Monday, 27 August 2012

Visions Beyond The City

(click to enlarge)

Here is a machinima that I think is especially well done.
I don't know the filmmaker personally - Neodog1 on YouTube and Shaman Nitely in Second Life - but saw the link posted on SLUniverse.
'Visions Beyond the City' opens with a slow and delicate camera track of Hangers Liquides cityscape, where incidentally, much of my own 'Rapture' and Shaman-inspired 'FWD: Evolution' were filmed.  And, like my own treatment of Hangers Liquides for machinima purposes, Shaman Nitely has also subject his raw footage to extensive colour correction. He really does make it look fabulous for film.
I have in mind a future blog-post discussing colour correction in machinima, mainly arising out of conversations with Tutsy Navarathna regarding use of the 'Fast Color Corrector', the 'Three-Way Color Corrector' and the 'Brightness & Contrast' effects. Not a tutorial on their specific usage as such but more a discussion on the importance of colour correction in filmmaking and the role these effects play. I think 'Curves' is pretty well known  and is already being used extensively by the SL Photoshop photography community.
Tutsy's recent MachinimUWA V winning 'The Last Syllable of Recorded Time' is probably one of the best examples of colour correction in machinima that I know of, especially when watched in 1080. Its beautiful and delicate colour palette has been noted by Larkworthy Antfarm, Iono Allen and others besides myself.
The protagonist voiceover for 'Visions Beyond the City', kicking in at just after ten seconds, reveals beyond doubt that Shaman Nitely is English! But more...the voice is strangely reminiscent of someone and it took me a few minutes before I could put my finger on it! The voiceover sounds uncannily like the English 'Reservoir Dogs' actor, Tim Roth! And, that is a good thing! I mean it as a compliment; I like it - it is cool, gritty and real.
The film uses quite a number of lens flares, most usually in an appropriate manner such as the nicely executed tracking of the exhaust valves of the air-vehicles. It has to be said that although I often like the look of lens flares aesthetically, I have personally mostly weaned myself off them - especially since being chastised by a college lecturer for their use in 'Rapture'. Lens flares do have a part to play, but judiciously and prudently, in my and some others' opinions. For the most part, 'Visions Beyond The City' uses lens flares within those boundaries.
Many of the post-production effects are very well handled indeed, and the background sound effects add a further dimension and realism to each scene.
I especially enjoyed the character studies as the camera pans the inner city and latches onto the denizens. That, and the use of the Plague Doctor avatar, brought to mind  'MetaSex' which, incredibly, now has over 4,500 YouTube views and 47 comments.
The voice track that kicks in around 5:11 sounds like a old-timer working class Londoner, and could in fact be a member of my own family on my father's side! The "vision" sequence which starts soon after is very well done, both technically and artistically.
'Visions Beyond The City' presents the traditional dark sci-fi feel in a stylish and stylised manner. It has so much to commend it and is certainly one of the most all-round polished and enjoyable machinima I have had the pleasure of watching this year.
Please take the time to watch Shaman Nitely's 'Visions Beyond the City'...

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