The Next Simpsons?

The Strangerhood is a five-minute sitcom made using The Sims, about eight archetypes living together.

Dept.: Tech Lesson
Tech: Machinima moviemaking
Cost: Free
Time: One hour and up
Dabbler | | | | | Master

Strange Company, which runs the Machinima hub, has put together a Machinima Production Kit ( By Hugh Hancock of Strange Company’s own admission, it is a bit cobbled-together, but it includes a free version of Quake II, editing software and detailed instructions to get you started. Unfortunately, the MPK is pretty buggy, and the only tech support available is the bulletin boards at

If you can boost your film’s budget to, say, $37 or so, you can upgrade to Fountainhead Entertainment’s Machinimation, a robust, fully supported piece of machinima-making software that comes bundled with Fountainhead’s book The Art of Machinima ($26 from Amazon: ). Machinimation uses the engine from Quake III, which you will also have to purchase ($10 from Amazon:). The book includes 100 pages of tutorials using the Machinimation software.

Another attractive platform is Second Life, from Linden Labs (seven-day free trial, $9.95 one-time cost for basic account; ). Second Life is an online virtual world where the scenery, characters and activities are created by the users-in other words, a perfect machinima platform. ( SL review: It has a video-capture tool built into the software, and some very good machinima is beginning to be made with it. Other online role-playing games such as Star Wars Galaxies ( have produced excellent movies as well.
To the novice machinima-maker, Hancock offers the following advice: “Don’t get discouraged. It may seem hard to come to grips with, but it will get easier. You get over the first major hump at around 10 hours, after you finish your first movie. Myself, I’ve been doing this for eight years, and I’m just getting over hump number seven or so.”

Machinima film examples:

Made with Quake III/Machinimation:

Made with Second Life:

Made with Star Wars Galaxies: