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Machinima as Multimodal Digital Storytelling
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Machinima as Multimodal Digital Storytelling


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    • 1. Machinima – Multimodal Digital Storytelling Angela Thomas, 2007 [email_address] or… what do a Harvard Law Professor and 11 year old Laura have in common?
    • 2. 3D Animations: Frontier Technologies
    • 3. Machinima: machine cinema
      • “ the convergence of filmmaking, animation and game development… [it] is real-world filmmaking techniques applied within an interactive virtual space where characters and events can be either controlled by humans, scripts or artificial intelligence”. (Paul Marino, Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences, 2002-2003, online).
    • 4. Younger kids are using machinima to create their own experimental narratives
      • “ I was a teenage machinima maker”
      • Once I discovered machinima, it became so much more exciting for me to create my own characters and stories than to simply play the game within the confines of the designer's original creative vision. Now I am able to mold the game to reflect my own imagination
      Harrison Heller, in the US magazine Variety on July 23rd, 2006.
    • 5.  
    • 6.  
    • 7. From Parodying Fans to Serious Business
        • To push the envelope of film making techniques using cutting edge new media technologies
        • To appeal to the youtube generation
        • To create opportunities for distance education
        • To create conversation and “buzz” (the new form of entertainment in convergence culture)
        • The Bottom Line
    • 8. Machinima Genres
      • Narrative
        • Comedy (often by fans, insiders)
      • Documentary
      • Advertising
      • Interviews
      • News Clips
      • Promotional
      • Educational
      • Blended Genre (news, promotional, interview, advertising)
    • 9. Narrative Australian Film, Television and Radio School Kacia is told by a girlfriend Faina that Sasha was seen jumping and must have surely died. She is shown a photograph of the body and cries. kacia (v.o.) Said she’d read a news item about a suicide. There was no doubt in my mind. It was Sasha.
    • 10. Comedy
    • 11. Film Noir More sophisticated blends of the real and the virtual
    • 12. Documentary
    • 13. Mainstream Media Documentaries about Virtual Worlds
    • 14. Advertising
    • 15. An Interview with Governor Warner (US politician reaching “the masses”)
    • 16. Promotional Harvard Law School
    • 17. Educational Science Teachers – tour of the solar system
    • 18. Blended Genre: Promotional / News / Interviews / Music
    • 19.  
    • 20.  
    • 21.  
    • 22.  
    • 23.  
    • 24. Child driven improvements: Kahootz as a gaming platform More sophisticated audio for film construction
    • 25.  
    • 26.  
    • 27. Kids’ Machinima using Kahootz Engine
    • 28. Technical difference
      • SL: highly sophisticated 3D gaming environment, with specialised lighting effects, water ripples, high end, high resolution pixelation, texturing potential, high modality (photo-realism)
      • Kahootz: clunky, designed for kids, much lower modality
      • SL: user-controlled camera
      • Kahootz: scripted / keyframe camera work (more control, complex shots can be developed with pinpoint accuracy)
      • (way points vs keypoints)
      • SL: 1-1 avatar/computer
      • Kahootz: group:1
      • SL: pre-programmed animations
      • Kahootz: more coding required to construct animations
    • 29. Multimodal Discourse Analysis
      • How the various semiotics (verbal, image, sound) work collaboratively to realise a coherent multimodal text (O’Halloran, 2005)
      • How the various semiotics work synergistically (Royce, 1998; Ravelli, 2000)
      • Specifically comparing the complexities of resources used by experts as opposed to kids in the unfolding of the filmic event, in order to suggest a pedagogical framework for the advancement of children’s innovative use of frontier technologies
    • 30. Specifically looking at the use of semiotic resources to construct meanings appropriate for context and text, and NOT the affordances of the software
      • Interplay of semiotic salience as the unfolding chain of events of the narrative/text weaves back and forth through modes
      • Modal complexity and modal density (Norris, 2006) – the moments which have maximum impact according to the particular texturing of the resources
      • Question: can children texture the resources to construct a modally dense and complex text?
    • 31. Comparison 1 (Narrative): Robbie Dingo’s “Better Life” Nathan Burns’s “Taken”
    • 32. Better Life Rob Wright aka Robbie Dingo Music Professor in the UK Well known Machinima maker Won several awards at machinima festivals with his work SFX: Wind sound
    • 33.
      • Accoustic guitar intro
      • Sweeps around darkened room from close up objects to desk to man working at computer
    • 34.
      • Where do you go
      • When your eyes are closin’
      • Are you really hopin’
      • For a better life
      • Acoustic guitar
      • Solo voice
      • Music described as: raw and gutsy roots/rock sound
      • Measured time
      • Monorhythmic
      • Legato (slow, dream-like) and the musical phrase has vocal silences
      • mezzoforte (moderately loud) (think: medium social distance)
    • 35.
      • What do you see
      • When you are dreamin
      • Are you really seein
      • Chain of words before
      • Included :
        • Closing eyes
        • Hoping
        • Dreaming
        • For a better life
      • So they suddenly make sense at this moment as we realise the significance of the wheelchair – the meaning is only through connecting the verbal mode with the visual here
    • 36.
      • Such a better world
      • Such a better world
      • Guitar solo
      Camera angles swinging around and around – for emphasis?
    • 37.
      • All of the time
      • That you’ve been wastin’
      • When you’ve been waitin’
    • 38.
      • For a better world
      • Better world
      • And now you don’t know
      • Where the next day will leave you
      • Will they ever believe you
      • That there’s a better life
      • Better life
    • 39.
      • Guitar solo vocal silence
      • - dramatic pause, foreshadowing the next story event
      • Close up shot for maximum contact
    • 40.
      • Music adds in synthesised keyboard replacing the vocals of the melodic line – human element gone from music, as narrative shifts from reality to fantasy, but the melodic line of the instrument imitates what the vocal line did, so we transfer the meaning across – this IS a better life
      • Crescendo of music to forte
      • Change of keys
      • Low pitch to higher pitch and back, melodic line rising and falling along with the flight patterns that are animated
      Fantasy Reality New Given Instrumental Human voice Figure Figure
    • 41.
      • Special animation feature of particle effects on the feet: magical “pixie dust” connotation
      • i.e.: we read: it’s not real, indirect affect
      • Swell to ff corresponding to a swell of emotional impact, realising the interpersonal
    • 42.
      • Rit (gradually growing slower)
      • Diminuendo (gradually growing softer)
      • Long sustained final note on the keyboard before it drops out and the melodic line ceases
      • Last quiet strumming chords
      • silence
    • 43. TAKEN Nathan Burns Grade 6, Princes Hill Primary School original poem
      • Normal day just like always
    • 44. SFX: Car tires screeching
      • Then the white man comes
      • He takes me
      • He forces me into his car
      • He hits me
      • He hits me
      • He hits me three times
    • 45.
      • All around me people scream ,
      • People cry ,
      • People pray
      • Pray for me
      • I can see his eyes
      • Cold
      • No expression
      • No feeling
      • No sympathy
      • My legs give way
      • My body surrenders
      • My eyes cry,
      • And so does my heart
    • 46.
      • He takes me away
      • Takes me away
      • Away from life
      • Away from family
      • Away from home.
    • 47.
      • I am stunned
      • and angry
      • and distressed
      • and trapped
      • A new home is here.
      • A home with food.
      • A home with shelter.
      • A home with cleanliness.
      • But not my home.
      Camera movement for a purpose: power angles
    • 48.
      • I’m confined in this malicious cage
      • Animated body writhing on bed
      • Motion of animation becomes salient, repeated lopping echoing the repetition of the text before
      • Repetition an intersemiotic cohesive device
      • Flashing floor reminded me of a migraine attack, or burning fires of hell
    • 49.
      • But No More
      • Flashing black and white animation – lights blinking on and off
      • Pan in to extreme close up / frontal angle / demand for maximum contact with viewer
      • Until the eyes are the only salient aspect of the image which is the only semiotic resource at this moment, building to and foreshadowing the next story event
    • 50.
      • I run to the waterfall
      • And the white man follows
      SFX: chirping
    • 51.
      • He took me away once
      • But not twice .
      • He hit me three times ,
      • But not four .
      • I don’t care anymore
      • I just want it to stop .
      • So I jump .
      • SFX: water
      • Repeated SFX of water
      • Splash
      • Repeated SFX of water
      Waterfall: metaphorical turbulence, foregrounding inner emotions of the boy
    • 52. It all ends . Sometimes the sudden loss of one of the semiotic resources such as the foregrounding of silence or the absence of colour acts as a powerful interpersonal device – because we are shocked into interaction and forced to fill in those gaps
    • 53. Comparison / Contrast
      • Both are richly layered and textured to realise ideational meanings
      • Both use music/SFX and then the absence of sound as an interpersonal resource
      • Texturing of visual depiction with sound effects / specialised animation effects used effectively in both
      • Both animations shot using filmic devices: sweep around, birds-eye shot, pan back, pan forward, pan up, pan down, and so on
      • Both achieve a high level of interpersonal contact – don’t they?
      • More explicit use of affect in text of poem
      • More modulation of sound used in BL
      • Textual cohesion of written words in poem is very sophisticated (repetition, collocation, synonyms) whereas the lyrical text used much less
      • Textual composition of BL composed of a larger variety of shot types, overlays and transitions
      • Structurally there are less shots per story event in Taken
      • BL uses a more sophisticated “passing the story meanings through modes” technique
    • 54. Comparison 2 (Promotional) New Media Consortium’s “Seriously Engaging” Corio South Primary School’s “Our School is Cool”
    • 55.
      • Voice Over:
      • The New Media Consortium is an international not for profit organisation of nearly 200 leading colleges, universities, museums, corporations and other learning focussed bodies dedicated to pushing the edge of new media and new technology.
      C: Hello my name is Cassandra Eaves D: Hello my name is Daniel McCullogh L: Hello my name is Laura Eaves M: Hello my name is Matthew Robbins J: Hello my name is Jessica Russell Ju:Hello my name is Justin Grovis Chorus: Welcome to our school is cool movie Music: Drums and guitar “rock” style background music Music: Synthesised keyboard and drums “techno” style background music
    • 56.
      • The campus extends the NMC experience into 3D virtual space, providing a space for insightful interaction, collaboration, learning and experimentation
      • Our school has lots of computers . There is a computer for everyone in the Grade 6 room
      Music: Drums and guitar “rock” style background music Music: Synthesised keyboard and drums “techno” style background music (techno: not human, = science and technology)
    • 57.
      • A wide range of activities are now planned for the NMC campus, from large scale virtual components of real life events like the NMC summer conference
      • This is Mr Baker’s room , and he’s got a data projector. We’ve got computers in the classroom as well.
      Music: Drums and guitar “rock” style background music Music: Synthesised keyboard and drums “techno” style background music
    • 58.  
    • 59.  
    • 60.  
    • 61. “And does what dogs do” Meaning is passed between modes, here the meaning leaves audio and is depicted in the visuals only
    • 62.
      • To learn more about the NMC’s journey into virtual space and to follow along as the project progresses, see the NMC campus observer, a blog set up to record, not only our insights, but those of other Second Life residents
      Music: No change Music and Text: Words of the school song sung by Mr Baker playing the guitar – very hip! Oh You can do it / be confident Oh You can do it / be confident Be brave and know that you are special Be confident at Corio South…. Demand, old man with walking stick dancing, medium frontal shot: cool and inviting, realises complex interpersonal meanings here NMC: Seriously engaging? Corio South: Cool School?
    • 63. Comparison / Contrast
      • Both are richly layered and textured to realise meanings
      • Both use music as a background resource
      • Texturing of visual depiction with specialised animation effects used effectively in both
      • Both animations shot using filmic devices: sweep around, birds-eye shot, pan back, pan forward, pan up, pan down, and so on
      • Both achieve their goal in terms of the promotion of experiential meanings
      • More explicit interpersonal connections made in OSIC
      • More demands, more use of personal pronouns
      • More modulation of sound used in OSIC
      • SE is a far more lexically dense and sophisticated text
      • Textual composition of SE composed of a larger variety of shot types, overlays and transitions
      • Structurally there are less shots per text event in OSIC
      • OSIC uses one example of “passing the story meanings through modes” technique
    • 64. Conclusions
      • Children are already creating richly textured multimodal texts, texts in which modal complexity and modal density is used effectively at appropriate stages for the context of the text
      • Children have an excellent understanding of film and media literacy in terms of visuals and an excellent understanding of how and when to use particular resources with the unfolding events of a text
      • Texts are of a highly sophisticated construction in terms of narrative, originality and innovation, and are well matched in semiotic resource deployment with those constructed by adults
      • children are learning the high end skills and creativity of approach that will equip them for more sophisticated platforms in the future and for innovation with the frontier technology of tomorrow.