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Cinema from Video Games, April 23

April 18, 2008 – Video games aren’t just for play anymore. On Wednesday, April 23, University of Utah students will screen short animated films they made using video games – a technique known as “machinima,” or machine cinema.

One student film – “The Passion of the McCain” – is a political satire about an imaginary affair between presidential hopefuls John McCain and Hillary Clinton. It recently was entered in the Ivy Film Festival Machinima Competition at Brown University in Rhode Island.

The University of Utah’s School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program will hold the second annual Machinima Festival to showcase how the University of Utah is on the cutting edge of technology arts. 

The public and news media are invited to attend the April 23 event, which is free, and will run from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. MDT in Orson Spencer Hall’s WPRA Auditorium.

“The screening at the festival will have an eclectic mixture of films: a 19th-century mystery in an old mansion, a western spoof, an Edgar Alan Poe poem and many others,” says Professor Robert Kessler, instructor of the machinima class. “Machinima Fest represents the type of interdisciplinary work between engineers and artists that has put the University of Utah on the technology roadmap. Through traditional 3-D animation, artists take several years to make a movie, but using video game animation, students can make them in a semester.”

“Offering classes in machinima puts us with the handful of elite schools that are ahead of the curve in terms of technology arts education,” says Roger Altizer, a professor teaching video game courses in the university’s film studies division. “Not only do film students work with computer science students to make videogames, machinima and 3-D animation, but our faculty collaborate with computer science faculty to teach courses and provide resources for students pursuing a career in the digital arts.”

Recognizing the leadership role the University of Utah plays in technology and entertainment arts, Disney Interactive Studios representatives will attend the student film event to present the School of Computing with a $20,000 gift for undergraduate student scholarships, supporting a summer camp on computer graphics and a distinguished lecture series in digital media.

“We are pleased to support the School of Computing and the Entertainment Arts and Engineering program,” says Rob Nelson, director of technology at Disney Interactive’s Avalanche Software, a video game developer. “This is just the beginning of what we anticipate will be a long and mutually beneficial relationship.”

Salt Lake City has experienced significant growth in entertainment arts production with several video game studios opening branches in town. One of the many reasons is the high quality of students graduating from the University of Utah.

“Spy Game” machinima film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=II2rnRuzqfs

“The Passion of the McCain” film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voxJHeI2UjM

“Poor Computer Student” film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEkTBX8hkIw

Other UU machinima films: http://www.youtube.com/user/uumachinima

For more information, please visit:

Machinima Fest 2008:  http://www.cs.utah.edu/info/machinima.shtml

Entertainment Arts and Engineering Program:  http://www.eae.utah.edu/