by Peter Rasmussen

Archive for March, 2007

Industry Screening

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 30, 2007

Last night we had our cast and crew screening of Stolen Life. In the time leading up to the screening the projectionist was being very thorough. He wanted to do some last minute tweaking to the sound and picture. Lucas our mixer had arrived early, which was great. He and the projectionist made a few minor adjustments to make it like baby bear’s porridge “Just right”. I was starting to think about everyone who was about to arrive. In my head I was going “Just leave it”.

Everyone’s in and seated. Instead of the dreaded long speech Jackie and I chose this moment to give Phillip the award from the Machinima Film Festival in New York. Paul Marino had brought it over to give to us at the festival in Melbourne. We were going to do the whole “envelope please” thing but we skipped it an got on with showing the movie.

Sitting there in the dark.
With a comedy it’s easy. If they laugh at the gags it’s good if they don’t laugh at the gags it’s bad. Stolen life has humour in it but there are no thigh slappers. So I’m listening to the audience. What does that sound mean? Is this scene working? Are they getting it? The applause cut in at the beginning of the credits.

We’re in the foyer. Film industry fans aren’t necessarily sci-fi fans, but they all got it. They were excited. They were into the characters and into the story. Someone herded us somewhere. We’re in the pub. A friend kept buying me drinks. I kept drinking them. Rude not to.

A fan overseas connected us with Mat who lives in Sydney. It was great to meet another genuine Tex Murphy fan. We talked for quite a while. Mat has been doing a kind of fan fiction in the form of radio plays inspired by the Tex Murphy radio plays. Before that he had no special interest in sound work now he’s doing sound design professionally.

I enjoyed introducing people to Maurice who does research with real robots at the University of New South Wales. He seemed to really get into the movie.

Cards were exchanged people wanted copies of the DVD to show to people. Piazza was eaten. Having gone so well with a non sci-fi audience I’m really looking forward to seeing how much hard-boiled sci-fi fans get out of it.

Stolen Life is a feature length Machinima movie starring Claudia Black of Stargate and Farscape and Chris Jones of Tex Murphy.


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Mad Bomber In Love

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 29, 2007

How to make a no budget movie. You can’t get money but you can get stuff. A few years ago I worked on a film “Mad Bomber In Love”. We called it a “No budget movie”. It was at a time when the industry was extremely quiet so we ended up getting a lot of people keen to work on it. The crew were experienced professionals who had worked on features but not as head of department. They saw it as an opportunity.

We found very quickly that getting money from companies was like getting blood from a stone. But it was much easier to get stuff from them. That’s what they’ve got lots of, warehouses full of it. Stuff as far as the eye can see. In this way we got a house to shoot in, all manner of props, even scuba gear in exchange for sponsoring credits on the film.

The caterer could not make the last two days of the shoot. The cinematographer was at a dinner where one of the other guests was an executive of a new domestic airline. When told about our entrepreneurial project he said, “If there is any way I can help.” So the last two days of the shoot we were eating airline food. It was okay.

I’ve been trying to break in to writing for games. As a way of approaching that I’ve been trying to get work writing about games. I offered a couple of articles to Just Adventure, a web site dedicated to adventure video games.

Randy Sluganski who runs Just Adventure offered me the option of banner advertising for Stolen Life in exchange for a couple of articles. Perfect timing

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Future Noir

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 28, 2007

 Stolen Life is future noir or film noir in a science fiction landscape.

Blade Runner 

“Future Noir” was first coined in the title of a book by that name about the making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon. Blade Runner of course is the stunning Ridley Scott film based on the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, by Philip K. Dick.

It surprises me how few titles have been made in this genre.

There’s a profusion of Gothic sci-fi akin to Matrix and sci-fi horror like Alien. Many genres have been combined with sci-fi to great success. Why so little future noir?

It’s a refreshing use of the science fiction universe. As thrilling and excellent as the action genres can be they tend to focus on activity and outcomes in the external world. Noir while still being cinematic can be much more internal and evocative.

Tex Murphy 

Many interactive adventures have taken on film noir. A detective story is well suited to interactivity. The only future noir interactive I know of is the “Tex Murphy” series of adventures. Set in 2042 after World War III in the area of what used to be San Francisco, society is divided into Norms and Mutants. A Norm himself, Tex prefers the company of mutants – the new underclass.

Tex Murphy web site

Rocket Squad

The very first instance of future noir on the screen would have to be “Rocket Squad” (1956)
Daffy Duck and Porky Pig star as Sgt Joe Monday and his partner Detective Shmoe Tuesday. This is a spoof of the old radio show and television series “Dragnet”. When a bank is robbed, the two are dispatched to solve the crime. Their prime suspect is George ‘Mother’ Machree.

Rocket Squad in screenshots (site not in English)

And now we have Stolen Life

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Infrastructure in Space

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 27, 2007


The thing that’s been missing from space exploration is infrastructure. Everything so far has been one off missions.

They use the term “infrastructure” when they talk about new bits they are going to stick on the International Space station but these bits will only serve the space station which is going to be trashed pretty much as soon as it’s finished.

There have been some stunning missions over the last few years but they are persistently one off. They regularly accumulate valuable data but they are single purpose missions. Only the data is passed on.

In the next couple of years all manner of hardware will be hurled around and onto Mars. Exciting probes like the Mars Science Laboratory will be landed to gather samples and test them on site.

One mission that does not get so much attention is Mars Telesat, which will be put into high orbit around Mars in 2009. This would seem to be the very first step in actual “away from Earth” dedicated infrastructure. It’s not taking pictures; it’s not digging in the dirt. It’s only there to take messages. So that’s what it does really well. It’s like a local telephone exchange. But not any telephone exchange, the first one around another planet. So far all communications have had to be handled by a probe whose main mission was something else; pictures, air, dirt.

These transmissions have been received directly by Earth bound dishes. So far we’ve been communicating with these expensive missions with the equivalent of dial up. With Mars Telesat suddenly we’ve got broad band with real grunt. It’s at Mars for ALL the Mars missions that are able to use it. So each of those missions is suddenly more effective and faster.

This is a whole new tilt on space exploration.
Conceivably Mars Telesat or something like it could also aid the missions at Jupiter and Saturn and beyond.

My point is that if infrastructure were given more emphasis we would have a stronger foundation to get more bang per buck from many future missions.

The picture at the top of this post is of the Mars Global Surveyor. There are all sorts of pictures of it all over the place. I could not find one of Mars Telesat.

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Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 26, 2007


It’s the ultimate virtual interface for your feet. I want one. VirtuSphere is what I’ve been waiting for in video games since my first kapow in Bungie’s Marathon. It’s a hollow ball about three metres in diameter. You put on your virtual reality headgear, you get inside it and you run, walk or whatever in any direction you want. It’s the wide screen experience for your feet. All I need is a house to put it in and the “green” to buy one. I believe they’re still expensive at the moment but the construction is so elegantly simple I can see the price coming down so we can all have one.

It’s probably a good idea to wipe your feet before you use it otherwise whatever you trod in outside might end up in your hairdo.


Man in circle

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Stolen Life Newsletter

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 25, 2007

Hello again all

The machinima film festival at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne was a great success. On the Saturday we spoke on a panel about writing for games. On the Sunday we screened the trailer and gave a sort of tag team presentation of a case study on the making of Stolen Life.

We did interviews with a local alternative-music radio station and with a magazine who were great fans of Chris Jones and the Tex Murphy series.

It was great to finally meet Paul Marino who runs the New York Machinima Film Festival. And to meet other machinima makers who ranged from avant-guard artists to the creators of the wildly popular Red vs Blue series.

On 29 March Stolen Life will premiere at the cool and groovy Chauvel Cinema in Sydney. This is a cast and crew and industry screening. It will be great to finally show off the entire film to a real audience. This will coincide with some exclusive screenings in other cities around the world.

Also very exciting, Jackie is one of three finalists chosen to present a concept for an interactive adventure at a game conference at Carne. We will also be exploring opportunities to network with potential distributors for stolen Life there. More on that later.


Peter and Jackie

Stolen Life

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Spare Clever Things

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 25, 2007


Weather you’re a Renaissance man or a jack of all trades there’s only enough time for so many ideas in one life. What do you do with extra ideas you don’t have time to pursue?

A while ago now I figured out a really simple way of using robots to build habitats on a planet out of the local dust before the travellers arrived. I made a little animation to show how it worked. There is a one-minute movie clip and a brief outline at:

But you can’t be an inventor and make films. You have to choose. That is unless you’re Howard Hughs. Getting an invention to see the light of day takes just as much energy as getting a film made. I know that there’s a scientist somewhere who would find it useful if only to provoke ideas. But it takes so much time and effort just to find them.

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Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 24, 2007

I love being part of the sci-fi community.

After the success of Angel the Buffy spin-off there was a rumour of Anthony Head who plays Rupert Giles (Buffy’s watcher) starring in a mystic detective series set in England. I was disappointed when it failed to materialise.

I remember in an interview he wanted the chance to play a villein in the unpredictable universe of the Buffy series.

I finally got my hands on the second season of Doctor Who. There he is. And what a magnificent villein he makes. That wonderful stillness, that steely eye. The way it played out there is every chance his character might go on to being a serious nemesis. Every now and then they get it right.

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The Puzzles in Adventure Games Puzzle

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 23, 2007

Recently I was helping a friend with an outline for a video game. She asked me to make a list of my favourite puzzles.

I started to read the walkthrough for Grim Fandango to make the list. I remember the puzzles in it were excellent. The thing is the best puzzles can’t just be stuck in. It’s like good writing. The reason that the puzzles in Grim Fandango are so good is that they have been made in the context of the story. They are still absurd enough to not be obvious but they are tailored from the stuff of the story itself.

Even Grim Fandango is a series of locks and keys. But with Grim Fandango it’s never literally a lock and never literally a key. And often both the lock and the key are made up of a number of parts you would never expect to go together.

A comprehensive fan site

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Male Restroom Etiquette

Posted by Peter Rasmussen on March 23, 2007

Male Restroom Etiquette 

Description: All men of the world can find common ground in these simple rules of “evacuation” etiquette.

This is one of my favourite movies from the machinima film festival. I don’t know if it’s gender-biased humour or if I was just in a good mood, but the dry delivery in this ten-minute movie works so well.

Male Restroom Etiquette

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