Moviestorm is enabling a new generation of amateur film-makers to realize their visions. It offers easy, affordable animation tools that can produce sophisticated high-quality films on practically no budget. After several years in development, Moviestorm has demonstrated that home movie-making needn’t be limited to cheap hand-held cameras and clips of the kids goofing around. Its virtual movie studio allows users to break free of the limitations of the real world, and allows them to direct, film, edit and distribute 3D animated movies without any knowledge of animation techniques or 3D modelling. And best of all, it’s free, and comes without any copyright restrictions.
Iain Friar, known as IceAxe, is one of Moviestorm’s many successful film-makers. His short film, Clockwork, a dystopian vision of a totalitarian Britain after a Soviet invasion in the 1980s, is winning accolades and awards around the world, most recently the audience prize at the Atopic Festival in France and the Grand Prize at the Machinima Expo. Clearly influenced by both 1984 and A Clockwork Orange, with a visual style that evokes both Communist era propaganda posters and more recent animated movies such as A Scanner Darkly, it is a stark, powerful film that belies its modest origins.
Iain, who’s 42, works in marketing, and started making movies just 18 months ago. “I’ve always been a hands-on person, in music, sport, and everything else,” he says. “I thought it would be fun to shoot a music video, but I’m not the most technical of people, and it seemed extraordinarily hard. I remember when computer games started using in-game animation to tell the story instead of video clips, and this interested me, especially now that game technology has become so sophisticated. So I bought a book, Machinima for Dummies, which had Moviestorm on the CD, and I was hooked. I liked Moviestorm because it did what I was looking for, even though I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time, and the Moviestorm community was very supportive. I initially made comedies, but I could see that the movies people respected were more dramatic, so it seemed that was the direction to go in.”
He spent four months working on Clockwork, and then the same again on his next short, Cloud Angel, a steampunk thriller set on board an airship. Apart from the voice acting, he made the entire film himself at his home in Basingstoke, England. “I’m lucky that my friends are so willing to step up to the mike and read my silly scripts!” he laughs. His next film is Gridlock, a science fiction comedy which he is co-producing with another successful Moviestorm director, James Thorpe. For this, they’ve stepped up the production costs a notch: they hired a recording studio and got the local amateur dramatic group to do the voice acting.
Iain is realistic about his future, though. “Am I ambitious? Yes. Do I want to keep it as just a hobby? Well, probably yes, because I imagine that if it became a full time activity, the fun might go out of it. I make movies as escapism. That said, I think that this industry would be really interesting to work in, because it’s embryonic; I’m not sure what direction it will go in. It’s exciting!”
Moviestorm’s CEO, Jeff Zie, is hugely enthusiastic and supportive. “Iain and the many other Moviestorm users are an inspiration to us all,” he says. “We’re really proud that we’re giving talented people like this the tools they need to unleash the creative potential they never knew they had, and to produce these wonderful films.”
Try it and see!
You can download Moviestorm for free: Windows and Mac versions are available. If you want, you can expand your virtual film studio and buy extra costumes, sets, props, and sounds in their marketplace. If you’ve ever wondered whether you might be the next Tarantino, Ang Lee, or J J Abrams, now’s the time to find out!