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So who's a Myndflame fan? Blizzard, for starters. "How can something so familiar feel so foreign?" Blizzard asks rhetorically in a news update on its main site about the Illegal Danish III Prelude. "... If you're a World of Warcraft player who feels something is missing from the StarCraft universe, the creators of the Illegal Danish series have sensed your internal disturbance, bringing you a hilariously off-kilter redux of the StarCraft II cinematic trailer, now with 100% more Gnome action. It's about time!"
We thought it was about time, too, to go behind the scenes with Hackleman and get the story behind Myndflame's blazing success.
Main characterRasi Server Mannoroth Playstyle A vanilla WoW hardcore player and Eastern Plaguelands ganker convert to occasional nights and weekends, with terrible gear and too many alts
15 Minutes of Fame: You've built such a name for Myndflame that we really need to start at the beginning. How did you get into creating machinima? Clint Hackleman: Generations ago (in 2005), my brother created a little known machinima titled Zinwrath: A Story that ended with a side-by-side comparison of Zinwrath dancing with John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. After reaching more than 20,000 viewers, I stepped in and said, "We should add real voices and original music!" We then proceeded to create our first-ever joint video production, Zinwrath: The Movie, which reached about 250,000 viewers before winning the first BlizzCon movie contest in 2005. After that we were hooked.
We understand this is a full-time endeavor for you. How did that come about? Where does the money come from – sales, sponsorships ...? In 2006, I sabotaged a perfectly good career as an information technology consultant to spend more time on music and video production. Although it was a financial suicide at the time, my experience in technology contributed to building our first web site and quickly establishing a very horrible e-commerce section (which to this day, I am still surprised people actually purchased stuff on). Besides music sales, we've been open to commercial projects and corporate sponsors, as long as they don't make ridiculous suggestions ... like creating a machinima inside a McDonald's restaurant.
How many people are on the Myndflame team? D.W. and I (Clint) are the notorious Hackleman brothers and account for all the full-time work. Ben Bullock (Kiljoy), Kris Haughey (Basutei), Kevin Haughey (Brother Munson) and Amanda Peters (Rasi), have all had recurring voice parts in our videos, also contributing ideas during production.
What do you find to be the most enjoyable aspect of your work? Shouting unreasonable editing demands at D.W. is always enjoyable. "You have 24 hours to cut 10 minutes of jaw-dropping visual effects. GO GO GO!" As a reward, several times a year he's allowed to bathe in sunlight for several minutes.
But there's something especially rewarding in the days following the release of a new video when we can relax and see what the community thinks of our latest catastrophe.
Tell us a little bit about your Blizzard and Machinima Law Guide that you produced earlier this year. What's been the reaction to that? Any response from Blizzard itself? Publishers on the internet aren't always thinking of what laws they're breaking when creating content. As some publishers have learned, these silly copyright and intellectual property laws aren't so silly when it's your own property being plagiarized and exploited! It's good practice to play by the rules, especially if you're thinking about a future in entertainment where playing by the rules bears little exception.
After attending Stanford's Play Machinima Law conference, I was inspired to help define and encourage acceptable guidelines for creating machinima using World of Warcraft, because there's a very limited amount of information out there. I brought questions to Blizzard's attorneys and enjoyed several conversations with them - even if I didn't always get the answers I'd hoped for! I received several positive responses from Blizzard after publishing my discussion on the Machinima Fair Use Guide, one stating that they felt it accurately described what Blizzard was setting out to do when the guide was created.
And by the way, they're fans, too!
What of your machinima creations are you most proud of? I was very proud of Illegal Danish: Super Snacks because it was far more advanced than anything we had attempted before. Combined, we worked thousands of hours under an enormous amount of stress with no money, no heat, and for no purpose other than for our own personal achievement. Its success provided the inspiration we needed to keep producing movies and seek out ways to support the bare essentials (like pizza rolls and Mountain Dew).
How long is the typical Myndflame machinima in creation? Short videos like Epic Flight Form and Learn 2 Play took about four weeks to complete, with the shortest production being A Hallow's End Special with only 13 days from script to publication. Longer and more complicated productions like Super Snacks, Escape from Orgrimmar and our most recent Illegal Danish 3 Prelude ranged from three to five months. We regularly take time to educate ourselves by reading books and tutorials that help us to understand new techniques and give us a better understanding of planning and production.
Can you tell us briefly about the equipment and software you use? We've come a long way, starting with gear that too often was held together with duct tape and estranged computer parts. Today, I use a Quad Core 2.4ghz with 8GBs of RAM, an Echo Layla 3G sound card and an assortment of dynamic and condenser mics for music and audio production. D.W. has recently upgraded to a new i7 Quad Core with tri-channel RAM and several terabytes of hard drive space for video editing. For software, I use Cubase 5 for all audio and music production, while D.W. relies on Adobe Premiere and After Effects CS4 for video production.
You're also a musician. Can you tell us more about your musical background, style and projects? I started composing out of my bedroom on an old Casio from a clearance rack in 1993, after spending several years beating drums in the school band. Composing had always been a hobby until 2006, when I published my first online album and sold several thousand copies, inspiring me to utilize our movies as a promotional tool for my compositions. I spend most of my time writing mid- and up-tempo tracks like Club Thrall as well as working on the scores and themes heard in our movies.
Where do you see Myndflame Multimedia leading? What projects do you envision yourself working on in one year ... five years ... 10? There's no doubt that machinima is an evolving platform that we'll be producing for years to come, but the reality is that we're also very interested in launching a series that we own entirely. We've been looking at alternatives, if the day never comes that we're able to secure commercial rights to our machinima. Either way, we'd like to open small studio here in the Midwest and remain involved in the machinima community.