Animating a poem using Machinima

As part of a group project I’m looking at how Machinima can be used to interpret a poem. Machinima is a free piece of software. We looked first at an example of a poem by Byron When We Two Parted. My brief is to research some similar pieces of machinima to look at what works well and techniques we could adopt.

I found it difficult because I couldn’t find any similar examples. ‘When we two parted’ is done with simplicity, in 2D. The colours aren’t subtle. Sometimes it has the look and feel of a graphic novel, with flat black and white occasionally creating a little modelling depth in a face. It’s entirely static shots with action sometimes animating within the frame and that animation having limited motion. It uses cuts not mixes. Backgrounds are mainly flat and untexturised. All of it works well for poetry, but I couldn’t find anything to compare it with directly. The examples I browsed all had much greater use of textures, with what looked like layers of animation eg fiery backgrounds with moving figures running into them, and a rich 3D feel to the characters. A lot of the examples had developing shots, following action or panning around fluidly.

I assume that for our project that’s too ambitious and we will need to think much more simply, but the examples I’ve chosen prompt a few thoughts and questions about shot styles that might work for the poem.

I also think how we use sound and silence can help us to set atmosphere and emotion

Created in Moviestorm


This is Danse Macabre. I like the colour palette with its stark black tress and subdued, dirtyish hues. It can feel downbeat and grainy. If we want to follow the starker primary hues of ‘When we too parted’ that would create a more newspapery feel with its black, white, red and yellow.
The opening of Danse Macabre sums up the usual approach. It’s got that game feeling  as the pov pans wildly round a number of escape avenues. If expertise allows that could be useful if we want to convey a feeling of a trapped personality, hemmed around by conflicting choices and voices. But that could also be created by a series of cuts, allowing us to see the things that surround our protagonist. The roving POV is a very familiar set up through games. Is it a disadvantage anyway to draw on this very familiar and predictable technique? There is a game element to the poem, a quest, a journey. It could be achieved differently through cutting between static wide shots of him progressing through the environment and close ups of his face and the objects he focuses on. Should we restrict wide shots and mainly work through it on his point of view?

Number Two- This is Tales From Midnight City

In this, I like the close ups of detail, the clock and the face and eyes mostly, and some of the sense of the city. Our film has a journey in it. How will we experience that journey? through wide city scapes? through following the protagonist?

I like the build up of atmosphere through quite subtle sound. Our project offers some good opportunities for sound, and possibly for some quite varied sound as emotion ebbs and builds.

It uses a lot of different viewpoints to take shots from. Possibly too many, I think. The number of shots makes the film quite cutty, with no obvious motivation. But I like the possibilities of many of the odd angles the film maker uses. Will cutting and odd angles help us to create tension and action?

My third choice is Twinkle Twinkle

I like this because of the use of sound and the moody pictures. I particularly like the fourth shot of the man on the round with the light effects. Bleak and seedy.

These techniques may not be things we can do at this stage, but I hope they can begin the discussion about what styles we can use, what kinds of shots are possible, and what colours, sounds and effects we can use.


One Response to Animating a poem using Machinima

  1. Gamekilla says:

    Thanks for watching my video =)

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