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Home Sims Art Machinima Featured machinima artist (Ts3): SSProduction
Featured machinima artist (Ts3): SSProduction PDF Print
Written by CriCri Friday, 14 January 2011 17:14
simsart_machinima_ssproductionWe introduced you Fienx in regards to machinima created with The Sims 2, so we cannot do anything but showing you an artist that uses The Sims 3, and we chose SSProduction.

We saw one of his videos published on Sims3Nieuws, we liked it and on his YouTube channel we discovered he has created a series, called The Emperor of Evil, which has already 25 episodes! We interviewed him for you...read more to see what he told us, especially if you're looking for advices on dubbing your videos!

First off, tell us something about you..

I'm just an ordinary guy who aspires to become a writer. I focus mainly on supernatural horror, so my work can be very dark at times, but I also try to add occasional humor, albeit fairly twisted and quirky. I'm also into composing music, audio engineering, and voice acting. I'm currently a student, and college can be manic, so working on projects can be difficult at times, but immense fun. I need some kind of creative outlet, and making machinima accomplishes this on
several levels.

simsart_machinima_ssproduction_ep17-1How and when did your passion for machinima start?

My passion for machinima started in June 2009 when I discovered how much fun TS3 could be, especially for creating movies. I've always enjoyed writing, especially horror, I began writing at an early age. I never imagined I'd get to see my ideas, characters and plotlines actually materialize visually. It's awesome seeing them come to life on the screen. My ambition is to become an author or director. That would be awesome.

On your channel we can find only video created with The Sims 3? What about The Sims 2, have you ever tried it?

I've never played Sims 2 and was only introduced into the Sims world after watching a friend play TS3. I admit, I'm more of a first/third person shooter kinda gamer, but when I saw TS3 I thought the game engine would make an awesome tool for creating movies. Sets and characters are comparatively quick and easy to make and there is quite a lot of creative control. I've always wanted to try directing a movie so I decided to get the game and the rest is history.

Most of your videos are about "The Emperor of Evil" series and there are 25 episodes plus extra! We should ask you, how is this idea born
and how does the idea of a new episode start?

The Emperor of Evil was originally going to be a novel but I wanted to try making it visual, and learn about directing. I've never written scripts before, just stories, so I had to experiment and discover the best way to get the story across in a series rather than a book. In a book a character's thoughts can easily be portrayed to the reader. In a script it's more difficult. Although I had the general premise for the series planned in my head from the start, I don't tend to think too far ahead. I have so many ideas for Emperor of Evil that the show could end up running for quite a while. I tend to leave my ideas open for flexibility, although the general story arc is planned. Sub plots and minor characters often come to mind during the actual writing process or shortly before. The whole series is not planned out to the end in intricate detail like many writers. Ideas often materialize at the strangest times. Inspiration is unpredictable. I sometimes have ideas just before trying to sleep, then I'm compelled to get up and make a note of them. Consequently, I don't get much sleep lol.

We know how long it may take to create high-quality machinima like yours so, can you tell us how much time do you need to make and edit
your videos?

It takes quite a while to make an episode although I have a fairly quick release schedule. When I work on a project I become intensely focused on it. I've been known to do several all nighters while working on an episode. I don't get a lot of free time so it's the only feasible way I can work to my own schedule. The time it takes for an episode to be made depends upon what is involved for the episode. If I need to build new sets or test out new visual effects it takes longer.

simsart_machinima_ssproduction_ep17-2What you can tell us about dubbing? How do you prepare dialogues and characters' voices?
Is there an EP and/or a mod you cannot make video without?

I have experience with audio engineering (I'm a musician) so working with voices isn't too difficult for me. The procedure I use is to record the voices before filming. I then spend a day or two processing the audio files, cutting out any bloopers and selecting the best takes. Both my co-actor and I do all the voices for the series. We do at least 3 takes for each line. Once this is done the files need further processing, such as noise reduction if required, or pitch shifting and other processing. Working with the audio takes almost as long as filming. I then import the audio into Sony Vegas and line it all up on an audio track so the dialog flows naturally. I then add the music soundtrack to a separate audio track and balance the levels so the voices are clearly heard above the music. Finally I film the scenes then add the footage to the video tracks, synchronizing this to the voices as best as I can.

A mod I can't do without is one which allows animations to be triggered on demand, or skills to be immediately set. Awesomemod and Nrass Debug Enabler both do this and have many options to trigger various things, which makes filming faster. Without these type of mods it would take way too long to film.

Every director has his own secrets - and we don't want you to reveal yours - but, can you give some advice, even regarding which mods to
use, to those who are approaching machinima for the first time?

My advice is to research and experiment as much as possible, and if you're totally new to machinima to read or watch tutorials. Knowing how to remove the thought bubbles is important for filming, as is understanding what can be done with the camera. I edited the videocamera.ini file to achieve slow smooth camera motion. If something isn't quite working as planned, improvisation can help.
Experimentation is very useful - sometimes it's a success, other times it isn't, but you'll learn what works best for you. And don't be afraid to create your own unique style. Individuality is awesome. But the most important advice I can give is to have fun.

Which, among your videos, is your favourite? And which the one you like the least?

I haven't got a favorite as such, but some I prefer some to others. I tend to be hypercritical of my own work and notice all the mistakes lol. Or in retrospect I think how I could have done something better. I don't dwell on this too much though. Machinima creation is fun and there is a sense of achievement and satisfaction when an idea becomes visual. It's pure creation. My least favorite videos are the early music video trailers for the series. I had no clue what I was doing at the time lol. To be honest though, the learning process never stops.

I did made some videos and I still have in mind some scenes that I really wasn't able to do. I tried almost everything. Can you tell us a few fun facts about the making of your videos, issues you had to face (i.e. what were the hardest and the easiest scenes to shoot)?

I also have many ideas which are not possible with the game engine. I often have to improvise. Strangely, what appears as fairly straightforward scenes are the hardest to do in TS3. If I was using real human actors, getting them to walk and talk, or do any action and talk at the same time, or even certain facial expressions would be easy. In TS3 however there are huge limitations. To get around limitations I use devious camera work and editing techniques, and
often use green screening. An example of this is in episode 17. One scene involved having Alex, the main character crouching over an injured person, the museum curator who was lying on the floor. I wanted to have them speaking at the same time but because the game can't do this I had to use symbolism, green screening and devious camera work. I even green screened him crouching next to her. The easiest scenes to film are the seated dialog scenes. That's why the characters are often sitting and talking in the series.

The sims often misbehave lol. One time I recall is when I was filming during the day in a public place in France. For some reason the actors kept getting interrupted by non playable Sims. I must have deleted about 20 misbehaving NPC Sims that day lol. They just kept on interrupting the scene. Relentlessly. It's easier and preferable to film in your own lot. The characters misbehave too but that can be really cool, especially if they do something that enhances the scene.
The AI can be scary at times. It's almost as if they are sentient, it's uncanny. For instance, some characters seem to know exactly when to do the right facial expression at the right time, Bill in particular. It's awesome when they do this.

simsart_machinima_ssproduction_alexI know, we are a bit 'pushy, but this site's section was also created to encourage players to create videos by giving them some advice, would you show us a scene as example and describe how did you make it?

It's awesome you're encouraging more players to try out machinima. It's fun :) I'll describe the technique I use for filming dialog as many machinima artists may want to try using voice actors. For example, in episode 22 there is a scene set at an archaeological dig site where Alex and Isabel speak to a professor. What I do with dialog scenes is to focus on one character at a time, film them talking, then when I have enough footage I film them listening. I do this in turn
with each character, making sure I have enough footage of different talking animations at different camera angles. I then film them talking at a distance, showing all the characters in the shot. I get them to talk using the normal chat menu in the game. I also film some of the scenery too. When editing I use the footage where the character is speaking and sync it to the voice acting. I also use footage of the listener too, even though the other person is speaking. This minimizes any potential continuity errors. I also use the scenery shots I filmed as fillers, to break up the scene and make it flow better and add more interest. In the archaeological digsite scene in episode 22 I showed various parts of the digsite, as well as the other archaeologists who were working there.

You are really active in another project, so we should ask you about Simatrography and the SIFF... what would you like to tell us? Why
people should take part at SIFF?

I'm one of the Administrators at Simatography (simatography.webs.com), the organizers of SIFF. I'm also an Artistic Director for SIFF (Sims International Film Festival). Simatography is a fun, friendly community site for TS3 machinima artists and photographers. Machinima artists of all levels are welcome to join SIFF. It's like a real film festival, with promo videos, posters, interviews of rising stars and other fun activities in the build up to the release date. The
anticipation is intensely fun. All types of movies can be submitted, including music videos and voice acted movies, in any genre. There are many options for submissions, including short ads for those who don't have a lot of time to work on a movie, or want to try machinima for the first time. It's certainly a fun experience.

Are you already working on a new project or will you continue with new episodes of "The Emperor of Evil"?

I'm still working on Emperor of Evil, although I'll have to slow down production slightly while SIFF is happening. I'll be writing the script for episode 26 this coming week. I'm also working on a movie for SIFF. It's different to what I've done before as it will not be based on the series. The movie is called Vengeance and will be in production over the next few weeks. I've made a quick trailer for it.
Once this movie is done I'll take a short break, then start work on episode 27 of Emperor of Evil. I hope many here decide to enter the SIFF film festival. It's certainly fun :)
Watch Emperor of Evil Episode 23


Go to SSproduction's YouTube channel and watch more videos!
Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 21:36