Commentary

Starring In Your OWN Cartoon Movie

Last week the Oprah Winfrey Network premiered a movie called "Life 2.0," a documentary on Second Life - and how pretending in avatar form unveils previously unknown capabilities as well as longing.

What being an avatar can offer is a chance to experiment -- not only to fly or to be a dragon, but to unlock that layer of reality that prevents us from having our unspoken needs met.

Just as you might star in a home movie of your birthday party in the physical world, being filmed on Second Life or in any game engine -- a genre known as "machinima" -- gives you that edge which allows a peculiar brand of cartoon physics to apply.

Machinima refers to machine cinema, or film that is made using a screen capture program. Machinima.com is one of the most-visited pure entertainment channels on Youtube, targeting its core demographic of 20 million subscribers, the 18- to 34-year-old males.

Mainstream attention -- including from Warner Brothers, a partner -- indicates how these numbers are important to any media company seeing film box office receipts decline as online gaming rises.

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What these kind of subscriber and viewership numbers also mean is people enjoy taking home movies of themselves on the animated platforms they are on - whether Halo, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty or Second Life.

Machinima has film festivals, among them, MachinimExpo 2011 which will bring together thousands of film makers from across the globe and across platforms this November.

The documentary "Life 2.0" represents a huge breakthrough in machinima going mainstream before an incredibly important audience. Even if the average hard-core gamer fits more into the machinima.com demographic, the Oprah Winfrey documentary also speaks to the biggest group of casual gamers: the over-35-year-old woman.

This kind of film-making explores another step in video -- to capture a new kind of home movie, within virtual worlds and with virtual identities. Fascinating stuff -- and open for branding.

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