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September 2010, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 2 Sep 2010 02:37:01 -0700
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Hi all 

I hope it's not too late to continue this thread, and my apologies for this tardy reply... the summer plans were pretty full on! As it is, I am rushing this out at the airport so I do apologise for any awkward grammar, sentences..... 

Machinima is a fascinating topic, and you're right in that there is relatively little critical material on it, which is a huge pity! I think some of the neglect might be due to it falling in the cracks between games and cinema but, to me at least, that is certainly part of its appeal and charm. 

There is still some good work out, though - notably Henry Lowood's various excellent
 articles, such as "High-Performance Play" (Journal of Media Practice Volume 7 Number 1 2006 - also other articles in the same issue, such as Rebecca Cannon's "Meltdown"), "Real-Time Performance" (The International Digital Media and Arts Association Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2006) and "Found Technology" in
 Digital Youth, Innovation and the Unexpected (Tara McPherson ed). He also has an anthology out, hopefully soon, with Michael Nitsche, which I am looking forward to as well. And then there's also Carroll
and Cameron's Machinima: digital performance and
emergent authorship (2005). 

Other great work I've found include "New Media Resistance", by Elijah Horwatt (Cineaction 73/74 2008) and Martin Picard's paper, "Machinima" (Proceedings of CGSA 2006 Symposium). Various newspaper articles have also been helpful, such as NYT's "Computer Games as the Tools for Digital Filmmakers", "The Face That Launched A Thousand Chips", and "The Xbox Auteurs"; and Wired's "Machinima: Games Act Like Films". 

Finally, we at HUMlab are also working quite a bit on machinima. Some of our initiatives: † 

1) I and my colleague are putting together a collection of essays on machinima - I think that might be the CFP which you first came across (!), which can be found here - http://blog.hum 629 or - and you are very welcome to contribute! The deadline (31 Aug) is technically over but we have received a pleasantly surprising amount of interest and are so extending it for another 2 weeks or so, so please feel free to submit a proposal. 

2) Another HUMlab colleague had put together an exhibition of machinima work in the lab and in his gallery - for your reference: (English); (Swedish). 

3) Jeffrey Bardzell, Asst Prof of HCI/Design and New Media, School of Informatics, Indiana University, visited the lab earlier this year and gave a great seminar on realism and
 machinima. The seminar, as with all seminars in HUMlab, is recorded and archived, and can be found here -† dex.php. The link has been a bit buggy lately and our technicians are working on it, so please be patient if it doesn't run the first time..... 

4) Bryan Carter, Assoc Prof of English at Central Missouri State University, had also previously visited the lab and has a lot of interest in machinima. He has put together for this semester a Digital Culture course which includes students making machinima projects, and has described and spoken about it to me at some length - it sounds fantastic and he is certainly someone to speak to should you be thinking along those lines. 

5) Finally, I gave a seminar on machinima as well at Monash University in July this year - see - which was recorded; the podcast might also be available on the website of the Research Unit in Film Culture and Theory's "Under Constructions" seminar series. 

I will also be giving a lecture on machinima at the University of Shanghai in 2 weeks' time and can give you a link to that as well if you are interested. 

All in all, I, like you, really do hope to see more work and dialogue out there on machinima. The response to our CFP has been very good and the proposals superb, so that is encouraging. Here's to more! 


Jenna Pei-Suin Ng, LLB, MA, PGDip, PhD
Research Fellow 
HUMlab / Department of Culture and 
UmeŚ University
901 87, UmeŚ, Sweden

--- On Thu, 7/15/10, [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [SCREEN-L] Critical articles on machinima?
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Thursday, July 15, 2010, 5:01 PM

hello all!

Earlier this year I saw a call for papers on machinima, but I can't access it since our server "migrated" to a new one at the University of Rochester. I can't remember the name of the scholar who is editing this volume either. That would be a book needed desperately! 

Since I'm studying machinima, am slated to teach it as a film course and I'm making some
 of my own, I wonder if any
 of you know of good critical articles in print or on-line that discuss the development and aesthetics of machinima.† It's very hard to find anything that addresses this--hence the need for the volume--and when the cfp came out I was too new to the field. I've found a few on-line pages that discribe its origins in the Quake films and gaming but nothing terribly substantial, much less anything that addresses contemporary art films like Bryn Oh's stunning work: I have Kelland's Machinima: Making Animated movies in 3 Virtual Environments by Kelland et al, which has a practical history (with lots of photos) devoted to mainstream readers. I'm going to order that for my students, but it was written in 2005 when Second Life (a huge source of recent machinima) was barely getting started.† Secrets of Digital Animation by Steven Withrow has five pages devoted to it and, s!
 hockingly, Burgess and Green's 2009 book on YouTube doesn't mention it at
 all.† Most of the material I've found offers "how to" information.† Perhaps this is terra incognita, and the class will obviously be informed by studies of YouTube and its trends, participatory media and culture, amateur film-making and so forth, all of which I would welcome advice about, too.† I've got Jenkin's Convergence Culture which devotes another five pages to machinima (in the margins!), but is a goldmine about other New Media developments.

Anybody out there teaching this?

Thanks in advance,
Sarah Higley
Professor of English
The University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627
shigley dot z dot rochester dot edu

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