Interview: Matt Kelland, Founder of Moviestorm

Matt Kelland is the one of the two founders of Moviestorm, the new application to make animation movies that gives you instant access to a big gallery of all that you need to make complex and rich films. In addition, Moviestorm also provides tools for machinima directors that make easier things like voice recording and lip synchronization.

Instead of having to wander into a virtual worlds searching for something that fits with your story, Moviestorm provides you with all that, so you can make the movie of your dreams now.

In this interview, Matt Kelland introduces us to Moviestorm, and answers the questions that every machinima director may need to know.

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- What would you highlight as the main difference between Moviestorm and other ways to produce or record animation movies?

- Making a movie with Moviestorm is a lot like making a movie with The Sims, but with one big difference: it's not a game, it's a complete virtual movie studio. Everything in it is targeted at film-makers: the director has complete control over all the characters all the time, there's no annoying HUD to get rid of, the camera and editing systems are built in and fully integrated, and it includes features such as voice recording and automated lip sync. Most machinimators who use games or MMOs have to use tools like FRAPS or a mod to capture the video, and then assemble the film in some external video editor. Moviestorm lets you do everything right inside it, and the camera tools allow you to change lenses, change the focus, and so on. Those are features you normally only get with full animation tools, which are much more complex to use.

Unlike using a virtual world such as Second Life, making a Moviestorm movie is all scripted. This means one person can create everything, even a crowd scene. You don't need to get a lot of people together to perform a scene, and you don't need to be online.

To sum up, Moviestorm gives you the ease and affordability of making machinima with a game engine, but gives you many of the features of a powerful animation tool. You can do more with 3DS Max or Maya, of course, but they're much more expensive, take much longer to learn, and a lot slower to use.

- The contest at Koinup has proven that Moviestorm can easily be learned in a short time and start making animation movies faster than with other tools. How much would it take for the average drector to master most of the aspects of the application?

- You can learn what all the main tools do in just a few hours, and you can be making really good movies within a couple of weeks. Mastering them, however, will take years! Film-making is a hugely complex artform, involving drama, photography, lighting, sound, writing, and more. We're constantly finding new ways to use Moviestorm, and we're amazed by some of the things our users are doing with it.

- Can movie makers incorporate their own scenarios and characters inside Moviestorm? For example, a 3D model that they have made.

- We have a modder's workshop, which allows people to import models from Google Sketchup as well as sets and props. You can also retexture the costumes. We don't have a character importer yet: that's still in development.

- Do they need to adapt or animate their own model in a special way or file format?

- We use CAL3D, because it's open source.

- One usual issue in machinima production is copyright ownership. Is the director the owner of the final produced video? Are the resources offered in Moviestorm to make videos royalty-free for the users of Moviestorm?

- Yes! This was a key part of the design of Moviestorm. Whatever you make with it, you own. We already have some users who are selling their Moviestorm movies, and we fully support them.

- What do members get with a Premium account in Moviestorm?

- All members get the Moviestorm application and the Modder's workshop, which allows them to use and create third party mods. Depending on what type of membership you get, you may also get a number of free Moviestorm Points as well, which you can use to rent or buy content packs.  We have a unique content rental system: instead of paying full price to own a content pack which you may only need for one scene, you can pay 10% of that price to rent it for a month, or 1% of the price to rent it for a day. This means you're not spending money on content you don't really need, and it gives you the opportunity to try before you buy.

It's the same with Moviestorm: you can purchase it outright, or you can pay for a month or a year's membership. This makes it much more affordable to many people, as they don't have to find a large sum of money right at the start.

-Jordi R. Cardona-

© 2008 by Jordi R. Cardona. Link to this post without copying the text.

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