So I read this post recently by Mike Jones over at Digital Basin, and felt the need to respond. I was originally just going to leave a comment on his blogpost, but (as usual) it’s gone a little longer than I’d originally intended, so I’m going to post it here instead :)

Hi Mike - an interesting read indeed.

However, I think you might be over-estimating the power of ‘aspirational’ interface design, and letting your own previously accumulated ‘usage paradigms’ cloud your assesment of Moviestorm’s ease-of-use (and appeal).

For the record, I’m a 30-something ‘hobbyist’ film-maker, part-time musician, and (former) freelance web & graphic designer, now working in a primarily non-creative role at an online advertising agency. I’m not a HARDCORE gamer, and my skills using ‘traditional’ 3D toolsets and/or game engine ‘mods’ are severely limited, meaning all my short-lived stabs at making Machinima in previous years have come to nought.

So I guess I’m in the ideal ‘target demographic’ for a product like Moviestorm (and by your argument, Antics).

In the last few days I’ve tried both Moviestorm (now in ’stable’ release, but still very much in development) and Antics 3.1. The thing is Mike, the very aspects of Antics’ GUI that you laud are the ones which most turn me off. As you point out, Antics by design has opted very much for a ‘traditional’ 3D application interface. For the ‘3D-dyslexic’ user, it recalls the (to us) CLUNKING aesthetics of ‘high-end’ apps like 3DS-Max, Maya, and (to some extent) Poser.

Don’t get me wrong - I realise these are all truly powerful, truly mature applications, and as you said in your article, anyone with a modicum of experience in the aformentioned ‘high-end’ environments will feel right at home with Antics, and be able to create a scene in half an hour like yourself. This is the market segment Antics was originally aimed at (’pre-viz’ for feature films, allowing guys who would previously have had to use a full-blown app such as one of the above, to simplify their workflow).

That GUI paradigm however, makes Antics a pain, rather than a joy to use, for the rest of us ‘mere mortals’ who don’t have a few years of ‘high-end’ production experience under our belts. If you’re completely new to 3D and Machinima, then you’re learning a new interface regardless. If (like me) you’ve tried the ‘big boy’s applications’ before, and been frustrated by the steep learning curves and highly-specialised paradigms, then another GUI which draws on this legacy of ’shared 3D misery’ is going to be a turn-off.

Contrast this with Moviestorm. It’s a ‘fresh’ interface in many ways in terms of Machinima authoring (which isn’t a bad thing - for example, part of the reason Flash has become such a ubuquitous tool for rich media creation on the web, is that in it’s earliest incarnations it was such a RADICAL departure from the way web content had previously been authored), whilst at the same time recalling games titles like The Sims 2 & The Movies.

Its ‘power’ and its appeal lies precisely in it’s (apparent) ’simplicity’. The mistake you’ve made in your article is assuming the ‘hobbyist’ user is going to ‘aspire’ to use a ‘high-end’-like tool. For Pete’s sake why ? We’re not talking about ‘aspirational voting’ or ‘aspirational lifestyle choices’ here Mike, we’re talking about software usability. For an ‘old-hand’ Antics is a breeze, but for a ‘noob’ to the field it’s a nightmare. Less of a nightmare than a pro-level app, but still a nightmare.

I think the REAL problem with your post is you’ve lost sight of the ‘end goal’. Yes, someone like myself or the ‘archetypical hobbyist’ ASPIRES to be a bona-fide ‘professional’ film-maker. Read that again carefully. FILM maker. Not necessarily a professional ‘Machinima maker’. We respect the work that ‘pioneer’ Machinima producers have made, and the EXTREME skills they’ve shown in coaxing convincing performances out of game engines, ‘traditional’ 3D tools, and ‘pre-viz’ products like Antics. However, we don’t necessarily ‘aspire’ to following the same routes they have to making their films - animated, or otherwise. What matters at the end of the day is the final product (the film) - not how many hoops you had to jump through (even though as I said, the guys who’ve done it the ‘hard’ way definitely get all deserved props for it) to make it.

That’s why - at least for me (and I suspect the rest of the steadily growing Moviestorm user-base), Moviestorm have made nothing but the RIGHT choices in their choice of interface paradigm, and overall application design. It’s simple, it’s easy to use, it’s blisteringly fast, it hides a lot of surprisingly advanced features under the hood - and in a few hours work (without even reading the sparse documentation, just doing two tutorials) I was able to conceive, execute and render a short-film concept in 3D complete with dialogue, auto-lipsync, and camera movements from scratch.

Something which, alas, I couldn’t do with Antics - or any other piece of software I’ve tried over the years !
[end rant]

Thanks for listening ;)

So I’ve tried various ways to make Machinima over the years, but the problem has always been that I SUCK at 3D. A few days ago though, I found a new bit of software called Movie Storm, and for once it does what it says on the box - makes Machinima creation relatively painless.

Here’s my first effort - a little short I’ve called ‘The Blinky Conundrum’ - let me know what y’all think !

The Blinky Conundrum - HD from Czechboy Films on Vimeo.

Doing a quick ‘blog post’ like the cool kids - vblog stylee, before we piss off overseas for a few weeks !

EDIT 17/07/08: Currently offline - moving it to a different Youtube account from my ‘movie’ stuff !

So, my first thoughts on seeing last night’s ‘Launch’ show of BB08 -


More thoughts on BB08 to come :)

Hey guys,

Another plug for some vids I’ve got up on Youtube - one’s an (older) original track of mine, and the other is a remix of the new Vile Evils single I just did the other day (slow day at work hehe).

As always, let me know what y’all think …

So I’ve been keeping busy again with work and other stuff (big surprise there, huh ?)

Haven’t managed to write any new posts for ages, but I did manage to put together another little trailer mash-up, now doing the rounds on YouTube. I think it’s definitely better than the first one (although the former has also been redubbed and tweaked now, coz I finally have a decent mic at home).

Have a squiz, and please share this with your mates if you like it !

Whoever said I don’t give away stuff to my loyal readers (all 3 of them hehe) ?

Well, they were wrong !

Here for your designing pleasure is a free (hopefully cool) font I made all by myself from scratch in Illustrator and Fontforge. Kind of trying to evoke that ‘old school’ Designer’s Republic aesthetic (hence the reason the font is called Sheffield).

Here’s a quick preview of what it looks like -

PL Sheffield Caps Preview

And HERE’S where you can download it !

For those playing at home, this font is free to use in all personal (i.e. non-commercial) projects, and remains the copyright of yours truly. For commercial use, please contact me.

Let me know what you think guys !


UPDATED 11/02/08:
I’ve got a Mac OS-X compatible version up now as well - download is HERE’S

Action Clause Image

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for a fantastic year, and all your comments and encouragement, and continuing to read my drivel ! Big things planned for 2008 (but I say that every year haha !), but for now I just want to wish you all a Merry Xmas and a fantastic NYE, and I hope I see you again next year !

Party safe, and have an awesome time, gang.

Pete (DB)


Here’s a little letter I just sent to a bunch of my Liberal-voting friends (I’m sure we all have some, poor misguided fools that they are) - you might like to do the same before the weekend.


So guys, I know you’re probably sick of all the election stuff already over the last month. I also know SOME of you are avowed Liberal supporters, although I’m not sure all of you are - so please don’t take offence at my assumption if I’ve got it wrong in any of your cases !

You’d all be aware of course, that I’m not a big fan of our current PM and his party. That doesn’t mean I hold it against you if YOU are, it just means we’ve got different hopes for this weekend’s outcome. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s going to be a pretty ‘historic’ vote this time ’round, so that’s why I’m writing you all this quick email.

Given the ‘importance’ of this election, I reckon if I can get even one Liberal voter to change their vote (whether it’s putting Labor, the Greens, The Democrats, or the Utter Raving Nutter party first - it doesn’t matter to me, as long as you don’t preference the Libs first or second), I’m doing a ‘good’ thing. Feel free to discard this email if you vehemently disagree with everything I’ve just said - otherwise please hear me out for two seconds.

I don’t know if you guys read the fantastic ‘Opinion Piece’ by Paul Keating in today’s Herald, but I think he’s hit the nail right on the head.The crux of his argument is that we need regime change to find our way back to the principals and values this great country once stood for.

As Keating says, the eleven years we’ve endured under the present regime have seen a tragic errosion in the quality of our public discourse, and the very social fabric that underpins what it means to be ‘Australian’. Howard has not only championed, but actually encouraged a ‘turning inwards’, while seeking to solidify a ‘fortress Australia’ mentality to serve his own ends.

Our reputation overseas has suffered undeniable harm thanks to a whole range of issues such as mandatory detention, Tampa, our participation in the Iraq fiasco, and our refusal to ratify Kyoto. Believe me - I have family and numerous friends overseas - I know what people in other countries say about Aussies these days.

Domestically, we’ve seen the Liberals tear our public health & education systems to tatters, destroy housing affordability, and try to shaft everyone but the ‘big end of town’ with their onerous Work Choices legislation. We’ve heard ‘non-core promises’, ‘one day promises’, and outright lies. Yet perplexingly, the majority of Australians (myself excluded … but hey, you get that) have up till now continued to vote Howard & friends back in.

Now Johnnie has the arrogance to try and tell us that “change for the sake of change itself is meaningless”, and “you can’t change government without changing the country”. I think he’s missed the point.

All the opinion polls aren’t pointing to a Liberal defeat because people want change “for it’s own sake” - they want change because they are whole-heartedly sick of HOWARD, his party, and their inwardly focussed, self-serving policies.

The whole point is that the tide seems to have turned against Howard precisely because the electorate WANTS to “change [our] country”. We’re sick of the fear-mongering, the half-truths and distortions, the grubby little back-room deals which lead to things like the AWB scandal or sending our boys overseas to fight in a “War on Terror” which is ultimately America’s brain-child, and not our own.

We’re sick of a government that funnels money out of our hospitals, our public schools and universities, our welfare system, and our pockets via the GST and fuel excises, then pumps it in ever-increasing fistfuls into privately outsourced ‘detention camps’ which lock up innocent people seeking a better life in our country and the occasional Australian citizen, into Bush’s war machine, into pointless rounds of so-called ‘informational’ advertising designed to convince us we’ve “never had it so good”, into hastily approved (or worse) ‘pork-barrel’ projects to prop up Liberal and National seats, and into the pockets of its mates with their corporate kick-backs and high-income tax breaks.

Granted, there’s *always* a chance Kevin Rudd may turn out to be no better than John Howard in the long haul (although somehow I doubt it), but at least he’s paying lip service to a vision for the future which doesn’t involve more of the same feckless horrors above, which the Liberals have doled out to the people of Australia for the last eleven years.

THAT my friends, is why I’m hoping Kevin 07 comes through this Saturday, and Australia finally gets to see ‘Howard’s End’.

So please guys, as one friend to another I’m urging you to think carefully.

Please make your votes count this Saturday, and join me in letting the Liberals know that (to paraphrase TV’s Big Brother) - “JOHN, IT’S TIME TO LEAVE THE HOUSE” !!!

- Authorised by (your name and suburb go here)

I think I’ve just found a new love … ! Why ?

I got a little package, and something arrived in the post today as well ;-)

That’s right mofos - the mailman has just dropped off “Planet Terror” & “Deathproof” on DVD for me at work. For those who don’t know, these are the two constituent films which made up ‘Grindhouse’, the poorly-grossing, yet undeniably appealing (at least to ’so bad it’s good’ film buffs like yours truly) recent cinematic experiment from Quintin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez. Whilst the initial cinematic release in the States had these films playing together as an ostensible ‘double feature’, linked by a bunch of wacky faux-trailers to recreate the ‘Grindhouse Cinema’ / Drive-In experience, they’ve been split for subsequent international & DVD release.

There’s still hope amongst fans that they original ‘double feature’ experience will be restored at some point by a DVD release featuring both films plus all the ‘extra’ stuff showcased in the ‘Grindhouse’ US release, at this point it’s only possible to get the films separately.

‘Death Proof’ has only recently started showing in Australian cinemas, and in a judicious piece of casting stars Kurt Russel as a psychopathic stuntman who ’stalks sexy young ladies’ (as the packaging blurb puts it), and kills them in his ‘deathproof’ 1970’s (?) Dodge Challenger (the yank equivelant of the venerable Valiant). Directed by Tarantino, it’s supposed to be some of his best work in years, so I’m definitely looking forward to watching it.

‘Planet Terror’ hasn’t even come out anywhere but the USA yet, and if I’m looking forward to Death Proof, I’m almost at the point of having a religious experience … in my pants … at the prospect of Planet Terror. Directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is a futuristic zombie splatter-flick starring Rose McGowan (my favourite Halliwell) as a stripper-turned-zombie-fighter who ends up with an M-16 in place of a leg for the majority of the movie.

I luuuuurve a well-done zombie movie (even when it doesn’t star Rose, although as anyone who has seen Jawbreaker knows, she plays a bad-girl very well), and if the trailer I just watched on the DVD is anything to go by, this is going to be one of those.

Now don’t get me wrong - I’ve raised my standards *slightly* since the days when I used to watch literally ANY shite which I could find in the ‘ten videos for ten bucks’ weekly rental horror / slasher / sci-fi aisle at Video Sleazy. Mainly because sitting through Rob Zombie’s ‘definitely trying way too fucking hard’ directorial debut (House of a Thousand Corpses) made me realise there really ARE some films which constitute two hours of your life wasted, which you are never ever going to get back.

Unlike the aforementioned House of A Thousand Corpses though, I have a strong feeling the ‘Grindhouse’ DVDs I’ve had arrive are NOT going to be waste - quiet the reverse.

Watch this space for reviews, after I’ve had a chance to watch them on the weekend. Who knows … I might even go all out to repeat my ‘ten videos for ten bucks’ experience of yore, and get a big arse bucket of KFC and a few bourbon and cokes in me, to go with that :)

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