness by Overman; How it all began by Cloneposer


Best "Mash-up" or Anymation Movie
Saving Grace by Sisch; The Sniper by WarLord; The Windmill Song by Cloneposer


Best Screenplay
Temporary Night by Nukester; Kate Lee’s The Afflicted (Sisch and Kate Lee); Saving Grace by Sisch


Best Subtitled Film
Into The Reich by Harry; Emperivium by Harry; Next Door by Neonoir

Best Non-English Movie Award
Captain LeBorgne by RikVargard; Unfaithful by Meowan; The Writer by Laviv42

Best Live Action Movie
Dial for your Life by JosephKW; The Tell Tale Heart by Timothy Richmond; The Mice by Moonlight Pictures


Best PR Campaign
The Grey People by Moonlight Pictures; The Last Close Up by TheMGMKid; Whitefish by TheBiz


Best Movie Poster
Shadows over Innsmouth poster by Burkey1993; StarQuest: The Freighter poster by act3scene24; The Afflicted poster by Sisch


Most Helpful Community Member
Dulci; Ken; Chris62.


Funniest Comment on a Movie
(Due to the low number of submissions this year, this category was withdrawn with no clear shortlist)


Best Comment on a Movie
(Due to the low number of submissions this year, this category was withdrawn with no clear shortlist)


Most Entertaining Guest
Norrie; Act3scene24; K4

The Thong De Roger Award for Outstanding Contribution to TMU
Ken White; Dulci; K4


As before, the online form is


or via PM to Killian here on the boards.

This form is even easier to complete than the last (you don’t even need to type anything other than your name!); all you need to do is:-

1: Click the link above,
2: Fill in your TMU FORUM ACCOUNT name,
3: Tick ONE choice only for each category you want to vote for and
4: Hit SUBMIT

It can’t be any easier.

You have until September 27 2009 to vote on the nominees. Please note that there are NO abstentions for this final round; you MUST vote for every category.


So get VOTING HERE and have fun!

We would like to thank everyone who nominated in Round One and we hope to get as many votes as we did in the first round for Round Two and good luck to all the nominees!

Thanks

Tom and Killian"

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Captain's Blog 22.08.09

Episode Five is out at last.


A new update to the Odyssey website as well, giving some background detail to the episode (as there are for the others). And, I'll be on R&K Sunday night (once again... one day I'll get that pesky Ken to take this chain off my ankle...), discussing the events of Ep5 and where it takes the Odyssey universe.

Two more episodes to go in Season One...

Monday, 10 August 2009

Captain's Blog 10.08.09

Been a while since I last updated; with the TMU birthday celebrations, work, working on Episode Five and so on, it's been a bit manic :)

Any road, Tom and I launched the first Annual TMU Awards this weekend (named "The Ollies", in honour of the great reviewer of TMU days (thanks to K4 for the idea)).

Nominations are being sought from all registered TMU Forum members; there are 45 categories up for grabs, with some nice prizes up for the winners (not least of which are shiny forum badges and hopefully some in-game Olly props as well!).

To cast your votes, go HERE and complete the form. Submit it once filled out et voila! Job done!

First round votes need to be in by 31 August 2009; the top 3 in each category will be posted, and the second round voting will take place. The top nominated in each category will be judged the winner.

So, if you're a TMU member, pop over to the voting form and give us your nominations!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Captain's Blog 12.07.09

Finally got around to stitching all of the Finale pieces together into one long movie; it clocks in at 1hr 35mins all told!

Uploaded it to BlipTV but (after taking nearly 8 hours to get it on there, due to several issues), it failed to convert to Flash, so I can't embed the buggering thing anywhere :(

Oh well; it was more of an experiment to see how it worked out than anything else, so no biggy. It clocked in at 545mb (just too big for Vimeo as well...). The sound quality isn't great (as I had to re-encode the 5 completed files; I binned the Magix files and shot pieces ages ago to conserve space, so couldn't re-do all the pieces again), due to the audio tracks being encoded twice.

Any road up, it's here for those who have an interest in such things (it's just the 5 finale pieces all as one long movie; no additional material).

UPDATE: I finally got the host I wanted! I received confirmation tonight, so have moved the full site for (hopefully) the final time! It can be found HERE.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Captain's Blog 08.07.09

Work proceeding slowly on Episode Five... slowly but proceeding :) Done some initial shot work on Episode Seven for the exterior scenes and some mod work for Season Two.

New content added to the Odyssey Website (moved to ANOTHER host due to potential issues); check it out if you're so inclined :)

Should be appearing on Roger & Ken this coming Sunday to discuss "Castaways", so don't be afraid to Skype or PM Roger any questions you might have about the episode in specific or the series in general... or, indeed, anything at all (there's an hour to fill, after all, so it's best we have something interesting to talk about!).

There's no rest for the wicked... :)

EDIT: 11 JULY 2009: Grrr... the new, super-dooper webhost decided to stop working this morning, so have gone back to the 425mb one for now (buggering thing...). Apologies for the unconwenience...

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Captain's Blog 04.07.09

Odyssey: Episode Four is released.


An Odyssey Aid Team, on their way back to the ship after delivering medical aid to a distant colony, is forced down on an unexplored world.

There, matters are complicated by their need to work with some unexpected “visitors”; a situation which is not made easy by the feelings of the Aid Team’s commander, Lieutenant Commander M’raal...

Please enjoy and comment!

Now work commences to Episode Five... aiming to complete the current season by November or December at the latest.

EDIT: The new and improved Odyssey site is available now here; please bear in mind that it's a free host site and there's a bloody annoying Google ad banner smack across the top of it (unless you have Firefox and NoScript tuned to turn off googlesyndication, in which case it doesn't bother you). Please feel free to make suggestions or throw ideas into the mix for this as it will accompany the series as it goes along. Once the site is fully complete and all the basic details are filled in, I'll be moving it to a better host.

UPDATE: I've also mirrored the site HERE (better, as there is no honking banner; just one pop up when you first surf in, apparently), so will probably transfer the site to this host for now.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Captain's Blog 02.07.09

Odyssey Season Two Writers Wanted
In order to “spread the load” a bit next season, I’m looking for 2-3 outside writers who fancy taking a crack at an episode or two to free up some time for me to concentrate on other projects and not drive me mental trying to do 7 scripts in advance again! Plus, it gives the series a “shot in the arm” to introduce new ideas, concepts and a fresh pair of eyes to look over the universe.

I’m open to pitches and ideas for 45-50 min single episodes (initially) from interested parties. Please be aware that, due to the arc-based nature of the series, I may ask for some tweaks and rewrites here and there as part of the process and a brief synopsis of the idea, cast list and basic episode plan as part of the decision making process.


Advance notice of the post I'll be making once Episode Seven pre-production is underway; with a couple of extra scripts "in hand" and some fresh ideas, it will enable to me to take a breather a bit and not have things so manic next year!

Episode Four is cracking along nicely; 12 more pages to complete shooting and then the clean up/edit etc to commence. With some luck (and a following wind) it will be out sometime between this weekend and next (dependant on how fast things get done). Then, it's all guns blazing to pre-prod on Ep5 (pre-credits teaser and first scene already shot and awaiting VOs for that, so have a slight edge on that one).

It's all go Chez Cave at the moment!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Captain's Blog 01.07.09

Quick visit to say that the teaser has been released for Episode Four, "Castaways".

(Scuttles off to carry on slaving over a hot keyboard...)

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Captain's Blog 27.06.09

Finally made some time to create the new Odyssey website; there's not a lot on it at the moment, but it will be added to over time as Odyssey develops.

Episode Four (formerly Episode 5) continues to develop; had all the lines in from everyone now but the wife (who is completing hers over the weekend), so it may come out earlier than expected.

Well, that's enough waffle; back to work!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Captain's Blog 22.06.09

So much to do, so little time...

Working on not one but TWO Odyssey episodes at the moment (due to not knowing which one I'll be able to get out first; Episode Four is the next one slated, but due to RL issues, one of the regular cast may not be able to complete their lines before the "deadline" date. As a fall-back (and because I already had all the guest lines in and the two regulars who were needed for it were available and happy to "step up to the plate"), I am prepping Ep5 as well. That way, if I don't get the needed lines in for Ep4 in time, I can pull the old "switcheroo" and slot "the artist formerly known as Episode 5" into the Ep4 slot and vice versa.

Not ideal, as that puts three arc-heavy episodes together with no breaks (and requires a subtle rejig of the Doctor's lines for Ep4, due to the events of Ep5), but it's do-able without screwing things up.

It DOES mean, though, that if I DO get both lots of lines in in time, there could well be a double episode extravaganza for Odyssey fans, as Ep5 could well come out early (I might be a tightwad, though, and hold it back to it's proper release date at the end of August if that happens, as that gives me more time to work on the script for Blackstar in the meantime).

Another week off coming up, and am planning to get as much footage shot and effects stuff done then as I can in preparation.

Episode 4 (or 5...) marks the halfway point for Odyssey Season One, and a subtle shift in the emphasis of the series begins, leading into the last three episodes and the finale, which will continue in Season Two.

Season One "Shadows Lengthen" is coming to an end; Season Two "Twilight Begins" is soon to commence... and Season Three should contain some shocking revelations about the arc story and the Allianceverse... from an unusual quarter.

Stay tuned to my dribblings and the production threads on TMU for more as the time nears...

Friday, 5 June 2009

Captain's Blog 05.06.09

Bah, humbug.

Ok, so it's not Christmas, but the sentiment is there.

Dragged away for the weekend to a wedding, and not getting back til late Sunday night... and then back to work Monday morning. Oh joy; exactly how I wanted to spend my 2 days off...

Oh well... I shall catch you wonderful space cadets later no doubt!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Captain's Blog 03.06.09

For anyone who missed the prattle about Roger's acting and appearance in Episode Three, Ken's complaints about the lack of airtime Carpenter gets, writing the characters based on the actors, some bumpf about upcoming episodes and a little sneak info on Blackstar Rising, you can catch the download here.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Captain's Blog 30.05.09

It's the last day of May, and Episode Three is out and about at last.

Had some major issues with the sound in this one; the volume goes up drastically for some reason at around 30-35 minutes in, and is generally not great all through.

No idea why; I didn't do anything different to every other time I've exported, so am forced to conclude my dinosaur of a PC is starting to give up the ghost again (the sound card died not so long ago and I managed to cobble it back together, but reckon the whole thing is destined for the big scrapyard in the sky...)

Oh well; these things are sent to try us. Onwards and upwards and forwards, as they say; BSR to finish scripting and Ep4/5 to think about now... it's all go in the cave!

EDIT: It's the Sunday following an episode release... (which usually means I get to go on air and bore everyone who's listening into a coma with my inane drivel again!)

Yes, I'm on Roger and Ken once more, with my old chum the Plumbing God Mr Strange-Burlong, and the delightful Mr White as MC (as always), trying desperately to get us to talk about something... ANYTHING related to making machinima... best of luck, Ken :P

As ever, tune in HERE; if you have any interesting questions, fire them through to Ken or Roger on Skype before or during and I'll do my best to answer them (provided they aren't of the "two trains leave Chicago and New York..." variety, of course ;))

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Captain's Blog 24.05.09

The trailer for Episode Three, "Sins of Blood, Bonds of Honour" is out now at TMU.

(Scurries off to continue work on the episode...)

Friday, 22 May 2009

Captain's Blog 22.05.09

The Neon Age (A Cyberpunk/Dystopian Background)

As mentioned in the comment on the last post, this beast is an example of the "brainstorm" documentation I have knocking around on my PC. As I'll never get around to using it, I thought I'd post it here for dissection, examination or just perusal, as you will.

Bear in mind it was written to be used as a player handout for a campaign that never materialised, so it's a little rough round the edges.

Anyway, here it is...


NEON AGE
In the mid 21st Century, the world fell apart…

America, long the “policeman” of the world, succeeded in alienating nearly all their former allies under a succession of increasingly right-wing, fanatical Presidents. When the “Big Drought” came in 2035, and the grain belt crumbled and blew away in the scorching heat, many of their former allies scoffed and pointed fingers: “this is the price of your continued stubborness on climate change”, they cried.

It didn’t help them when the drought struck them, too…

Isolated, cut-off from aid and alone, America was a prime piece of real-estate, ready for asset stripping…

Which is exactly what the Pacific Rim countries did.

Megacorps had grown into existence in the early 21st century, with many of the large Japanese “Zaibatsu” and Australasian companies having employee numbers in excess of the population of some third world countries, and an annual turnover that dwarfed that of some 1st world ones.

As part of an undisclosed “deal”, several companies combined their efforts and effectively “bought out” control of America from the appointed leaders; the state of the economy and worsening social unrest and issues were so bad that no one complained. Indeed, some parties hailed the move as the first step on the road to recovery.

It wasn’t.

Huge chunks of the political and socio-economic infrastructure were seized and sold off to minor companies, almost like “toys”. The big Megacorps held onto the choicest parts for themselves, aiming to use the whole country as a massive “trials and proving ground” for their latest products and services. With a captive audience of millions, hanging on their every whim, they were in heaven.

America in 2096
Urban America
Today’s America is substantially different on the whole from the America of nearly 100 years before. The USA no longer exists; each state is owned and run by one or more corporate bodies, half-jokingly referred to as “Corporate Congress”; as a whole, these representatives of their parent companies dictate policy for the whole country. Much in-fighting, bribery, blackmail… even assassination, goes on in the corridors of power, as lower echelon wannabes try to climb the corporate ladder on the backs of their co workers.

Society is rigidly stratified; the poor get poorer, the rich get richer and everyone else strives to be and buy the next, best thing.

Bloodsports made a return; in a parallel with Ancient Rome, the corps instituted dangerous games and pastimes, not only to feed the bloodlust of the populace (and keep their thoughts turned away from causing problems for their corporate masters), but also to push new product. Street Football, Iceblading; all the teams are draped from head to foot in logos and the sports stars continually appear in ads designed to get people to buy everything that’s being sold. Nearly all movie stars, musicians, writers, artists etc, etc are either owned outright (body and soul…) as a corporate “asset”, or “lease” themselves out to a company (usually only the biggest, self-made Celebs and business minds can do this, though it is not unknown for former corporate “stooges” to amass enough money to “buy” themselves out of a company contract and go freelance).

Entertainment is big business; really manufactured bands, tv, movie and net stars appear on a regular basis, disappearing into obscurity as they are replaced by the newest “fad”.

The average “Joe in the street” is a corporate whore; everything they are fed they eat, everything they are told to wear, they wear; they are pretty much told what to do, think and say by 24 hour continual entertainment channels.

Life for the middle class American is really no different than it is today; they are all mostly wage-slaves, getting up, going to work, coming home, slumping in front of the TV with a beer, going to bed and starting again the next day. They all aspire to be the next TV, radio, movie, pop star, to be the next Bill Gates, the next John Madden… but painfully few have the drive, the skill, the looks or the intelligence to ever rise above their lot.

“Mentoring” is one way. A pretty, intelligent, skilled and/or malleable individual gets noticed by a corporate “scout” (or a company guy who knows a good thing when he sees it); these people are destined to hit the top (if they do as they say, act how they’re told and produce the goods for their corporate “sugar daddies”). Many of the big names of today got their foot on the popularity ladder through corporate sponsorship; if you have the talent, and a Corp latches onto you (or the other way round), you can go far.

Of course, if the public trend turns away from you at any point, and you can’t repackage yourself to re-appeal, you tend to disappear into the backstreet circuit, merely a shadow of your former glory. A lot of former corporate “darlings” end up suicide cases, drug addicts or worse, when they can’t handle the loss of attention from their once adoring fans any more.

Certain areas of the big cities have become “sprawls”; huge areas of semi-derelict blocks, streets, wasteground and industrial areas, inhabited by the lowest of the low. Gangs, pushers, pimps, terrorists, artists, dreamers and the fallen all gravitate to these areas. Thriving communities can spring up around the waste-belching industrial plants; jobs can be found for those willing to slave away in the dark and grime all day and night, for the capitalistic public still want all their shiny toys, and someone has to make them (on the whole, although robotics and cybernetics have made stellar leaps forward in the last century, it’s still cheaper to get a man to do the job). Failing that, service “industries” (from whorehouses to bakeries, drug dens to hypermarkets, cyber chop-shops to furniture stores) have sprung up to take advantage of the market available here, and these zones still see some of the rare free enterprise areas available to the man in the street (though even here, it’s no surprise to find corporate sharks circling for an opening in an area, if they think they can make a decent killing… In more than one sense of the word…)

Next up are the “hab zones”; these areas basically still resemble the old streets and communities of urban America. The middle classes fill these zones, and most of them pass their blinkered lives away without ever glancing downwards at the sprawl dwellers once (they tend to have their eyes so fixed on the distant, diamond-studded horizon of the corporate enclaves that they can’t see anything else).

The majority of the populace aspires to the “enclaves”, the home of the “noveau aristocracy”; the corporate movers and shakers and their toadies, toys and hangers-on. Big corporate names are almost as well known and publicised as the royals and old-style Celebs used to be; the slag-rags (tabloid press) are filled with the comings and goings, ups and downs of the moneyed set, and a multitude of vid progs and net broadcasts play out their playboy lifestyles to the adoring middle class sheep that lap up every morsel and beg for more to take them away from their hum-drum existence.

It’s not impossible for someone to rise from gutter to penthouse; it has been done before, but the individuals who have done so have shown remarkable intelligence, looks, savvy, skill and talent in order to do so.

Rural Areas
Much of America’s former natural beauty has disappeared, either destroyed by the rapacious, resource hungry corporations, packaged up and moved wholesale to the urban areas to be parcelled out piece by piece to those who can afford it, or has simply gone to seed. Increased climate change has made the whole Midwest region a giant dustbowl, where barely an inch of rain falls in a year. Los Angeles is a shattered wasteland, testament to the huge quake of ’58, which shattered the San Andreas faultline and plunged most of Southern California into the Pacific. The madhouse of San Angeles is all that is left, and most sane people agree that the weirdoes that live out this way these days make the old Californians seem like Buddhist Monks in comparison. The Nevada Wall was constructed in 2069 to divide most of the extreme West Coast away from “right thinking” folks (i.e. what’s left of the West Coast cities and towns had very little to interest the corps, so they pretty much left them to get on with it with no influence, with the obvious exception of Hollywood).

Hollywood, or Sunset City as it’s now called, is a sprawling conurbation that spills from the Hollywood Hills out around the surrounding area. Sheltered from the acidic rains and Pacific hellstorms by the topography of the region, butting onto the Nevada Wall for a great deal of its Eastern border and edged by the Great Los Angeles Rift on the north-west, it is still regarded as one of the greatest movie cities in the world (eclipsed only by New York’s Movieville, which is rapidly growing and may well overtake Old Hollywood as a desirable location in a few short years).

It is experiencing somewhat of a slow down nowadays, as a lot of the “smart money” edges slowly to the better developing east coast cities with their easier links to the vast markets of Eurasia and the British Republic. Still, as one of the original areas first “conquered” by the corps, many of the Megas still have their out of Pacifica headquarters situated there (and, indeed, as time passed and the Austra-Asian companies saw what an opportunity America was, many of them moved their HQs there to better oversee their “corporate take-overs”.)

Crime and Punishment
In the sprawls, crime is a fact of life. The general rule of thumb is “If you have something I want, and I can take it away from you, you didn’t deserve to have it in the first place”; possession is pretty much 100% of the law here. Drugs are rife, as is prostitution, slavery (of many different kinds), black market and cheap surgery, and a million other crimes are all accepted as pretty much “business as usual”.

Gangs tend to have well defined territories and areas of “exclusive access”; certain “crime families” are well known for dealing in specialised criminal areas, and syndicates spring up, get butchered and wither away regularly. Big gangs, or those syndicates with a structured and well-organised system, tend to hold the “best” areas, or control the best paying “businesses”. Corporate cops in the sprawls tend to be those who either know when to look the other way, or are from the feared Megacorps subsidiaries (rent-a-cops, most of whom are ex-military or working their way into corporate security). Law here is corporate law; dependant on the city you live in, and which corp owns the local cops, what’s illegal these days may be perfectly acceptable in New America (and probably is, somewhere). However, certain crimes are still considered heinous enough to warrant the “full penalty of the law” (which can range from a rainy alley and a Tamagori 10mm Predator shell in the back of the head, to a full court of law); these are the ones which are usually focussed on embezzlement, destruction of property, etc (as material assets are very important to corps, as you would imagine).

Murder, sexual crime, slavery, abuse; in most places these are still considered crimes and will be punished as such (unless, of course, the individual guilty of these crimes is a member of a corporate family or otherwise well connected…). Some crimes can be punished by “indentured servitude” in certain places (i.e. you effectively work for the corp for nothing until your “debt to society” is paid off), enforced conscription into hard labour units or the military and, for certain offences, a choice between death or entry into the “Entertainment Rehabilitation Program” (i.e. the criminal is offered the chance to enter a Bloodsports team and, if they successfully complete their allotted “term of service” (i.e. survive to finish their stint), they are free to go.).

Several of the top-rated athletes, Icebladers and Deathmatch stars of recent years were crims who went onto great success and eventually made their names in the business; however, those who enter a criminal life in order to try this shot at stardom be warned; they start in the Gutter Leagues where every step forward in progress makes you more and more of a target for “up-and-comers” who want to make a name for themselves… and what rules there are are often overlooked for the sake of entertainment or to ensure that a big money deal gets completed….

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Captain's Blog 20.05.09

Beware; tiredness may lead to bad spelling! ;)

Beavering away on Episode Three (just awaiting the final lines from 2 cast members now to embark on putting everything together so, provided they arrive in time, I can get it all completed next week while I'm off work :)).

WotW script completion next week, too (hopefully; need to get back into the rythm of that writing again, as it's different from my usual fare), and more work on my K4 collaboration project (stoked about that, as it should prove to be a very fun and interesting one to do!).

Decided that, once I have the sponds available, am gonna splash out and pick up the Moviestorm packs I need and launch into that for my previously mentioned horror/action/supernatural movie "Faithful Dawn" (based off the RPG campaign I mentioned a few posts back), purely as it will give me more scope to portray how the feel of the movie should be.

As good as iClone is, I just can't get into using it (and I simply don't have the available cash or time to pick up the stuff I'd need to do what I want with it; I find MS more intuitive for the way I tend to work. Horses for courses, I guess.)

Shadows of Albion is also something I'll get into properly at last once I have MS available (simply because TM can't handle the fighting sequences I'd need to do); not sure whether MS can handle it, either, at the moment, but am determined to give it a go once I'm fully into "fantasy" mode!

Season Two of Odyssey is naturally occupying my thoughts as my long-term focus; once Season One is well underway, am gonna throw the door open to submissions from other writers who fancy a crack at writing an episode or two (which will take the pressure off me slightly next season), provided I can get some good writers in who "get" the feel and direction of the show; by that point, the characters and situations will be well-established and therefore it should be easier for others to pick up the "feel" of the series and be able to script for it... hopefully!

I'm keen to get "fresh blood" in on the picture to prevent it getting stale and, also, to get some more character development on the characters from a different set of eyes. There is a lot still in the closet for the brave crew of the good ship Odyssey (especially what happens to them in the finale, which will really stir things up a bit!), and a lot of interesting history they each have, which is yet to be fully revealed (some hints have been dropped already in the Pilot and the two released episodes; can you spot them? :)).

Am working on the Season Two opener, which will develop the arc story a little more, expose a bit about certain character's pasts which have been alluded to, and rev the engines up for the new season (which will be a little darker in tone than the first, as the interstellar situation begins to change following the happenings at the end of season one). I have a definate idea about how the arc itself will develop, but there is always room for "one-offs" and character pieces are still going to be the main focus of the show, even with the "big picture" in mind and a definate end goal in sight, even though that end goal is still waaaaaay off in the distance.

I have an idea to eventually go back and examine what the crew and other characters were up to prior to them coming aboard the ship (which will hopefully fill in the blanks on some of their backstory), but that will be a way down the line (as the audience needs to find out a little more about them first before I start throwing out the revelations!)

I also toyed with the idea of doing a "spin-off" mini-series, examining other aspects of the Odyssey universe (a bit like K4 has done with Conquest), with a project under the working title of "War Stories", designed to look a bit more at how the Stellar War affected individuals we know and new characters (initially, the idea was to look at a ground-based military unit during the war and see how the conflict shaped them as people, based perhaps on one of the "resistance" groups behind Canis lines which I mentioned in the backstory posts on the TMU forums). I might get around to that at some point, or I might even hand it off to someone else to do, if there's any interest in it from a third party.

Alternatively, it might go onto the "slush pile" for sometime-never, yet... I have too many ideas, and not enough time to form them all into projects!!!

Well, the Allianceverse is a big place and there's plenty of room to spread wings in it, so you never know!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Captain's Blog 18.05.09

All done.

Season One is completed script-wise, and the scripts have winged (wung? I dunno!) their way out to the regular cast and guest stars a plenty.

Got some mighty fine talent lined up for future episodes (again, massively thankful for the assistance of some great VOs who've come onboard to do, in some cases, widdly little parts to help out, which is great, ego-boosting and (as ever) humbling!).

Work plodding along on Episode Three (but, as I'm off on leave next week, it'll give me uninterrupted time to beaver away and complete it at my own, frentic speed as usual!)

On the other people's work front, some corking movies out this week; The Expedition by Animatechnica/Aknzrdude; a project I was happy and honoured to work on with some fine Voice actors. Great looking movie, great story (I had NO clue what the final sequence in the temple was; the sneaky devil kept it under his hat!!); loved the experience.

And, of course, my old chum Biggsy has cranked out another laugh-fest in The Thonginning (starring some familiar voices and Deuce the Dog's first on-screen acting role as himself... bugger me, he's a big lad ;))... now heed thy wife and stop slacking off on HotD, idle git!

Picked up a great cheese recipe, kindly posted by Mr Sinclair, which I shall be feverishly enjoying this weekend (boy, I LOVE cheese... probably explains where my bizarre thought-processes come from, to be honest...). Mad busy at work this week so next week (Bank Holiday weekend in the UK; woo-hoo!!) I'll be enjoying the rest... well, enjoying NOT being at work, anyway :)

Anyhooo, I must away and do some more scripting and shooting and modding and other "ing" things, I guess... toodle-pipski for now!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Captain's Blog 10.05.09

Star Trek
Went and saw the new Trek movie today...

Was impressed with it; as mentioned elsewhere, it will no doubt have Trekkers up in arms due to the playing around with canon, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (don't go to the flicks as much as I used to anymore; little time and am very picky about what I go and watch (due to it costing nearly £7 bleedin quid a chuck for a ticket these days, and that's without munchies...).

Out of the lot, I thought Karl Urban did the best at capturing the persona of the character he was playing (if he was still alive and you "de-aged" DeForest Kelly and put him in this movie, I defy you to tell the difference, he was that good...); Zachary Quinto did an admirable job (having to carry the character of Spock), and he pretty much did it well (it helps that he bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Leonard Nimoy anyway); Chris Pine did ok as Kirk (some nice little character moments but all-in-all he didn't have a massively hard job, let's be honest). Some of the other characters I thought came over far too much as characatures of themselves (Chekov and Scotty, to my mind, were played far too broad) and the character of Uhura... well, aside from the fact she was a fine lookin' lady, her role entailed a BIG change to the established canon of TOS Trek (no spoilers here, folks! You wanna know, go watch the film!)

Good fun for 2 hours; it will have the rabid Trek fans frothing madly at the mouth, but as posted elsewhere, it's a new take on an old franchise that has brought it bang upto date. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, sure, but there won't be a finer sci-fi blockbuster out this summer, I'll lay money on it (and yes, I know the new Terminator movie is coming out... pretty much sums up what I think about that, I feel :P)

Definately worth watching if you aren't a rabid fan of TOS but like a good sci-fi action flick (which, ultimately, is what this is, once you get past all the "canon" bumpf). Yes, being a huge geek there were some moments that made me say "hang on a second..." (even WITH the huge plot "twist" in the last third of the film; again, no spoilers!), but there are also some nice little throwaway lines and nods to the fans tucked away in there (play "Spot the Tribble" with your friends! ;)).

So, all in all, I'd give it an 8 out of 10 (only docking 1 point for some criminally underused characters and cardboard walk-ons that deserved more, but I kinda figured well, it's got to set up Kirk and Spock first, I suppose, so it's understandable, and another point for that goddawful "self-assembly modern minimalist look" of the new Enterprise... the old TOS version had a certain grace about it; this one looks like it was cobbled together in 30 minutes after someone threw away the instruction manual... and put the nacelles on the wrong way round, for starters; a BIG let down to see one of the "stars" of the film get such shoddy treatment).

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Captain's Blog 07.05.09

Well, as I've had a load of VOs back for Ep3, I've embarked on starting to put the next episode together already. Got the effects shots done and out, ready for dropping in, and did the first sequence I can complete with the VOs available last night.

Bleedin Kwis; already done ALL his lines for Episode 3, 4 and 5 (and, bearing in mind he does FOUR seperate roles in Episode 5, the fact he rattled off all 4 (AND they all sound different!) is just mind boggling... and I thought I didn't sleep... it seems to be catching...)

So, with all seven episodes written, Episodes One and Two shot and released, and Episode Three underway, things are looking nice and organised for Odyssey.

My Conquest project is coming along nicely; Master Yodel seems happy enough with what I've scribbled down so far, so all good on that front.

Busy as hell at work right at the moment and, coupled with Skype playing silly buggers the last few days and a potential HD error that has reared its ugly head in the last coupla days as well, I'm not as active as I usually am right now; managed to get a coupla hours shooting done last night setting up my episode 3 studio lot, loading in the cast and guest stars and getting the first sequence done, so am hoping to get stuff filmed and out as time progresses. Doing it in small chunks means a) less mad scrambling to get it all out in one big run at it, b) more time to key up cameras and sets how I want them and c) enables me to switch in and out of "director" mode and "writer" mode to avoid burning out by doing one or the other too much.

Well, more stuff to do so away we go, into the wild blue yonder...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Captain's Blog 03.05.09

I don't often post or follow live-action fan films, but this one made me make an exception; and I'm glad I did.

The Hunt for Gollum
is based on the happenings "off stage" during the first part of Lord of the Rings; a fan-made movie which took 2 years to make and cost £3,000... and it looks sensational.

If you're in any way a fan of fantasy or LotR in particular, do yourself a favour and check it out. The movie was simultaenously released on-line and screened at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival.

My suggestion? Sit back, load it up and enjoy some pretty damned nice stuff for 40 minutes.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Captain's Blog 01.05.09

New month, new blog post...

Finally cracked Episode 7 (in a marathon 2 days write-a-thon), so at last Season One's scripts are all in the bag, baby! Just awaiting cool-off and "Eagle Eye" check, final edit and brush-ups and they can be safely put to bed.

It's just a matter of making em all, now...

Work commenced on my CQ script (which is coming together pretty well at the moment); should be a nice, dark piece when it's finished, if all goes well :)

I actually wrote the last two scenes first, as they were the ones that came to me when I was brainstorming the project, so it's a matter of now linking the start and finish together without dragging it out too much (one thing I can safely be accused of ;)).

Still thinking about the script for at least one other project, aside from the one mentioned a few days ago, which I'm not going to reveal anything about, save to say it has to be a good one as it's for someone who is a VERY talented director and I don't want to skimp on anything for that. It has to be spot-on.

Not much else to say at the moment, other than go and watch Shadow Over Innsmouth if you haven't already.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Captain's Blog 29.04.09

Wooo-weee! It's out, and it's a doozy!

Yes, that Master of Macabre wows us all again with the release of his adaption of HP Lovecraft's "The Shadow over Innsmouth"; a tour-de-force Mythos tale that is, in my opinion, Joseph's best work to date!

With some incredible visuals, a solid script, great performances from the main cast and some damned fine ambient music and effects, this is a stunner. The chromakeying alone is absolutely top-notch (I defy you to spot the joins in a couple of the sequences!). An all-round must watch!

As a rabid Mythos fan myself, I was especially stoked to see this beauty, so go watch it (with the lights off, in a dark room, wearing headphones for the full effect).

It doesn't get much better than this for fans of the macabre... watch it, watch it NOW!!!

Oh and I'm nearly 2/3 through the first draft of Episode Seven as well, but that's not important right now!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Captain's Blog 26.04.09

At last; the Episode Six script is completed in first draft and off to my checking guy for first looky-loo. In the meantime, the double length season finale Episode Seven is underway and upto page 11 as I type. The blockage I had with Episode Six which stymied me for weeks has been blown out the airlock at long last, and hopefully now I can get back on track and crack out what I was trying to achieve all week (namely, completing Season One scripting and getting started on my CQ script).

TMOA tonight, in the company of Uber and old K4, which should be fun. Wrench packed in case Roger goes off on one, so tis all good.

Anyway, stuff to do, mods to complete, more writing to do. Auf Wiedersehen (for now!)

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Captain's Blog 25.04.09

Bah...

Why "bah", you say? No, I haven't suddenly turned into a sheep overnight (sorry Norrie :P), but have been beating my head against a brick wall for some time now with Episode Six. I just can't get the premise to work properly. So, after some serious thought, I've plumped for extending the plotline for Episode 7 backwards by an episode (purely because, being rational about it, with the scope of that Episode, it'd be madness to try and cram everything into it that I was going to... 4 seperate stories, each important to the overall plot, in two episodes? Crazy).

So, I've gone back to the drawing board. I've salvaged what scenes I can from the original draft and am embarking on the huge job of putting together the season finale, split over two episodes. I've already got the major notes, it just needs some tweakage to bring it together.

In (vaguely) other Odyssey related news, I was massively pleased to see that JosephKw's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" is nearly ready for release. I've been a huge HP Lovecraft fan for years (ever since coming across my first copy of "The Call of Cthulhu and other Macabre Tales" in a second hand bookshop in Manchester many gibbous moons ago), and Joseph is quite simply a master at portraying Mythos tales on screen; everything else will definately get dropped the second that gets released!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Captain's Blog 24.04.09

Roleplaying and how it translates to the Machinima Hobby
Spurred on by the comments on my last post, I thought I’d wax lyrical about the fine art of Roleplaying in this blog entry, and how it made a huge impact on me, both as a writer and a machinima director.

As with most people who got into the hobby, I first stumbled across the delights of RPG when I was a wee laddy at school and the Games Club put on a display of a fantasy battle with full array of miniatures. I was hooked; I’d already devoured fantasy writings by such luminaries as Haggard, Howard, Tolkein (naturally) and a slew of the cheap knock-off fantasy books that seemed to appear overnight in WH Smiths during the 1970s, so this was the natural next step.

I cut my teeth on the old Red Box Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set, rapidly being pushed into the role of DM, as no-one else wanted to spend the time to put adventures together and sit there behind a cardboard screen describing that dank, slimy dungeon corridor again for the 10 millionth time.

From there, I was initiated into the ranks of other classics such as Traveller, Star Frontiers, the old FASA Star Trek game, Aftermath (where I learned rapidly that masses of tables showing just how deadly a .303 bullet is when it hits your left ear-lobe do not an attention-grabbing game make…), Gamma World, Chivalry and Sorcery, Runequest, Golden Heroes, Call of Cthulhu… the list goes on.

Then, my gaming group and I ventured into the murky realm of compiling our own rules set as we came to realise that the D&D rules we were using at the time just couldn’t cut it for some of the stuff we needed for our joint campaign (one of the other players and I alternated play sessions with two disparate groups of characters, each on a separate continent, that eventually grew into an epic campaign of world-spanning and world-changing adventure.)

Eventually, family, job, real-life issues and problems and other factors all contributed to the group fragmenting and falling apart after a great 5 years of regular gaming sessions. Some wonderful characters developed out of those sessions, which I still remember fondly (and not so fondly!), which really left an indelible mark on me.

As I started my initial shakey steps into the minefield of Machinima last year, the ghosts of my misspent youth (and adult life!) dredged themselves up from the past. I could almost feel the same energy, creativity and excitement growing around me as I sat down to write the first instalments of Odyssey. Long forgotten adventures, scenes, dialogue, most of which actually happened in sessions whilst sat around my gaming table, came rushing out of the mists of the last 20 years or so to spring, fully formed, back into my mind.

Geeky hobby? Sure. Looked down upon by the majority of folks at the time? Most definitely. An enormous source of inspiration, enjoyment and fertile ground for the hobby I now enjoy? You betcha! The lessons I learned in constructing plots, characters and adventures during those years definitely served me in good stead, and frequently the techniques I called upon back then still get pulled out to assist me now.

As said in my first TMOA interview, many moons ago now, the advantage of seeing your creation taken out and driven by your “audience” (i.e. the players) and getting almost instantaneous feedback from it as the story unfolded definitely helped me in my construction. NPCs brought to life with twitches, coughs, bizarre accents all get called upon again when a voice is needed. Convoluted plot strands, twists and turns and the less-than-white actions of some of the PCs in the various groups I had the pleasure to play with all serve well when fleshing out characters and situations.

Roleplaying has given me a lot of joy, over the years. Sadly, I have little to no time anymore to involve myself in the hobby as I once did, but one glance over my shoulder at the boxes and shelves here in the Cave, still groaning under the weight of myriad rulebooks and supplements, still raises a wry smile. And, boy, are they excellent sources of inspiration for writing scripts and characters!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Captain's Blog 23.04.09

Episode Two complete and out; some pre-prod done on Episode Three (all the actors now cast for that); all actors cast for Episode 4; all actors ready for Episode 5. One of the guests confirmed for Episode 6 and a slew of people to approach for the two part Episode 7/8 season finale. Just have to complete the scripts now! Episode Six first draft is about 1/3 written (after three false starts, I think I've finally licked it)... some of the intro to Episode 7 written and the general plot worked out in rough.

War of the Worlds Part Three still to complete, but with Chris out of action, Section 3 to re-film and another project in the pipeline for him, there's no rush to get that out. My not-so-secret Conquest project is then next up on the block, then my plate is relatively clear.

Which will enable me to look at a project I've "ummm"ed and "ahhh"ed about for a while; a modern adventure/horror tale, based on a long lasting RPG campaign our group played for quite some time (and one I didn't write, for once!)

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Captain's Blog 18.04.09


Phew! Episode Two is completed at last and should be uploaded in the next couple of days; final checks to do and then I can render it out. Then onto finishing Episode 6 (well, rewriting it, to be frank; since I took a break to do some shooting, I've had a much better idea for the penultimate episode, which still keeps the focus on the character of Leyland, but challenges the character in a much more direct way. Of course, as always, there will be ties to the backstory (going all the way back to the pilot and beyond...), hints about the arc plot and the set-up for the season finale.

Bad news on the War of the Worlds front; Chris' PC died a death and he lost a fair chunk of the work he'd already done on Part Three. However (and given the fact he's limited to using his son's PC at the moment), I THINK he's going to redo that part as a mostly iClone movie, which should be a real interesting result (so, there may well be an up side to the death of his machine, after all). Not positive on this, yet, as I haven't been able to speak to him about it yet, but more news as and when.

Got a whole (well, not quite a whole) week off at last to feck about and finish my outstanding projects off; due to the enforced stop on WotW, that means I can take my time a bit more polishing the last script up and taking out some of the overly wordy monologues which plagued Part One a bit (hard to translate the text into visuals when you're not directing it yourself and, with the original novel and album being narrated, I wanted to keep very much in that vein for the movies, but it's harder for the director to conceptualise the scenes if you've basically got the principal actors describing everything that's happening on screen at the same time!)

More to do to finish off Episode Two (might cobble together a little post-credits something with the lines I already have in for Episode Three, which could be fun...); chores (boo!) to complete, so will add more later.

Enjoy your Saturday, phantom readers!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Captain's Blog 14.04.09

Well, Fourth Wall Break is out (a little disappointed it hasn't got as many views as I thought it might... and the seeming lack of interest in the contest itself is very disappointing, which is one reason why I made it (Dulci's come up with a very cool concept, that should have sparked a lot of entries... or so I would have thought); it seems to have been missed in the sudden scramble people have made for the Trailer contest, which is a major shame).

Anyway, onwards and forwards (or upwards); Episode Two is well on the final leg now. Last scene to construct and shoot tonight, then the last three to insert VOs into and initial editing. A couple of remounts to do (as only just located a prop for a vital section of the episode, or else the dialogue doesn't make a lot of sense...), final editing for soundtrack, etc and done. Then, pre-production starts on Ep3, which will be a heavily effects-laden episode (so am gonna get those shots done and in the bag first).

Happy to say I've got all but one guest-star role cast with some great acting talent for Ep3, and all the guest stars for Ep4 have been cast already. Got a couple of envisaged roles to fill for Ep6 and then the season finale (where a lot of old faces will return, but not necessarily as people remember them...).

Back to work for 4 days today; then off for 3 days, then back in to go to a meeting in the provincial hell-hole of Solihull, armpit of the Midlands... then off til the following Weds (so hoping I can finally get my writing done at last on my outstanding projects).

Monday, 13 April 2009

Captain's Blog 13.04.09

Oh well, I decided to put my creativity where my mouth is and came up with THIS for Dulci's Machiniwhat? Contest.

The opening and end sequences were done in Moviestorm (purely because I needed something that was different from the main Movies footage to contrast the two; I did toy with using real-life footage, but then figured that anyone looking at my ugly mush for more than 5 seconds would scream and run a mile, and I wouldn't get many viewers that way ;)); surprisingly easy to get to grips with after some initial "Whuh? What? How??" (yes, I never read the manual, as long-time peeps will know :P).

Oh well, there it is. And, hopefully, this will spur some life into a very interesting contest which should get a lot more interest than it has had so far...

I mean, SOMEONE has to do something better than what I came up with in 15 minutes of brainstorming, surely?

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Captain's Blog (Supplemental)

Ok... got the script done, the VOs in from all but one of my actors, the middle section shot and all but one lot of VOs inserted; got the top and tail sections completed in MS... just the final VOs to enter, complete editing and out she comes!

Can't post any screenies other than this one or I'll give away the story (what there is of it!), so here's a little "peak-ette" at my Moviestorm debut (as crappy as it is)... and yes, the character is based on moi!

The Fourth Wall

The Fourth Wall

Hopefully, I'll have this completed in the next day or so if I get the lines back quickly.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Captain's Blog 04.04.09

Busy on the Episode Two front, so not had much chance to jump on here and scribble any old drivel down as usual.

I've decided to "branch out" a tad from sci-fi for a short which I'm entering into the Machiniwhat? Contest (the concept sounded great when I thought of it and anyway, if nothing else, it allows me to spread my wings a bit from sci-fi for once into the realms of low comedy (VERY low; don't expect many laughs :P)), based on an idea that struck me like a bar of falling soap one evening in the shower (I really must move that shelf, thinking about it...).

For this, am trying to find the time to learn a bit of Moviestorm to do the opening and tail ending of the short (the middle section is being shot in The Movies, for reasons that will become apparent when you see it); my initial forays were not... good, shall we say :P

Still, it's all a learning curve as a wise man once told me, so if nothing else it's a fun diversion from the usual. More as and when (well, probably when it comes out, to be honest ;)).

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Captain's Blog 19.03.09

The Writing Process II: Doing the Donkey Work

Ok, based off what we've already covered, we have the basis of our story outlined. We have a pretty good idea where it's going, and we're now ready to start, right?

Yes, we are! :)

The big thing about writing is you MUST DO IT! There's no magic way for it to get done if you don't sit down and actually put pen to paper or finger to keyboard; no-one else is going to sit down and do it for you, so you are not only the workforce on this, but also the project manager and the hard taskmaster as well.

Everyone writes differently, at different times, speeds and in different locations. Some like to use dictaphones to get down ideas or specific scenes, others just sit down and turf it out. Work however suits you best.

Writing Speed. Now, some of us are blessed with the ability to write quickly; note that this doesn't mean we necessarily write well! I tend to be able to write fast when I get really caught up in something, but when I do my editing pass (see later), I immediately spot spelling errors, problems with certain lines, etc, etc. I don't let that stop me when I'm brainstorming; the important thing is to get it completed, then worry about the minutiae later. Get the thing written first before you start messing around tweaking here, changing there, adding things right, left and centre. To go back when I'm halfway thru writing something and start making changes is death to my creative process and, I suspect, to most other people's. You spot something that needs correcting, so you do. Then you see something else, and something else. Maybe it'd be better if they said this? Oh, now that line won't work so I have to change it.... now THAT won't work, so I have to change it again... and so on, and so on...

Leave the editing til the end! There'll be plenty of time to worry about that afterwards... for now, just get the script written and worry about the content later.

Where shall I do it? Set out a time and place to write; outside distractions are the worst thing possible for any writer. There's nothing worse than settling down to start an evening's draft, to then get distracted by the telly, or kids playing, or a million other things. You HAVE to be disciplined if you're gonna get this finished sometime this year, so apply that discipline to your writing from day one.

How much is not enough? How much SHOULD you be writing at one go? Well, only YOU can decide this. A page? A whole scene? The whole script? Or just one line? Sometimes it can take several hours of agonising to get one line "just so", so a productive night's work in that case may be one or two lines. In another case, you might suddenly get hit by your "muse bat" and take off, writing the whole thing in one sitting. Neither way is wrong; if it works for you, great. If it doesn't, find a way that does!

I think, therefore it is...
Always, but ALWAYS, think about what you're writing. If you slap any old crap down on the page, it will show. Don't try to write about a subject or in a genre that doesn't interest you, or you'll be doing yourself a disservice. Trying to write a detective noir story if you really don't like that kind of tale isn't going to lead to a happy ending (at least, not until you get a lot more experience under your belt, at any rate), primarily as your disinterest in the writing will shine through off the page; stilted dialogue, formulaic scenes with no care taken to construct them, etc. Trust me; it won't be a movie YOU will want to watch, let alone anyone else :)

In the next part, we will examine the actual construction of the script and use a few examples to demonstrate what I've been blathering about upto now :)

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Captain's Blog 12.03.09

Blog Two: The Writing Process: Part One

Ok, so... we have the initial structure of what we want to achieve in the episode scrawled down... we have the 6 questions answered (or, at least, we have an idea what the answers are, even if they aren't fully formed yet), and we're ready to launch into the writing, right?

Well, yes and no...

Ok, so now you're confused, right? Well, we're NEARLY there; there's just a couple of extra bits to tack onto the existing processes before we're ready to pick up the pen/sit at the keyboard and launch into the mammoth task of writing the whole thing.

And that is, of course, our base framework.

Now, you might think we already have a base frame outlined from the previous sections, but that's not what I mean. And, this base framework doesn't have to be something written down in "hard copy" format. It just has to be a general overview of the flow of the story as a whole, so you have waypoints to aim for.

When writing a long piece, it can sometimes be a daunting prospect to be staring at a blank page and wondering "how the hell am I going to write 30+ minutes of movie?!?". Using a base framework will at least give you an idea where you're going.

It can be as simple as Point A) Joe wakes up, cleans himself up, eats breakfast and leaves for work, for example. Now, that one line can be shot in a myriad of different ways, dependant on the other factors we've already addressed. Does Joe have a partner? Any kids? Is there any dialogue in this first scene? Is it all just done in a series of quick shots to establish the process he goes through every day, or is this day "special" for any reason?

Questions like this will help to form a basis from which to expand the initial scene. It could be a 30 second montage; it could be a 5 minute discussion about astrophysics, it really depends on what the purpose of this scene is.

Now, in 95% of instances, the scene needs to do one of three things:-

1) Further the plot of the story,
2) Provide further information on the character and/or his/her personality
or 3) Act as a buffer or establishing shot between two other scenes to avoid overload.

Now, Point 3) is a special case; these "padding" or "transistion shots" are sometimes required to enable smooth movement from one situation to another (for example, someone getting out of a chair and walking into another shot where action or dialogue happens, etc). They are usually used to break up long dialogue sequences, establish a mood or situation or to act as elapsed time.

The question you need to ask yourself is: "Does this scene fulfil one or more of the above criteria?". If the answer is no, seriously think about leaving it out unless it's a quick scene (such as showing the character getting out of a chair or leaving a room) being used as a transistion; extraneous extra scenes only add to the running time of the movie and can hurt the current mood or flow of the story if you aren't careful.

Examples of this kind of shot abound in Odyssey (tracking shots of the ship flying through space or sitting in orbit spring to mind). These kind of "establishing shots" help to form natural breaks between sections of the narrative and keep the viewer up-to-date on the current time, location and situation, so they don't get lost when a scene change happens. For my own use, they tend to be short, concise one or two liners, just to "jog the memory" about how the set a mood or location in the viewer's mind.

So, keep your "filler" shots firmly in mind as you start the initial writing... which we'll cover in the next installment :)

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Captain's Blog 10.03.09

Blog One: The Idea II
Ok, so we have established in yesterday's opener that Leyland's character has been a little one-dimensional upto now, so we're going to "plump it out" a bit in this episode. We've given him a very bare family background (happy, supportive parents and maybe a sibling)... we've established that the continuing story of the "behind the scenes" political situation is going to be furthered a bit in this one... and there's an additional caveat to add now; this episode has to set up the happenings in the season finale. As such, there is a literal "plot device" that I need to ensure makes a prominent appearance in this episode (not going to mention what it is, or what it does, so as to preserve the surprises for the episode itself, but will allude to it under the "PD" heading throughout the following blogs).

So, we have a PD, a bit of backstory (that will get some fleshing out as we progress) and a mysterious "end goal" in sight for this episode (already worked out in the initial plot plan).

Before I go on, a word about Plot Plans. I feel that, for an episodic format, a Plot Plan is absolutely essential. I need to be able to plan out how and where the course of the over-arcing story is going to go through the course of each season (for two main reasons; 1) to ensure that the "end point" of each season is met and 2) to make sure that I know the essential questions for each episode, and the season in general; who, what, where, how, why, when. Who is featured in the story? What are they doing? Where are they doing it? How are they doing it? Why are they doing it (the most important question)? When are they doing it? Get basic answers to these 6 questions, and we have the bare framework of a plot.

Who is obvious; Leyland. What are they doing? At this point, that's still a little nebulous, so we'll come back to that. Where is going to be Earth (dictated by the appearance of the character's family, but also (and more importantly) the place where the main part of the story is going to play out. How is he doing it? Well, in order to break his "mould" a little, I decide that Leyland is going to be forced into working "undercover" for some reason; this challenges his usual method of operating strictly "by the book", and will force him to make some decisions that he wouldn't normally have to face, which is all good character developing stuff. Why? Well, that is part of the main plot of the episode, which will become apparent as we go forwards. When? Well, time-wise this is pretty much the least important of the questions on this occasion, but could become important later on.

So, there we have the bare bones of our plot process; the initial idea nugget (as mentioned in yesterday's post), fleshed out by the addition of a character with the potential of not only external conflict situations (being undercover immediately brings attendant risks), but (in the case of the character we've selected to showcase) also the inner conflict of a man needing to face his own limitations and personal code of ethics head on. Lots of juicy stuff there!

To bring this into relief a bit more, let's examine an existing episode and see how the process works. Episode One was written specifically to showcase the character of Albrecht (as she didn't get much chance to do anything in the finale). In this instance, I wanted to demonstrate several aspects of her character in order to flesh her out a bit more. She's friendly, yet authoritative (the exchanges with Cross, Ryan snf the Major indicate this); she's also fiesty and fully capable of looking after herself (the confrontations with Ryan and Mannheim); however, there are also hints of a deeper and perhaps darker side to our beloved First Officer (the implied fact that she embarked on an illicit affair with Mannheim and seemingly used him for her own ends was deliberately written to turn the stereotypical situation on it's head; no simpering woman bemoaning the fact she was used and dropped when no longer needed here... oh no; we reverse the roles and find Mannheim in the firing line for that part! The fact that he acts the way he does takes some of the heat off the implied treatment he received by Albrecht, but at no point does she deny what he says, notice...)

She is obviously very close to Ryan (how close, and at what stage their relationship is, is never stated), she is capable of reacting instinctively to something she doesn't like (the "slap heard round the ship") and could quite easily be charged with allowing her emotions to cloud her judgement and overrule her objective thinking (well, she IS human, after all, and not some flat, 2 dimensional cardboard cut-out!); hopefully, all this rounds her out a bit more as a "real" individual.

The 6 Questions, when applied to Episode One, work a little like this:-

1) Who (Albrecht, obviously, but to a lesser extent Ryan, Cross and the other crew)
2) What (obstensively a story about piracy, it's really about our perceptions of people, how circumstances can affect our "destiny" and what lengths we are prepared to go to in our quest for "happiness")
3) Where (not so important in this episode, as we flit about quite a bit)
4) How (by using the character of Mannheim as a "mirror", we examine a little of what makes Rachel who she is as a person and round her out a bit more, as well as expanding the Odyssey universe a little with our first glimpse at the Scolian League, filling out the overall tapestry a bit and alluding to the ongoing political situation in the galaxy in light of the events of the Pilot episode.
5) Why (as said above, the idea was to round out Albrecht and make her more "solid"; she is definately a heroine, but not one that's whiter than white, has made some wrong and perhaps dubious choices in her past and has had to live with those decisions)
6) When (right at the beginning of the Odyssey's first operational mission, so we can see a little more of the universe as it unfolds and get a glimpse at how she operates in her normal routine, which can then be "taken as read" for most future episodes. It also allows us time to reacquaint ourselves with the central characters before the season gets fully underway).

Ok, with the reasoning outlined a bit, and the bare bones in place, we move on to the actual fleshing out of the plot... which comes in Part Three ;)

Monday, 9 March 2009

Captain's Blog 09.03.09

The Anatomy of an Episode - Part One

Ok, as a kind of experiment (and also a good indicator to anyone I can eventually entice into writing for Odyssey :P), I thought I'd start this "mini-series" of blogs about my own writing (and shooting) process, in the hope that it's useful to those of you who shoot and write yourselves, to see how someone else's "creative process" works.

It might sound a little disjointed, as there are plot points I want to avoid giving away in the interim, but I thought it was worth a shot.

Blog One: The Idea

Ok, so as I've mentioned on the show a coupla times, I have a plan for at least the next two seasons of episodes already laid out, in very rough sketch format. This plan consists of a few pages of Word doc, liberally broken down into synopses under provisional title headings. Titles are something I think people struggle with; sometimes they come slam-bang out of the blue, other times they need long and careful thought, and in the case of Odyssey, I try to make the title fit the episode as much as possible (even if the meaning is a little obscure to begin with).

So, with that in mind, let's look at Episode Six, the next one on my "writing block". This has been slated as a Leyland-focus episode since Day One (as all the other main characters in the ensemble get a spotlight episode this season; Albrecht in Ep1, Nolan in Ep2, Harper in Ep3, Frost in Ep4, M'raal and to an extent Cross in Ep5, and this one is Joseph's chance to stretch his acting wings a tad ;)). As such, it needs to be an episode that examines certain aspects of his character, maybe challenges some of his beliefs, and gives him both a mental/psychological conflict to resolve, as well as a more material one.

So, for character development, what are we looking at here? Well, Leyland has been broad-stroke painted as somewhat of a dull, by-the-book guy upto now. He commands the fighter wing attached to Odyssey (as shown in Ep2), and fulfils the role of Second Officer in the command hierarchy. Slow to anger, slow to joke but fast to complain about a rules infraction, Leyland needs to change a little to adjust to life aboard the Odyssey (a most unusual command crew isn't likely to be seen elsewhere in the Fleet. Ryan has handpicked the crew for a reason... which we may or may not discover directly, over the course of the developing series...), and he has picked the stiff-necked Leyland as well, for a reason.

So, the first two elements are in place; we have a broad idea of the kind of guy Leyland is (already having been set up by the Finale and the preceeding episodes), and the fact we need to make him grow as a person during the course of the show, so we can understand him more.

Eager to avoid the old "estranged father" concept (and having already used it to a degree in Ep3), as well as trying to side-step the old trope of having the character's parents distant, dead or so far away they don't appear, I decided to bring them to the forefront in this episode rather than falling into the stereotype trap. So, Leyland has a happy family; does he see them regularly? Maybe. Is his father proud of what his son has achieved? Probably (as we've already had one strained family situation brought about by unreasonable expectations this season :P).

Brothers or sisters? Maybe an older sister, I feel (breaks out of the usual mode of competing mail siblings). Will she appear in this episode? Who knows; the idea and concept might well be used purely to push the story forward at some point.

So, what's the story about? Well, it's a questioning of Alliance Command's distrust of the growing political and sectarian power the United Church has begun to demonstrate. They don't trust something that looks almost too good to be true. But what's really going on behind closed doors?

Well, that's the subject of Part Two, coming tomorrow... stay tuned for more :)