Thursday, April 19, 2007

Red vs. Blue and Machinima

I was very lucky to have two impressive speakers visit with my Graduate Multimedia Design class on Wed night. Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth Productions and Paul Marino of the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences discussed the merging of video games and cinema into a new form of media called machinima (machines and cinema). Burns' company is responsible for Red vs. Blue, an episodic Web series that uses the Halo interface for its stage and characters. They have also created promotional videos for Microsoft and others using the Red vs. Blue characters. Recently, they have added The Strangerhood, a Web sitcom using SIMS characters. Their niche is funny and current dialogue over the video game interface.

This was a fascinating session. Students got the chance to hear from someone who has taken their passion and parlayed it into an interesting and non-traditional career. Grad student, Taylor Kuhlmann asked Burns about the Rooster Teeth business model, which he said, was not advertising based, but was supported by merchandise sales and their promotional activities for corporate sponsors.

Another student, Jordan Viator, asked about the potential for copyright infringement in using games for film development. "We got lucky," said Burns. "By Episode 3, Microsoft was calling us. They just happened to like what we were doing." Marino explained that most game companies prohibit machinima and modding (modifying games to users' own specifications) in their user licences, but they are rarely enforced, as game companies realize that importance of developing a community of users that feel connected to their games and platforms.

On the community side, Burns showed the Community section of the Rooster Teeth site, with almost 600,000 registered users. Users can create profiles, much like MySpace, but they do so in a community of users that are interested in his productions. This seems to be the direction that ALL companies are heading now, but Rooster Teeth is way ahead of the masses in this regard.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Symposium Photos

Anna Tauzin, a student in my Web Design and Production class this semester, attended the symposium and kindly shared these photos. Thanks, Anna!

Dean Betz, Online Editor, Houston Chronicle

Lisa Stone of BlogHer

Guy Berger, Professor, Rhodes University, South Africa