Machinima Magic using Moviestorm, Final Cut, and Photoshop

For those who have been wondering about the hiatus here at the New Music Resource, wonder no more! The past six months I have been working on a sci-fi machinima musical Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. Created almost entirely in the machinima software platform Moviestorm and scored with a catchy combo of electronic music, film scores, and dramatic vocals, Libertaria has been an incredible collaborative project.

Moviestorm has been an excellent and inexpensive way to create an entire epic sci-fi tale for a minimal amount of resources. Almost three years ago I started using Moviestorm for a variety of video projects, and then decided to make an entire feature length musical using only machinima. The project proved challenging, involved a couple of dozen singers, animators, and other artistic professionals volunteering their talent and resources to create an incredible feature.

Watch a the lo-res version of the song Pilar of the Underground from Libertaria: The Virtual Opera:  

What I enjoy about Moviestorm is that it is cost-effective, simple, and easy to use. The downside is that I have to rely on a lot of third-party mods because there are limited packs available with the program. There are options for modding galore, and I do some limited modding using textures created in DAZ's Bryce program. Fortunately there are some incredible modders at Moviestorm. For Libertaria, I mostly used original mods made by Two Moon Graphics and additional animations and sets from Mods N More. There is a complete list of third party Moviestorm mods here:

I use the machinima program in conjunction with Final Cut, Bryce, and Photoshop to combine shots and do special effects not available in the program. For example in the shot below, I took a  screenshot of the character's hand and shot of the medallion and combined it in Photoshop. I imported the image into Final Cut and created a glowing animated sensor using the Overdrive effect and some strategic movements to make it seem as if the necklace emits a glowing orb.

final cut
Compositing Moviestorm Shots in Photoshop and Final Cut.

In this shot I created a nice overlay of two shots recorded in Moviestorm. As the characters sing, the male character (Simeon) in the background spreads out his arms, his shadow creating a Christ-like outline around Lucinde, the antagonist in Libertaria. 

Simple Overlay of Moviestorm Characters in Libertaria  

And in this shot, the main character Libertaria (holding the baby on the right) sings a duet with Lucinde. This shot was created by overlaying two shots in Moviestorm. An 8 point garbage mask was added to the top shot (with Libertaria) and then feathered to allow the two shots to work in conjunction, but still allow the baby to be seen.

Complex Compositing in Final Cut

Creepy Mad Scientist Against Yellow in the Finale
To create the overall "look" for Libertaria, which imitates the graphic novel style, I used the cel-shading option in Lighting in Moviestorm. I also used a very limited color palette: bright red, dark red, royal blue, light blue, white, black, grays. Colors like yellow are saved for battles scenes and the final scene. Black is used a lot, especially in the background. I wanted to create the same look used in 300, Sin City, or even many of Tim Burton's flicks. Cliche', well, maybe, but I really liked how it all worked together.

Check out the Libertaria Motion Picture Soundtrack at CD Baby!

The color scheme followed a certain pattern. The genetics Factory, for example, represents technology and a post-nuclear mostly sterile world. The colors are white, grays, and varying shades of blue. In the Underground, where technology has been abandoned because of its intrusive nature, the colors are earthen browns mixed with black and some yellows, contrasting sharply with the overall color scheme aboveground. In addition, I added a subtle vignette, which blurs the shadows of the underground and helps the audience authentically feel that they, too, are buried below the city. The contrast, I hope, is palpable. You can compare the two styles in the images below. One is from Invasion where the Genetics Military Police attack the Underground militia (the male character in the foreground is a puppet based on my sweetie, who really REALLY wanted to be in the movie and be an action hero!) The image below is from the Factory.
Character Runs from Explosion Underground

The Genetics Factory created in Moviestorm

I have a week to finish the complete animated feature. There is one scene left to animate, three scenes to edit down, and entire movie to subtitle. Keeping with the comic book feel, I am using a comic book font for the subtitles as opposed to the regular subtitles you might find in a foreign film or modern opera. More on the machinima production end of Libertaria soon! 

Sabrina Pena Young
Award-winning composer Sabrina Peña Young enjoys long walks on the beach, blowing up buildings virtually, and watching retro sci-fi flicks with her sneaker-eating puppy Sandy. Liberaria: The Virtual Opera is her latest creative endeavor, a feature-length animated machinima music about a young teen who escapes from a Genetics Factory and pairs up with her addict father to blow up her evil overlords! The Libertaria Motion Picture Soundtrack is now available at CD Baby.

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