Machinima - or movies filmed using game engines - is taking the Internet by storm. Specifically, machinima is made from 3D engines of PC games such as Quake, Halo, Half-Life, or The Sims 2. Once considered to be just a means of creating film parodies by video game and movie fans, machinima has been increasing in popularity over the last few years and is being taken seriously. It is now considered as an alternative means of filmmaking and in fact, has been used for marketing purposes.
The March 2007 issue of PC Gamer magazine features the winners from the Fourth Annual Machinima Festival, one of which was Tra5h Ta1k, which won the award for Best Virtual Performance in Puppeteering. Created by machinima pioneers Ill Clan Productions, Tra5h Ta1k is an R-rated talk show/gaming news parody reminiscent of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. Tra5h Ta1k has a quirky but amusing cast of characters. Ill Will is the show's host and wears armor over his business suit. His smarmy but loyal sidekick Mal Content is a talking missile and a member of the Amanda Bynes Fan Club. Their assistant is a corpulent zombie who enjoys discussing Nietzsche over a game of checkers.
Although Ill Clan has created other machinima, Tra5h Ta1k is their most popular series. If you watch the show, it's easy to see why. In nearly every episode Will has stumbled into a strange but hilarious predicament. So far, he's been kidnapped by aliens, blown up in a Humvee, and unknowingly started an online romantic relationship with the zombie. Meanwhile, Mal always finds new ways to embarrass his friend by revealing for example, that he sleeps in footsie pajamas or is still a virgin.
In a recent telephone interview with two members of Ill Clan, founder and Tra5h Ta1k director Matt Dominianni explained that a few years had passed since their first two Machinima Festival awards, and felt a little vindicated by their recent win. "We feel really good that we kind of came back after that. It kind of makes me feel that we got back to what we're good at," said Dominianni, who also does the voice of Ill Will. While Tra5h Ta1k uses a 3D game engine (in their case, Torque), unlike most machinima, Tra5h Ta1k doesn't contain pre-existing characters and sets. "We wanted to create our own intellectual property so we weren't limited. We wanted to play around and see what we can do," explained Frank Dellario, Ill Clan co-founder and producer.