Monday 29 September 2008

The wheels on the bus

Dave's been playing with vehicles.

OK, it's not a bus. It's a mini. Well spotted.

The wheels go round and round, and they turn with the car. The car even banks as it goes round corners. And it's dead easy to control. Plonk the car down where you want it, move the timeline to when you want the next waypoint to be, and drag the car there, then hey presto, it vrooms along nicely. (Well, it'll vroom when we add in the sound effects. Till then you'll have to make your own vroomy noises, or grab freebies off the Net.)

We've exaggerated the banking on this clip slightly so that it looks more cinematic. When we were designing this feature, we opted not to go for "realistic" game physics or actual car physics modelling. The idea is to make the vehicles look good on the screen, not make them fun/challenging to drive, or behave like real cars. As a film director I want to choose how a car behaves, and in RealFilm, I'd spend money modifying a car's suspension to get the effect I was after. So, when we've finished writing it, you'll be able to control the behaviour and make them corner perfectly smoothly or career around wildly, regardless of their actual speed, just by playing with a slider.

What's that? You want to know the release date? Oh, come on, you should know me better than that by now!

Viva la Revolucion!

We'd suspected all along that David Bailey wasn't just your everyday CEO. Now we have the proof. Spotted in a bar at the Film Festival last week with other so-called "artistic" types, his true colours are finally revealed.

Whaddya say - is this the new Che?

Friday 19 September 2008

The Sound of... Progress!

After implementing the audio for the Base pack (along with the Bedroom Blog, Stand Up and Song Contest packs), I turned my attention to the rest of the currently available content packs, and those that are forthcoming (Yes, the Crime pack). He's a look at what's coming up:
  • Footstep audio for metal and gravel surfaces (For the Sci-Fi pack)
  • Audio for the Sci-Fi doors, and the Saucer and Shuttle.
  • Various firing noises for guns in the Crime pack (And the two Sci-Fi guns)
  • Sound effects for several more chair types (And support for playing foley on chairs, something that was missing from Release 1.0)
I'll also be tidying up the previous sounds; I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds the constant coughing to be annoying, especially as it's always the female cough!

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

We're looking for some native German speakers to help us out with testing the translated version of Moviestorm some time in the next couple of weeks. Our translators are good, but they're not film-makers, so we want to be sure everything's just right.

If you'd be willing to help out, please email John O'Boyle at joboyle [at] moviestorm [dot] co [dot] uk


Friday 12 September 2008

Wind in the Willows

Here's a little something for you that we didn't mention in the sneak peeks earlier this week, mainly because Dave didn't tell us he was doing it until last night.

Yep, they're swaying in the breeze. Not much, but just enough to stop them looking like plastic models.

Pretty, isn't it?

Thursday 11 September 2008

The forbidden love of one man for his microphone

If you've been using Moviestorm for any length of time, you'll have begun to realise that there's a lot of functionality there. Teaching people how to use Moviestorm fully and effectively is a difficult job. Unfortunately, it's also my job. It's made even harder by the fact that, no sooner have I finished a bit of documentation or a video tutorial than the blasted dev team selfishly releases a new update to Moviestorm with lots of extra whizzy bits and improvements, and I have to start all over again.

Nonetheless, I proceed undeterred. I've just put the finishing touches to a brand new (and up-to-date) set of video tutorials. They'll be going live on the moviestorm website any day now, and they'll replace the existing tutorials. As well as the four tutorials we had before ('Moving Around', 'Giving Instructions', 'Creating Characters' and 'Changing Your Set'), I've also managed to squeeze in a fifth - an introduction to the camerawork system. Each tutorial is between 5 and 10 minutes long, and designed to give you the basics of Moviestorm as quickly and simply as possible.

I've been using Camtasia Studio to produce these videos, and I've been very impressed with the package. Although it's practically unusable on anything but the beefiest powerhouse of a machine, it has a lot of incredibly useful options for video tutorials and the like. I'm also loving - and I do mean that in a slightly obsessive, scaring-your-friends-and-family kind of way - my Samson CO1U USB condenser microphone. Technically, it's Short Fuze's property, but if anyone tries to take it back, they'll have to get through me. I'm prepared to defend my precious mic with physical violence if needs be. I use Skype for voice chats fairly regularly. Since I've started using the CO1U, every single conversation now starts with the phrase "Wow, the audio quality is crystal clear - what mic are you using?".

Creating these tutorials is quite an involved process. As well as having to constantly work to tone down my usually gravel-strewn North-of-England accent, I also have to deal with the fact that sometimes I simply forget how to speak [1]:

Once the script has been written and the screen recording done, I edit the video down to the shortest length I can make it, and then add in all the overlays that show mouse button presses, screen highlights and zoom and pan. Finally, I tag the video with bookmarks at suitable points and then render it out as a streaming Flash video.

Somehow, despite my best efforts, QA always manage to get hold of these vids before they make it to the website. I live in fear of Ben_S wandering over to my desk and muttering, "Johnnie, that last video tutorial you recorded ... are you aware that you didn't mention [insert crucial bit of information]?".When that happens, there's nothing for it but to dry my tears, release Ben_S from the headlock, and re-record.

It's usually around this time that the next version of Moviestorm is released.

[1] Listen carefully at the end and you'll hear another thing that forced me to retake - the Squeakiest Chair In The Universe.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Obamastorm and John McMovie

From our little island hide-away off the coast of Europe, we're watching with interest as our American brethren choose the next Leader Of The Free World, and we figured you'd like to be able to express your views through movies, whether serious or satirical, Republican or Democrat. This isn't as sneaky a peek as the other things I mentioned yesterday: we've already pre-released the Election pack to our pioneers, and we've put the first test movie out on YouTube and elsewhere.

The pack includes Obama and McCain (obviously), plus a load of useful props and set items: a 3D map of the US, lecterns, a debate stage floor, stage curtains, banners and flags, a press chair, dollar bills, an oil pump, and various logos and seals.

Of course, although we're called it an "election pack" right now (because it's topical and helps our Google rankings), it'll still be useful afterwards for all your vituperative political blogging needs. You'll have the President (well, unless by some miracle Ralph Nader wins, of course!) and some useful locations, and who knows, maybe the loser will go on to become a respected figure in the scientific community and win an Oscar for a documentary?

Release date: when QA say it's good to go!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Sneak peek at some sneak peeks

It's been a while...

So we've cleared away the tumbleweeds from Moviestorm Mansions, rounded up our minions from where they were hiding, and interrogated them about what they've been doing for the last six weeks. Turns out they haven't all been sitting on the beach sipping pina coladas after all. They've actually been doing stuff.
  • The art team have gone and built a US election pack which will be released imminently - see the first test movie here
  • Julian has been prepping the codebase for multi-lingual support
  • Mark's been making people walk up and down stairs
  • Dave's been playing with cars and screen-spaced ambient occlusion (as seen in Far Cry 2)
  • Synnah has been working on new sounds
  • Johnnie's made a whole bunch of tutorial videos, which will be out any time now
  • Lisa and Ben have added some funky new features to the Web site which you should see in a week or so
Stay tuned for more detailed info on these during the week.

And me? I've been swanning round the place promoting Moviestorm, organising a film festival, and shooting test movies. And sitting on the beach sipping pina coladas. Well, someone had to...