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Movies, Movies, Movies!

Thursday, December 23, 2004 - 22:40

Now you can rank the movies pod on a MySims page. When you're done voting, head on over to the new Movies area in the Community Section and check out our interview with movie-director extraordinaire, MaxisPlumbob.

Action!


Kerie Kimbrell, aka. MaxoidPlumbob, is Maxis' in house film editor. Today she discusses makin' movies with MaxoidMonkey!

MaxoidMonkey: MaxoidPlumbob, How did you get involved in filmmaking? And how long have you been doing it?
MaxoidPlumbob: I started out as an apprentice editor 16 years ago. We edited on film then and part of my job was to organize the film. I would literally hand the editor each shot as they needed it. I loved it. It was a great way to learn.

MM: Tell us what makes a good movie.
MP: Interesting characters, a good story and nice camera work are things I like in a movie.

MM: Since the best movies always have a great story, do you have any tips and pointers for creating a good story?
MP: There needs to be a beginning a middle and an end to the story. A good story usually shows a main character with a challenge or conflict. Also, The beginning of the movie should introduce the setting and give some background information about the main character. In the Middle you can start to show scenes that set up the main character's challenge or conflict and that help build suspense for the movie. These scenes should build in intensity to the climax of the movie. Think of the climax as the part where action is the most intense, where we wonder what will happen next. At the end of the climax you will have a turning point where the suspense ends, and the main character's conflict is resolved, At this point you still might need to explain other plot points. After that comes the ending. In the end you need to show something that gives a sense of closure and that brings the movie to conclusion. It can be something like the beginning but that shows a change in the main character.

MM: Sometimes the most difficult part of making a movie is the ending. Do you have any good tips on how to wrap up the story lines proposed throughout a movie? How do you go about creating a satisfying conclusion?
MP: I would start by writing down what your main characters struggle or conflict is in the movie, then think about whether your ending makes sense and if it provides a sense of closure and sets the right mood.

Some endings are "open ended" where the view has to decide for themselves what has happened or "closed ended" where the movie maker has made the connections and it is clear to the viewer what has happened. A "cliffhanger" is an abrupt ending, often at the height of the excitement and ending with a title card reading "to be continued". This type of ending would need to be followed up with another movie that has a ending. Eventually you need an ending.

MM: Got some pointers for creating a good movie?
MP: Try and write down the idea for your movie in 1 or 2 sentences. Make sure it has a beginning, middle and an end. All of your scenes should tell a part of the story and move the story forward. Try not to include a scene that doesn't provide any new information for the viewer.

MM: When you're creating movies for Maxis, what is your process?
MP: First, we write down treatment that includes the characters, and the story with the beginning, middle and end. Then we start building the set and the characters in the game and grabbing still frames of camera angles that we think will work for each scene. Next, we print up all the frames and put them on a wall and rework the order until we think it's right. This gives us a chance to change our minds and come up with new ideas before we start trying to capture. After we capture, I'll start editing but will usually decide that I need more footage and we'll re-capture some scenes from different angles.

MM: What sort of cheats or methods do you use to 'get the right shot'? Do you use cheats or methods that are different from what the users have?
MP: Sometimes we set key positions for the camera and jump between them to get some motion in the shot and still have the framing be nice. I will also capture the scene a little wide so that I can blow it up later to get the composition just right. I don't think I have any cheats that the community doesn't have, well, except for a money cheat to help build.

MM: How long does it usually take you to create a movie of 2 minutes in length?
MP: It depends on how complicated the story gets but usually around 2 days to capture and another day to edit. The sound crew can usually pull additional sound effects and do a mix with music in about 1/2 day. I don't do everything. There are usually several people working on a movie.

MM: What are the challenges you encounter in create movies with the sims 2?
MP: Getting the sims to do what you want them to. It's definitely an amusing and sometimes frustrating process. Sometimes we lock them in a room or make them sleep so they won't disrupt the shot if they're not in it. I think it's funny when you try and get one sim to kiss another and they get slapped because you haven't got them in the right mood. Or If you've forgotten to turn off "free will" and you have 2 sims in a hot tub and you want them to kiss but then a 3rd sim appears out of no where, gets in and starts making moves on one of your other sims. It can be pretty crazy. We like to yell "cut", like we're on a movie set, when they mess up. Sometimes the camera frustrates me too. It isn't always as smooth as I would like it.

MM: Thankyou for the great advice, MaxoidPlumbob!

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