Machinima's a pretty big topic. Depending on who you talk to, "machinima" could include story-based movies, PvP footage, boss kills, music videos, and even videography of altered in-game landscapes. There are uncounted thousands of videos about World of Warcraft roaming the internet, so it can be very difficult to know where to start.
In honor of the ticket queue for BlizzCon 2009, Moviewatch presents seven machinima movies and machinimators you should know. Certainly, these aren't the only 7 movies or authors you should know, but they do include some of the most popular staples of the art. If you find yourself chatting it up with a machinima enthusiast around the BlizzCon water cooler, you can probably be certain they've seen these shows.
We went for variety in this selection, choosing videos with different styles and subjects. They certainly aren't listed in "countdown to the best" format, since trying to rate these videos like that would be dang near impossible. Instead, they are simply listed alphabetically, according to the creator of the movie.
Baron Soosdon is something of a legend in these circles. His stylized and unique vision for his videos lends all of his work a very distinct flavor. With a flair for finding subtle, rhythmic music to accentuate the action in his films, Soosdon's canon involves a wide variety of subjects. However, the good Baron is also notable for his love of gnomes. While many machinimators prefer human and Blood Elf main characters, Baron Soosdon has all but trademarked the gnome as his protagonist.
"Big Blue Dress" is one of those legendary videos that, when it was first released, seemed like every WoW player and their brother saw. At the time, I couldn't enter a battleground without hearing some mage kvetch about their "Big Blue Dress."
Unfortunately, it's been a while since Cranius's masterpiece hit the WoW-o-sphere, and it's lost a little traction. As a result, I'm pretty happy to draw a little fresh, new attention to the music video. Cranius has recently released a new video called Ulduar, performing a duet along with Summergale.
Myndflame's original Illegal Danish is the machinima that launched a thousand videos. Clint Hackleman and the intrepid Myndflame crew parlayed their original series into a thriving, growing enterprise. The unique comedy of Illegal Danish made it an instant fan favorite, as the video explored some of the absurdities of in-game dynamics. ("Are those your healing pants?" was a repeated, favorite phrase inside many Ventrillo chats for years.)
Myndflame grew into a community, which still produces excellent videos. More importantly, the team's trying to help other machinimators get into the hobby, and advance the art to a new level.
Oxhorn is a brand unto himself, as you can see by checking out the Oxhorn Brand Medley. Oxhorn has been a mainstay of machinima for several years. His videos are something of a variety show, blending heartwarming comedy, loveable characters, and incredible songs.
With every video, Oxhorn displays a clear love and understanding of the World of Warcraft, but also for the players who live in it. "ROFLMAO" has long been a favorite of mine, since it exemplifies Oxhorn's warm and friendly style.
You might have heard of this little animation called BLIND. To this very day, we still get excited tips from viewers telling us about Percula's video. While we've covered it three or four times, the continued enthusiasm for the video reinforces what an amazing movie Percula created. Anyone who plays World of Warcraft will enjoy this video. Every time I re-watch this video with my beloved fiancee, we both comment again that if Percula's video was a weekly series, we'd definitely make time in our schedule to watch it.
"Edge of Remorse" was released in 2006, and remains an exceptional film in the field of machinima. While the World of Warcraft is a mere backdrop for the story, that highlights how powerful and effective the story actually is. This is visual storytelling at its finest. There are no words or dialogue anywhere in the video, but the action and emotion is apparent. This is especially notable since variable facial expressions weren't common in WoW videos in 2006. The author had to rely on clever angles and intelligent framing to convey the action.
When asked about narrative structure, character development, and a fully developed plot, you can simply point to Selserene's noir epic series, "In For A Penny." The IFAP series started with a Prologue, and is now up to two episodes. There's certainly a time investment to watch it all, but every second's worth it. Selserene's characters are believable and convincing, as is the careful pacing and methodical development of her plot. IFAP is an incredible feat of storytelling, and should not be missed by any fan of machinima.
Of course, discussing only seven machinimators when talking about the machinima community leaves us with several obvious holes. We didn't even start talking about Nyhm, Ninth Batter, Red Eye, Gigi, or any of the other dozens of people who help shape our moviewatching experience. My apologies to folks whom I might not have mentioned here; we're just trying to get reveal the very tip of the iceberg. Good luck in the queue, folks.