Ever come out of the cinema thinking, “Hah, I could do better than that!” safe in the knowledge that you’ll never actually have to prove it? Tough, because now’s your chance to find out whether there was anything behind all that bravado.
Moviestorm is an animation program that lets you create movies with three dimensional characters, scenes, dialogue, camera angles, lighting, incidental music and then save the result as a movie file that anyone can watch on their PC. The result is like a cross between Second Life and the Sims, except you’re behind the wheel.
Moviestorm lets you create sets from scratch and then populate them with characters. You can then control how they interact with each other and their environment. From the outset, Moviestorm characters know how to do certain things: they can walk in different ways (from a tired slouch to a flat-out run); they know how to sit down, open doors and talk to other characters; you can make them switch on lights, eat breakfast, take a shower or run away from zombies and aliens (yes, there are plenty of add-on packs including Horror and Sci-Fi).
In fact, the degree of control you can exert over a Moviestorm movie is remarkable (from set decorations to light sources) but we’d highlight the ‘head designer’ where you can use sliders to change every aspect of someone’s face (including skin tone and make-up) and which, within the limitations of the graphics engine, allows you to populate your film with real individuals, rather than mere ciphers.
This is complicated stuff so to begin with, rather than creating everything from scratch, it’s a good idea to use one of the theme packs. Then, should you become enthused by the program, you can always go back and dress the set and the characters yourself later on. If you’ve ever played the Sims, you’ll have a head start with Moviestorm because many of the control mechanisms are the same, but remember that having blocked out the action you then have to film and then edit it which introduces entirely new – and fascinating – levels of complexity.
The software’s free to download but you pay a subscription fee which entitles you to a number of points (the higher the fee the more points you accrue) which are used to purchase packs of content including things like extra characters, exteriors, interiors, music and sound clips, and themed packs (think cartoons, holidays, criminals, and – inevitably – adult).
What’s not to like? We had one or two problems downloading content which turned out to be server errors (but weren’t flagged anywhere as such) and there’s the occasional graphics-related glitch where a character’s arm will do something impossible or the horizon’s not quite right, but apart from that, with a reasonably stout modern PC you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
There’s no doubt that Moviestorm has a steepish learning curve as you get to grips with the differences between things like the director’s view and the camera’s view, but overall this is a triumph. It’s perhaps not a fully fledged one yet, but Moviestorm is well on the way, and for the serious budding movie maker, or anyone who’s interested in how films are put together, it’s hard to beat.
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