Starring in your OWN Cartoon Movie

written by: Pooky Amsterdam

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On August 25th the Oprah Winfrey Network will show the movie Life 2.0.  Jason Spingarn-Koff entered Second Life and filmed a documentary both inworld and out focusing his camera and screen capture program on a variety of people whose inner lives are brought to light. As a documentary it is a stunning picture of how extending and pretending in avatar form unveils previously unknown capabilities as well as longing. Ultimately it shows the incredible bravery of people willing to partake, face and learn in an environment which must be called animated. And face themselves, their fears, their hopes and desires, right before our very eyes, in a virtual drama, we watch and are fascinated by. Could we ever do this? Be this? Share this kind of honesty? What being an avatar can offer is a chance to experiment, not only to fly or to be a dragon, for example, but to unlock that layer of reality which prevents us from having our unspoken needs met.

That this was filmed on Second Life, means people such as you and me are inhabiting a landscape where although anything is possible, the limitations are real. Ultimately, as we are all too human. And as it is “us” starring in this movie within a virtual world, this brings the possibility of what it means to be an avatar in a video. Just as you might star in a home movie of your birthday party, or anniversary in the physical world, being filmed on Second Life gives you that cartoon edge which allows a peculiar brand of animated physics to apply. It is a genre known as machinima.

Machinima refers to machine cinema, or film that is made using a screen capture program. is one of the most visited pure entertainment channel on youtube. It is a top destination  and  filled with video that is highly targeting its core demographic of 20 million subscribers, the 18 – 34 year old male, recording their impressive kills, or captures or shooting skills. Mainstream attention and Warner Brothers, a partner now indicates how these numbers are important to any media company seeing Hollywood box Office decline as Online gaming rises.

What these kind of subscriber and viewership numbers also mean is people enjoy taking home movies of themselves on the animated platforms they are on. Whether it is Halo, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty or Second Life. . Machinima has  film festivals, among them, MachinimExpo 2011 which will bring together thousands of film makers from across the globe and across platforms this Novemeber. Life 2.0 represents a huge breakthrough in machinima going mainstream and before an incredibly important audience. Even if the average hard core gamer fits more into the demographic, Oprah Winfrey speaks to the biggest group of casual gamers – the over 35 year old woman. How Life 2.0 is viewed will be significant.

What machinima video offers:

  • 1)      Freedom to express oneself within a game engine
  • 2)      Democracy as screen capture programs are easy to download and get going
  • 3)      A way to record your cartoon adventures

Youtube started with Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo, this video one could argue, was the start of what has become a billion dollar branding and marketing movement. It was a video of a man at a zoo.

Machinima is our ability to capture ourselves with new reach, scope and  medium.

According to MediaDaily News and Wayne Friendmn's article this week, In-Stat says 65% of the U.S. population will own a smartphone and/or tablet by 2015 -- that comes to over 200 million people in total. The survey says this estimate will have an impact on how video entertainment is acquired and consumed. We know video has impact, delivers a message and is actively sought by viewers, we consume entertainment. Machinima and Life 2.0 shows us that our avatar personas in a virtual existence can be content. This represents a subtle meaningfulshift as the audience  increasingly becoming content itself.

Life 2.0 is a documentary about people living and learning about themselves on a virtual plane. This kind of film making explores another step in video which is to capture a new kind of home movie, where we are living and playing. Within Virtual worlds and with virtual identities. Fascinating stuff and Open for Branding.


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