With machinima, you are getting a glimpse into the soul of the artist. They’re not making this film so they can sell tickets at the movies. They are making this to show you who they are.
– Jayjay Jegathesan
The above statement comes at the start of The Drax Files World Makers episode 32, and perhaps perfectly encapsulates a good part of the message offered within it. It also encompasses much of what Second Life is for so many of us: a means of expressing ourselves fully and freely and without the burdens we often face in the physical world – a point Jay Jay also makes later in the film.
This segment is a slight departure from previous episodes, in that it could be said to cover two different, if related, themes. On the one hand, it offers insight into the amazing world of Second Life machinima and the ways in which the platform offers many unique ways of artistic freedom for film-makers. On the other it is a personal look at Jay Jay’s own role within the platform, both at founder and manager of the University of Western Australia’s presence in-world and through it a patron and champion of the arts and machinima through his in-world alter-ego, Jayjay Zifanwe.
These two threads, woven together through the UWA’s ongoing series of art and machinima challenges, make for one of the most complex pieces yet produced by Drax as a part of the World Maker series. In it, he precisely balances insight and understanding into the appeal of machinima and the creative potential Second Life offers the medium with a clearly understandable examination of Jay Jay’s and the UWA’s work in-world, presenting audiences not necessarily well-versed in Second Life with a narrative flow combining both elements into a cohesive whole.
From Jay Jay’s opening comment, we see machinima initially framed through the UWA’s ongoing series of art and machinima competitions (such as Pursue Impossible, which is currently underway), and which serves also to underline the fact that just about every kind of film genre and type known in the physical world can be produced within the virtual – and to extremely high standards.
This richness of opportunity is further underlined with brief statements on their art by some of second Life’s top machinima makers such as Rysan Fall (long a personal favourite), with clips from films by others such as Tutsy Navarathna (ditto). Through this comments, albeit individually brief, the audience gains a well-rounded view of machinima and its creative power and value, as well as into way so many find it so personally satisfying.
And just in case there are any doubts over machinima’s position as a genuine form or artistic and creative expression, I’d at least point to Rysan Fall’s short film Invisible City. This not only topped-out the machinima category for the Project Homeless competition sponsored by the City of Parramatta, new South Wales, it took second position overall in the competition, beating many films made solely in the physical world with its context, narrative and production quality.
Rysan Fall’s brilliant Invisible City
Art and machinima serve many purposes in Second Life, just as they do in the real world, and it is to the UWA’s credit that they have sought to embrace this as much as possible through their promotion of virtual arts – such as with their involvement in Project Homeless, as mentioned above.