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DiMono Site Admin
The Complete Film Making FAQ and Help ThreadOver time, we have found some of the same questions get asked over and over again. This thread is a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions from this forum. Yes, the thread length is daunting, which is why the contents of this thread have been broken down in to the following readily available links:
  • General Film Making Questions - Post 2
  • General Machinima Questions - Post 3
  • Video Tricks - Post 4
  • Katyara's Tips for Good Voice-over Work - Post 5
  • Audio Questions - Post 6
  • Halo Questions - Post 7
  • Machinimist's Copyright FAQ, by dark54555 - Post 8
  • All About Music Rights, by slick8086, HatHead and zegron - Post 9
  • Red vs Blue Questions - Post 10
Except where indicated otherwise, these FAQs are the original combined work of Sevenar, Benny, DarkangelUK, Katyara, Tarzan_man, skyman8081, and other contributors whose names have been lost to the sands of time. I wrote very little of the actual contents of this thread, I merely assembled it all. If you have a question about something covered in this thread, do not send your message to me; send it to the person who originally wrote that post
#1  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 29 Cool
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DiMono Site Admin
General Film Making questions
What software is there that can help me with my script?
There is a lot of software for script-writing. Many of them are more for advanced script-writers though. The best program for script writing is probably Final Draft. Which is what most Hollywood writers and Rooster Teeth use. It will cost you about 250 dollars. If your not undergoing any big projects then I suggest DramaDog, it's still very good and doesn't cost as much. For more information on script writing software look here.

A good and free script writing program is celtx

You are probably woundering what the difference is between a script writing protocol and your average Microsoft Word. Well, there is a big difference. First of all script wiring software comes pre-formatted to the exact needs of any script. If you are looking for script templates for Microsoft Word just visit their website and look around. You will probably find one.

What is the line of action?
The imanginary line between two characters, or the direction the action you are covering is going in. All camera angles need to be on ONE side of it. Placing a camera on the other side disrupts the continuity of movement. For example, a subject moving screen-right will appear to be going screen-left if you cut to an angle on the other side of the line of action.

What are the "Safe Zones"?
The "Safe Zones" refer to the area of a picture that is cropped off by all television picture tubes. The action safe zone is the inner 90% of the picture, it is safe to have any action occur in this area. The Title Safe zone is the inner 80% of the picture, this is where all graphics and text should be located onscreen, to avoid them being cropped.

What is the Rule of Thirds?
The Rule of Thirds refers to the framing of shots in a way that is the most pleasing to the eye. All your action and eye-lines (the location of-screen of your subject's eyes onscreen) should be one third from 2 edges of the screen.

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#2  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 3 Cool
DiMono Site Admin
General Machinima questions
Can I make a machinima in Game X?
Yes. It doesn't even matter what game you're talking about, you can make a video in it. All that matters is your storywriting ability and your determination in getting it done.

How do I record off of my Xbox?
You need either a video capture card or a digital camcorder with an S-Video input, and the S-Video cable set for your Xbox (sold separately). You may need a splitter/distribution amp if you want to watch it on the TV at the same time you're recording.

How do I get footage off a camcorder into my computer?
Most MiniDV camcorders come equipped with a FireWire (IEEE-1394/i.Link) port. You need a FireWire port on your computer and a FireWire cable. You also need a video editor that can control your camcorder over the FireWire link.

What's a good free/cheap/powerful video editor?
Free, your two choices on PC are WIndows Movie Maker or Avid Free DV.
Cheap, your best bet is Pinnacle Studio 9. It will do the FireWire import mentioned above and can be found on sale at BestBuy and similar places in the $50 price range.
Powerful, you want Final Cut Pro on the Mac, Adobe Premiere Pro on the PC. Sony Vegas 5.0 (PC) gets an Honorable Mention.

Where do you get your ideas?
We think them up. Try it.

How do I save the video from Halo PC?
One word: FRAPS. It's $30 well spent. Make sure you have a ton of HD space, because FRAPS saves all video uncompressed. Don't set your game screen bigger than 800x600, since more than that is a waste of resources. DVD resolution is only 720x480, after all.

Fraps is stupid and slows down my computer. What are my alternatives? is your option. GameCam compresses its video, which eats even more CPU cycles and gives you artifact-laden results. You want to start with as good a source as possible when you start editing. But yes, there are alternatives to FRAPS. Try the demos and pick which one works best for you.

If I upgrade FRAPS will I be able to make longer videos? I can only record up to 30 seconds right now.

If I upgrade FRAPS does it have an expiration date?

Do you record the sound first, or the video first?
For most machinima, you want to record the sound first, just like in classical animation. The reason you do this is because it's much easier to match the animation to the sound than vice versa. A notable exception to this may be The Sims 2. While you have fantastic camera control, you don't have precise control over your actors every movement. You might have to record your dialogue to fit what the Sims do instead of trying to force them to get your dialogue right.

What is the best engine to use for machinima?
Depends on what you're trying to accomplish. Halo is neither the best nor the worst. The Sims 2 has almost the opposite strengths and weaknesses of Halo. The easiest all-around is probably Unreal Tournament 2004. It comes with modeling and mapping tools, you can remove the HUD in the game options menu, and there's a huge user community for support. UT2k4 also has built-in console commands to detach and lock the camera from the player. Half-Life 2 looks promising if you have the hardware to run it, and "The Movies" is in the works as well.

What can I use to record/edit my videos?
For Video Recording your going to need either a video capture card or a Digital Video camera. Those are the two most recommended things for recording off your Xbox. They will both record sound aswell.Unfortunatly a video capture card will cost you 100$-300$, but if you don't want your video to look crappy I recommend buying one over 150$. And no, don't even think of recording off the Xbox Live headset. That will kill your Machinima right away. If you don't know what a video capture card is, its a card they install into the back of your computer so you can plug your Xbox or whatever you need into the back of your computer directly.

Now the alternative is the D/V Cam. If you own a D/V Cam I reccomend using it. All you need to do is plug the Red, White, and Yellow cords from the D/V Cam into the OUT port in your TV, and plug the Xbox into your IN port. If you don't see your Xbox screen on your camcorder, then there might be an option to swith the incoming footage from lense to line. Then it should work. Once you have all your footage on your Camera, then you have to get it to your computer right? For this your going to need a Fire Wire Card. If your using a Mac this wont be a problem but if your running Windows you will probably need to buy a FireWire port (100$-200$). If you have one, plug the Cord from your cam to your computer and all the footage should load.

Video Editing. If your making a Halo 1/2 Machinima you will need a pretty good editing program considering the fact that you will need to cut off the HUD and Gun in the display. The recommended editing software is Adobe After Effects (For taking away the HUD and Gun), and Adobe Premier Pro (For editing). Unfortunatly these programs will cost you about 600$ each. If your not willing to spend that kind of money I suggest searching for affordable programs that have the features you need.

How do you capture in Doom3?
DarkangelUK to the rescue:
1st of all you have to set the resolution you want to capture at. Default size is almost thumbnail. The settings are as follows..

com_avidemowidth "1024"
com_avidemoheight "768"

(That's the res i capture at uncompressed, gets the best detail for resizing and if you want zoom in on a section of the clip, it wont go pixely. Obviously my final render is 640x480.)

Next you need to set at what framerate you want to capture at. Doom 3 being akward does it in increments of 15fps. Default value is 2, which is 30fps, so set to 4 for 60fps and so on.

com_demotics "2"

(i set to 4 and capture at 60fps but render the clip at 30fps. I set the velocity to 200% to get normal speed playback. But having the 60fps means i can have slow motion sections and video will still stay smooth)

Next capturing your actual footage. Now there's 2 ways to do this.. the 1st way is with the avidemo command. What you do is type avidemo demonamehere, it will load the demo and start capturing straight away, to stop type avidemo and it'll go back to the main menu. Obviously no one wants to capture a whole demo or start capturing from the start, so the 2nd option is the one you want.. avigame. Simply type avigame to start capturing, and again to stop. I've made a simple script to start and stop it with one key for ease of use. Another handy option is the ability to set the avigame to create its own folder and place the screenshots in there. All you do is add the folder name you want after avigame, so just set or bind avigame impfrags for example, and a folder called impfrags will be created with the screenshots in there. All avidemo/avigame screenshots are placed in a folder in the base/demos folder, NOT in screenshots.. just incase you lose them If you're running a mod, the screens will be located in the demos folder in the main mid folder.

//avigame capture script -- change all instances of x to the key you want to use. Press once to start capturing, press again to stop.
set startcap "avigame; bind x vstr stopcap"
set stopcap "avigame; bind x vstr startcap"
bind x vstr startcap

Now the Doom 3 capturing process is a slow one, but well worth it in the end. The detail is kept there, your frame rate is guaranteed and you can capture at a high resolution.

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#3  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 3 Zing!
DiMono Site Admin
Video Tricks
How do I crop my video (letterbox) in Windows Movie Maker?
Ok I've seen this posted numerous times in the detailed Machinima FAQ and the Noob thread and I'm Sick of it so heres the Answer:

First get the size (RES) of your video. Now go to Paint and make a picture the size of your Video and paint it all black.
Save it and all that. Now whip out Notepad and copy and paste this:

<TransitionsAndEffects Version="1.0">
<TransitionDLL guid="{DE75D012-7A65-11D2-8CEA-00A0C9441E20}">
<Transition name="A Letterbox" iconid="22">
<Param name="MaskNum" value="22" />
<Param name="Progress" value="0.45" />

Now look at the part in Bold thats the the size of the non-blacked out part in the middle.try out different sizes. Ok save that in C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX. If the AddOnTFX folder isn't there make it. save it. Now open up windows movie maker. Get your Video and your all-Black Picture. go to the transitions and there should be one named letterbox . Make sure you have your video then your picture on the timeline. add the transition to the picture , now grab the picture and drag it into the video and TADA black bars on the top and bottom. happy? for more windows movie maker tips and tricks google Windows movie makers

If you're still kind of fuzzy on it, here's a more step-by-step explanation geared toward Halo 2:
  1. First make an Oddball or CTF Gametype in H2 called Filming.
  2. Change the settings so your motion tracker is Disabled
  3. Record your Video
  4. Create the file described above
  5. Save in C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX. if that folder isn't there make it!
  6. Open up WWM
  7. Edit your movie, Have it finished
  8. Go to "Make Titles and Credits" and "add on selected clip"
  9. Type in - or .
  10. Click on "Change the Text font or colour"
  11. Change colour to Black
  12. Go to "Change Title Animation"
  13. Scroll down until you see "Letterboxing", with the Descrition "Halo 2 letterboxing" select it.
  14. Click on "Done, Add Title to movie"
  15. Go to the Timeline and drag the Title so it fills the length of your Video
  16. Test, and then Export

Okay, so how do I overlay an image in Windows Movie Maker??
Copy and Paste this into Notepad:

<TransitionsAndEffects Version="1.0">
<TransitionDLL guid="{C5B19592-145E-11D3-9F04-006008039E37}" >
<Transition name="Chromawhite" iconid="11">
<Param name="KeyType" value="0" />
<Param name="RGB" value="0xFFFFFF" />

This is like a green screen but its a white screen.This tells WMM to make anything thats pure white Transparant. Save as a XML file in C:\Program Files\Movie Maker\Shared\AddOnTFX , Once again if its not there make it. Now get a snap shot of the positioning of the player so you have a reference. then make a pic of an apron etc. and make everything around it white save as a PNG file. Start up WMM and get the vid and the image on the time line, make the image longer than the vid.add the transition to the image and drag the image into the vid.

What about letterboxing in Adobe using After Effects?
Letterboxing in AE is surprisingly easy. Once you have a sequence ready select all of your keyframes and then all you have to do is select the rectangle tool, set it to black, and just draw two rectangles covering anything on the screen you don't need.

And... Vegas?
Step by step cropping (adding black borders) for Vegas.. on the clip click the Event pan/crop tool icon (there's 2 icons on the clip in the timeline.. the top one is pan/crop). Select the Normal Edit Tool (the arrow above the magnifying glass), you can either use the enable snapping tool (below the magnifying glass) to get consitant black border sizes or freehand it to be more precise. Make sure Lock Aspect Ratio is disabled then adjust the top and bottom of the square to add your borders. If you wanna be flashy, make it half the size of the screen, add a 2nd clip on it own video event below that and do the same... use the track motion to line them up top to bottom and you have duel view split screen.

I'll fool you now. What about VirtualDub?
I suggest leaving this to the end when you come to do your final render, as you'll kill 2 birds with one stone by doing your final encode and adding borders at the same time. When you have your video added to vdub mod, at the top click Video> Filters. Vdub Mod is weird as in you have to use a filter in conjunction with the crop option. So i suggest using something handy like HSV adjust so you can add a slight bit of saturation to bring the colour out better. So click Add, then add HSV adjust, once added, you will be able to click the Cropping button now on the same window. Set your top and bottom cropping values and that's you done. Do your final render now and the borders will be in place.

Alright, Pinnacle Studio 9?
If you upgrade to Studio 9 Plus for $39, you'll be able to do the multiple video tracks to make the letterboxing simple, and getting rid of the crosshair is easy if you use the filming Easter egg in Halo 2. Details are listed in a couple of threads here.

How do I record from TV to my camcorder?
First make sure that you have your video/audio jacks on the output slots of your tv. The with the camera on, click the menu button. Find a submenu titled 'Video Input'. Another submenu should open, and change input from 'Camera' to 'Line'. It should work, and if not, read your manual that came with the camera. It should tell you how to record off another AV device.

Why does my video quality suck so much?
DarkangelUK wrote this:
How To Get Good Quality In Your Movie

ok, i thought i'd post a small how to on getting the best you can from your codec at a small filesize. This will try and eliminate grain, pixelation and artifacts from your videos.

The settings included in this guide are for the wmv9 codec, but 1st some tips.

FRAPS is good and all, and the perfect app for capturing content off console games. But if you're using a PC game, then see what other methods exist before using FRAPS. Most PC games contain avi capturing methods that can provide higher quality capturing and is generally more stable.

FRAPS: If you have to use fraps, then try and capture at the highest resolution possible. By this i mean as high a resolution that is still stable to work with, not as high as FRAPS can capture. The more detail included, the better the over picture will be. A high res will not effect the overall size of your final video.

PC Games: Most 1st person shooter PC games allow you to record demos of gameplay (Gearbox should be shot for not including this in Halo PC), so recording your scenes to demo 1st then capturing is a whole lot easier. Alot of fps games have mods that can help in movie making, Q3A has Defrag, RTCW has EDV, Enemy Territory has ET Pro etc. Always set your graphics to highest when capturing footage, this will again make your video quality much better to look at.

Media Enhancements: What you do with your footage before creating your final render can make alot of difference too. Most video editing apps contain filters to enhance the video. The ones i can suggest using are increasing the saturation, brightness and contrast and upping the sharpness. Nothing major, just slight adjustments to up the quality and bring out the detail.

Final Render: You will always get better quality from a 2-pass encode. The less times you render a clip before the final encode the better, you loose some detail each time you render.Always keep the original resolution when editing your vid until it comes to the final render. When you come to your final render, set your output resolution to 640x480. Below is the settings i use in wmv9, they give excellent results and keep the filesize low.

In the bottom peramater box in the wmv9 configuration screen, enter the following values.
-v_interlace 0 -v_frameratedown 1:1 -v_mode 3 -v_bitrate 83886080 -v_firstpass C:\stpass.tmp -v_keydist 8000 -v_profile CP -v_performance 100

In the bitrate box, set the value to 1398101, and in the drop down box above it, set it to Two-pass bit rate VBR.

Now do your final encode and that should be it.

Props to WaryWolf for the settings research.

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#4  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Cool
DiMono Site Admin
Katyara's Tips for Good Voice Over Work

Being in the "biz" I thought I would just chime in with a few tips to help all of you in your voice over efforts :)

1) Slow down - I really can't stress this enough. Burnie said it best when he stated that you should speak 10% to 15% slower than you do normally. It might sound dumb to you while you're recording but the audience will understand you that much better. Take your time and slow it down.

2) Enunciate - Now don't overdo it here, you don't want to sound like that synth voice on the Mac, but you must have a good command of the english language and be able to enunciate your words to be clearly understood. Speaking slower on the whole will help with this but there are several tricky words that need special attention. Multi-syllabic words and groups of words that end and begin with the same letter need to be done cleanly. Just be sure to finish your words and you'll be golden.

3) Get a good mic - The better the mic the better the recording quality. You don't have to spend $100 or anything but a good digital mic/headset with noise reduction is going to be way better than that Vi-Tech-put-it-on-your-desk-next-to-your-speakers-boom-mic that you got free with your desktop conputer bundle.

4) Put the mic anywhere but in front of your mouth - Above or off the corner works best. This will reduce the pop's and hisses Sev refers to. If you have a lot of money to throw around, go ahead and get a stereo mic and a wind screen. If not, just move the mic around until you don't "red line" anymore while recording.

Speaking of red lining...

5) Watch the recording monitor - Depending on which program you use to record you should have a recording monitor you can look at. It's basically little green dots that dance up and down as you speak. if you hit the red you're recording level is typically too hot. Pull the level down or move the mic and bit and try again.

6) Practice - Say your lines until you can just about commit them to memory. This will help with your delivery and make you more comfortable. You'll be amazed at the results!

7) Don't be afraid to do multiple takes - Your audio editor will be able to splice and dice your takes to pick the best ones out.

8) Have fun and Ad lib - Some of the funniest stuff commited to film has been the result of ad libbing. if you're feeling it go for it!

Please, feel free to add to this list. What is represented above are just a few hits I can impart to all of you! Happy recording all!


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#5  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
DiMono Site Admin
Audio Questions
What programs can I use to record audio (besides Windows Sound Recorder)?
Audacity (Free)
GoldWave (Trial, 55$)
WavePad (Free)
Blaze Audio (Trial, 39.95$)

How do you do the Helmet Radio effect?
Pull your recorded voice into a sound editor like Sound Forge or the freeware Audacity editor. Apply a graphic EQ effect to it where you boost the frequency sliders for the 1kHz-3kHz bands to the max and bottom out all the others. If you have Pinnacle Studio 9, use the Grungelizer plugin.

We have voice actors all over the country/world. How do we make their dialogue sound like they were all in the same room?
The Helmet Radio effect covers a multitude of sins because it's such a narrow bandpass, but the real villain is varying volume levels. The solution is a process called normalization. This boosts the quiet bits and softens the loud bits. You may have to do it on a file-by-file basis instead of normalizing the entire soundtrack because some files might be really quiet while others blow out your eardrums. It's much better to record soft and boost in the sound editor than record loud. That usually introduces "clipping", and it's pretty much unfixable.

I get all these loud "pops" and "hisses" when people say a world that starts with P or S. What's the deal?
This is the curse of plosives and sibilants. Microphones have to be very sensitive to detect the vibrating air coming off your vocal chords. When you start a word with a "P" (plosive), though, you're blowing a lot of air through your lips in an instant. This is way more than the mic element is designed for, so you get a "pop". It's the same when blowing air through your teeth for an "S" (sibilant), you get a loud "hiss". The solution is not to position the mic right in front of your mouth when you speak. Move it off to the side and you won't be blowing air directly into the mic on plosives and sibilants. You can also stuff the mic under your t-shirt to use it as a windscreen.

I need to buy a new microphone. what kind should I get?
A good noise-canceling mic. I got a Logitech, cost me $20. Check the audio thread stickied in here for a discussion.

Should I record audio over XBox Live?
No. No you should not. Shame on you.

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#6  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 3 Zing!
DiMono Site Admin
Halo questions
How do you get rid of the HUD/gunsight/weapon arm?
On Halo Xbox, you don't. That's why RvB under Halo 1 is letterboxed so heavily.

On Halo PC, you need a mod like the Halo Video Kit (google it) or throw DarkLink a couple of PayPal bucks and beg him for his vastly superior mods.

On Halo PC/CE, you can use the Debug Camera, but you can only have one player visible.

(instructions to follow.)

How do I use the Debug Camera in Halo CE?
Right-click on your Desktop shortcut to "Halo Custom Edition" and go to Properties.

Change your Target to look like this:
"D:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Halo Custom Edition\haloce.exe" -console -devmode
substituting your drive letter/path and making sure that the -console and -devmode switches are outside the final quotation mark. Click OK.

Now double click on the icon to start HaloCE. When it comes up, go to Multiplayer. You'll see all options shaded out except LAN. Pick it. Pick a map and a game type.

Once the game starts, run out to somewhere you want to start filming.

Hit the '~' key immediately to the left of the '1' key. This opens the console. Type the following, except for the stuff in parentheses.

debug_camera_save (this locks the debug camera to your helmet position.)
debug_camera_load (this activates the camera instead of your visor)

Hit the ~ key again to close the console. Your view should look weird since the camera is now inside the model's helmet. Hold down your mouse wheel and press the W key to move the camera forward a bit, then turn the mouse with the wheel still held down to look back at your character. That's all there is to it.

As soon as you let the wheel go, the movement commands move the Master Chief. Press down again, and it moves the camera. Remember that you're looking at yourself in a mirror now, so stepping left will move the model right in the camera view, and vice versa. Takes a little getting used to, but if all you're doing is standing there fliming head-bob, it's a snap.

To return to normal mode, open the console with the ~ key again, then type

camera_control 1 (camera starts flying off the map)
camera_control 0 (camera snaps back to your visor)

Hit the ~ key again to close the console, and you're back to normal.

You can type debug_camera_load into the console at any time after you've saved it and the camera will jump back to the last spot you saved it. This is good for when you don't want the background to move but you need to switch armor colors to complete the scene. Just make sure you run your new armor over to the filming area before you do debug_camera_load or else it will be hard to navigate your way over there.

In Halo 2 you start an oddball game with plasma pistol as the primary weapon and no secondary weapon. Overcharge the plasma pistol, then pick up the oddball, then drop it. Voila, no weapon. Be careful where you step though, because if you walk over a weapon you will automatically pick it up.

How do I do all the machinima-goodness in Halo 2?
Curtis (of BC fame, and a frequent guest star on SvF) discovered that if you push down on the directional pad (not the joysticks) it toggles weapon up/down. This works on most of the pistols and rifles, but not on the big weapons like the rocket launcher or Sentinel beam, nor does it work when dual-wielding, but those are minor quibbles. The big plus is that the actors no longer have to look at their feet in order to head-bob with their weapons out of the way.

You can either letterbox over the HUD or go into non-scoped Zoom mode (click right thumbstick while a non-zoom weapon is equipped.) This gives you a 2x through-the-visor view with no HUD information and no weapons/arms visible. The visor mask is a bit distracting, but if you frame all your shots inside the center area, you can zoom into that rectangle in most of the better video editors.

In order to make the head bobbing go a little easier, set your controller sensitivity away from the default value of 3, and put it on 6 or higher.

Xbox Live makes getting a group together to film a lot easier, so it's now as simple as it is on Halo PC.

In Halo and Halo 2 whenever you target another player their name appears above their head. How is this gotten rid of?
To remove the names, use all spaces as player names, 1 space for one player, 2 spaces for the next, and so on. This won't work on XboxLive, but works on System Link games. Use periods or apostrophes on Halo PC.

If you want to be crafty in Halo PC you can open a Hex Editor and edit the names of your players to show a non displayable character in place of a period or apostrophe. This allows you to completely remove the player names.

How do I get rid of those "Player 1 has been killed by Player 2" messages?
Some people have had success doing this by uninstalling the Microsoft XML Parser. You don't get any messages like that, including messages from other players. This is also good for when you're playing online with your buddies. If you get a TS2 server going, you can talk to them but you don't have to worry about the spamming n00bs saying "YOU FUCKING HACKER! I'M REPORTING YOU TO THE ADMIN!!! HE'S MY BEST FRIEND!" or whatever.

What weapon should I use to record my Halo footage with?
It depends on what game you are recording off of. For Halo 2 the recommended weapon to use for recording footage is easily the Sentinal Beam. It has the lowest cross-hairs of all weapons and is easy to cover up in the editing stage. For the original Halo the most recommended gun is the human Pistol. Its cross-hairs are not so noticable and it's the lowest weapon.

In Halo 2, is there a way to get someone who isn't red or blue next to the bomb?
Apparently you can go to team slayer and change to the appropriate color (Pink for Donut with the bomb, for instance) to form two teams that may or may not consist of red or blue. Then switch back to assault. You will retain your colors. Notice it says form two teams, not form a red team and a blue team. You can have one brown team and one pink team if you want.

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#7  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
DiMono Site Admin
Machinimist's Copyright FAQ Originally posted by dark54555:

Q: What is a copyright?
A: I could give you the long answer, but basically it's the author's right to a work.

Q: Do I have to register a copyright to get protection?
A: Long story short, no. However, registered works recieve a much higher level of protection and remove the burden to prove you wrote something and when.

Q: What do I do to register my work?
A: This is a multi-part answer.
  • Scripts
    This is probably what, in reality, you'll be protecting (more on that later). To register a script, go to Click on "Literary Works." Read the instructions, fill out the form (odds are you qualify for the short form), package everything up and send it in. Then wait for the certificate. That's all there is to it.
  • The Voice Track
    You can also register the vocal recording, if you like. It's a sound recording. Again, follow the instructions.
  • The Actual Video
    Here's where things get tricky. There's no good case law I know of on this, but more than likely, because you're using a pre-rendered engine, the video itself qualifies as a derivative work. In which case, you need permission of the copyright owner to register it. (i.e. Microsoft/Bungie for Halo, EA for Sims 2) And who knows if you'll ever get it. More than likely, the only time this will pose a real problem is if you start profiting and such. For all intensive purposes, don't bother trying to register the video itself. If you really want to get into this, it's a Performing Arts work. Instructions are on the site as well.
Q: What does it cost
A: $30 per registration. For example, if you want to register a script and the voice track, it will be $60.

Q: Do I ever have to renew the copyright?
A: No. Past 1978, new works never have to be renewed.

Q: How long does the copyright last?
A: Life of the author + 70 years. So if I had a copyright and died tomorrow, the copyright is valid until March 21, 2075.

Q: I live outside the US. What do I do?
A: Sorry, I don't have quite all the answers. Look up your country's copyright office. If your country has internet access, they probably have a copyright office and a web site. Canadain Copyright Stuff (courtesy Lopez_55)

Q: I'm planning on making a series and would like to know more about the copyright rules before i release it. Specificaly i need to know about the copyrights on the video aspect and the game companies rights.
A: The game companies own the copyright to the game. That means they control rights to its use. When you buy it, you're essentially buying a liscense for personal use, i.e. playing at home. When a for profit or publication side enters in, you're infringing on their copyright. It's like how a bar owner has to pay to play music in the bar he owns, or how those guys who write the books set in the Star Wars universe need Lucas's permission to use the universe and characters he created. Make sense?

Basically, you'd have to ask the game company for permission to use the game. Just go to their site, send them an e-mail telling them what you'd like to do and ask to have it directed to someone in the legal department. Make sure to get any permission IN WRITING. With their permission, you can theoretically register the copyright with no problem. Without their permission, you face some serious copyright infringement lawsuits.

Originally posted by kentnichols:
You can also register most intellectual property online at It's not a copyright, but it does put a time and place on when something is created. I don't send out any of my scripts until I register it there. It's $20, and takes five minutes.

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#8  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
DiMono Site Admin
All About Music Rights Originally posted by slick8086:

I know you are all just chomping at the bit to play by the rules and get legal permission to use other other peoples music in your work so I thought I'd post this info. I needed it for another project I'm working on but I thought that you folks might be interested. This information comes from The ASCAP FAQ

A: If you are using a pre-recorded song or another pre-recorded piece of music in your film, there are two rights you need to clear; that is to say, you need to get two different licenses to use the music.
  1. Synchronization License: This is the right to synchronize a song or a piece of music with your visual image. It must be obtained from the copyright owner of the music, which is usually the publisher. You can find out who the publisher is by using ASCAP's Clearance Express (ACE). Songs that are not represented by ASCAP might be found at the National Music Publishers' Association "Songfile" website ( will be provided with a contact at the publisher's Business Affairs or Licensing Department.
  2. Master Use License: This is the right to reproduce a specific recording of a song in your film. You clear this right with the record label who owns the specific recording you would like to use; see the liner notes of the recording to find out which company this is. Alternatively, you can get contact information for record labels by calling ASCAP's Film/TV Department. You will be provided with a contact at the record label's Business Affairs Department.
Now you only need both licenses if you are using a recording that some one else owns... so if you want to play it yourself or get your friends to then you only need #1.

Q: Does this apply to a non-profit use of a song as well?
A: Distribution is distribution even if you're not making any money... If some one feels that they've incurred enough damages because you used their material without permission, you can bet they will sue you. That's why people are getting popped for file sharing. (that and the RIAA + MPAA are dicks)

It is not that hard to write a letter and ask. If you tell them specifically what you are doing and the intended audience and that you're not looking to make any money there is a possibility the will give you a license.

Also it costs money to sue. Unless they are trying to make an example it doesn't seem likely that most big companies would sue for a machinima unless you were making money.

If you want music and you can't make it yourself, check out Garage Band. There are a TON of bands there that are eager for exposure, and will let you use their music for free.

ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)
RIAA (jerks)
Sound FX Samples from Apple

Originally posted by HatHead:
In the US there are 3 performing rights organizations for obtaining master licenses. In addition to ASCAP, there is BMI and SESAC

I worked at SOCAN, Canada's performing rights organization and they do what ASCAP et al do in the US. In fact, there are performing rights organizations in pretty much every country in the world

These performing rights organizations can tell you who the publishers are so you can obtain a synchronization licence. There are also some licensing clearing houses. In Canada there is the CMRRA which administers synch licenses for many publishers for example.

If you plan to go commercial with your machinima that uses someone's else's music at any time in the future and don't have the paperwork, they will go after you. If you just plan to keep your machinima underground, then you will most likely be fine. Most likely.

Do not forget that some websites generate revenue - through advertising or helping to sell more of a product (i.e. thesims2eacom, even RT sells sponsorships and merch) - and one could easily and successfully argue that any work posted there is therefore commercial.
Most likely the website will receive an order to stop this violation and change its rules for hosting machinimas

I don't wanna sound all nasty - I have worked in the business and have some first-hand knowledge. Hope this helpful.

Also, in addition to GarageBand for getting 'free' music for your work, NewGrounds has an audio portal with people writing music for public use. Well almost again - it is supposed to be for flash artists on the site but it is easy enough to browse the library and get in touch directly with the composer if you find something you like.

another good site for music that is not copyright'ed but copyleft'ed! - opsound

Originally posted by zegron:
Basically Fair use is determined by the following four factors: This paragraph comes from written by Robin D. Gross.

The copyright statute lists four factors to balance together on a case-by-case basis to determine if a particular use would be considered fair. The law's language does not preclude consideration of other factors however. The factors to consider include:
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes -- Courts are more likely to find fair use where the use is for noncommercial purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work -- A particular use is more likely to be fair where the copied work is factual rather than creative.
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole -- A court will balance this factor toward a finding of fair use where the amount taken is small or insignificant in proportion to the overall work.
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work -- If the court finds the newly created work is not a substitute product for the copyrighted work, it will be more likely to weigh this factor in favor of fair use.
Due to the difficulty in determining exactly when the fair use privilege would allow you to exercise one of the rights otherwise reserved for the copyright holder (and the penalties for guessing incorrectly can be extremely costly, even including jail time), it is wise to consult experienced counsel as well as to review previous judicial opinions where courts have analyzed whether a particular use would qualify as fair.

Some examples of what is and isn't fair use can be found at Stanford's Law web site.

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#9  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 6 Cool
DiMono Site Admin
Red vs Blue questions
Why won't RoosterTeeth answer my emails about my series?
They have a policy that they do not comment on Halo machinima good or bad. This is not a restriction from Microsoft, but rather the result of some bad experiences and misunderstandings early on that caused some people to get their feelings hurt. Rather than do that again unintentionally, they do not comment on fan-based stuff. It might rule, it might suck, but they'd rather not be the ones to say so.

How'd they get 2 different color armored characters in the Warthog using Halo 1?
Splitscreen trick/optical illusion. For the closeup, you film one person getting in, then he gets out and the other one gets in a different position. This is called compositing. As long as nothing else in the scene moves, you can use a video editor to overlay half of one shot onto the other so it appears two people got in at the same time. For another example, see the opening to either Sponsors vs. Freeloaders episode. I used the same trick to act out both parts of the "co-ordinated attack" speech as well as the blue/white guys in KaZZaP's speech using the Halo CE debug camera, then overlaid the two in Sony Vegas 5.

For the times when the warthog was moving, they took advantage of the fact that the Reds are fairly close together armor-color wise. If you show the closeup with different colors, then do a quick cut to where it's speeding away, you don't really notice that they're all Red in the motion shots.

Do you need any more voice actors for Red vs. Blue?
While I cannot speak for RoosterTeeth, the diplomatic answer is "Don't call them, they'll call you." (Don't actually wait for the call, though. Odds are high that it just ain't comin'.)

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#10  Posted 9 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 6 Zing!
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