Thursday, September 30, 2010

Behind the Scenes Look at Collaboration Process for Machinima Creation

Night is putting the finishing touches on our upcoming machinima series, "Night and Day". It's the most ambitious virtual project I've worked on to date and involved close collaboration from the initial story discussions through final editing. Although you'll have to wait until Monday to see the first episode, I thought it would be interesting to share some of what went on behind the scenes in its creation including the tools we've been using to collaborate.

Night and I had enjoyed working on the Night vs Human comic together a couple of years ago and were looking for a new concept worth pursuing. The idea for "Night and Day" was born in a series of GTalk chats that Night transformed into a draft script using Google Docs. We worked together to fine tune the script through additional chats and edits and eventually decided on an old fashioned episodic cliff-hanger format.

Scheduling is almost always an issue in collaborations outside one's day job, so the use of cloud-based document sharing and ad hoc chat allowed us to move forward through small windows of time. After a couple weeks of preparation, Night had finalized the shooting script and a shot list. Our first virtual location shoot was in Second Life on sets we assembled for the project. It concentrated on the two scenes for the first episode. Night is the primary cameraperson and editor for this project and worked very hard shooting while I lounged and enjoyed a few cocktails.

Night assembled a rough cut which she uploaded to the cloud-based Dropbox service, which is the primary vehicle we use to share large files. She recorded her voice track and uploaded it to Dropbox, so that I could review it and make sure that Botgirl's takes matched well. I uploaded the tracks I recorded and Night created an audio mix including sound effects. She then uploaded a rough cut of the video including audio, which I used to create the musical soundtrack.

While Night was shooting the LOTRO segments and editing the primary video, I was working on the opening identity segment we'd use for all of the episodes. We both used Apple's Final Cut Pro Suite for video and audio editing, which made it easier to share the video and audio files that would be integrated to create the final product.

Here's a visual representation of our collaboration universe:

We plan to release the first episode on Monday. Stay tuned for details.

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