For the record, this Stonehaven machinima is a beast.
Of course, I mean nothing truly negative by that. But I’m pretty sure folks have wondered what the heck is taking me so long to finish it. After all, I started it in April. April! Five whole months ago. That’s a ridiculous amount of time for a machinima, especially since I’m barely past the halfway point.
But I do think I’m “over the hump” and things should move along much faster now. That’s because I’ve finally wrestled the biggest time bandit to the ground—not to say I’ve conquered it—but at least the monster is harnessed. For those of you who have never made or attempted to make custom 3D content, trust me when I say you can lose days to the process. Weeks, even. And a very large percentage of the Stonehaven machinima requires custom content. New meshes. New animations. New approaches in general. Filming is nothing. Creating the sets and props? Well, that’s a horse of an entirely different color.
Today I’m uploading some fresh pictures to give everyone a sneak peek into the past two weeks of this project. Even though I devoted many hours every day to the process, it took that long to create the sets and props for these six pictures. A person who has never played Sims 2 might glance at them and say, “Oh. Okay. So what’s the big deal?” However, an experienced Simmer should—in theory—say “How the heck. . .???” Veteran custom content creators will just shrug and say, “Hmm. Looks like she used Milkshape.”
Indeed I did use Milkshape. It’s a low-end 3D modeling tool that allows Average Janes like me to do the impossible with garden variety computer games. Combine it with SimPE (Simple Package Editor) and the sky’s the limit. SimPE is a modern marvel. A plug from its home site’s About page: “While it is a powerful Tool, SimPE is absolutely free and largely based on Community work.” Yes, indeed it is free. And without serious bugs, spyware, or other malicious stowaways so common in free downloads. But as software goes, they’re not kidding about it being a powerful tool. It’s a hoss. A big old hairy-legged draft hoss, not a fuzzy little pony. My head spins every time I try to comprehend the amount of code people wrote for that program with no expectation of payment whatsoever.
But that’s the nature of the Sims 2 community. I’ve never belonged to a group of any sort with as much generosity. Sure, you have your silly little collabs who barely speak to people outside their own microcosm. But for the most part, Simmers are gregarious, helpful folks with loads of talent and creativity, and they’re eager to share it. . .with a few exceptions. I noted a glaring one below.
As far as the Stonehaven machinima goes, I’m trying very hard to make it as polished and professional as standard commercial animated “shorts.” That being said, there’s no way that machinima can ever compete with frame-by-frame computer generated animation. (For that matter, neither can claymation, yet Chicken Run happens to be one of my all-time favorite movies.) It’s important for people, especially new mainstream viewers, to understand what machinima is, and what’s it’s not. And to stop comparing it to the likes of Toy Story. Pixar did wonderful things with that movie. It was groundbreaking on so many levels. But I’d pretty much guarantee they never had to re-shoot a scene sixteen times because Buzz Lightyear kept picking his nose, or that random townies kept generating in the corner of each scene and strolling through their “closed” set.
Anyhoo. . .
The six “photographs” and media items pictured here will appear as framed wall hangings in the fictional Stonehaven Road green house. They tell their own story, which will be better understood after watching the machinima. For now, just take them in good faith, as proof that I am indeed working hard on this project, and making real (but slow) progress.
(Let’s hear it for WordPress coding: I CANNOT place the following text where I want, which is either before or after the last photo in the column, the one with the green background. So let’s all play “pretend,” okay? Let’s pretend this text is where it should be, and have no confusion over which photo it refers to, or lament the aesthetics of the layout.)
The last photo is the “exception” I mentioned earlier. This snapshot has been posted at the largest Simming site on the Web (Mod The Sims) for several weeks now. At the time of this post, it had been viewed more than 240 times. Yet not a single helpful response. Someone did say I should post photos rather than describe the problem. So I did. Then. . .nothing.
This is a meshing issue I’ve been unable to resolve on my own. It’s some sort of transparency and warp, which suggests incorrect bone assignments to me. Yet all bone assignments are complete and correct. The problem only manifests when an item is converted to an accessory. On the left, you can see what the movie camera should look like. On the right is what happens when I attach it to a Sim. I’m a bit dismayed by the fact that no one has responded on the MTS forum. I can think of many reasons for this, but still. What a disappointment.
Drop-in visitors, if you know the solution, please feel free to share it with me !!