Tortoise Butler launches a site of its own

TortoiseButlerSite

The delightful crew that I make films with on a regular basis and who have taught me everything I know has launched a lovely little site housing our short films and a blog written by the film crew.

Keep your eyes peeled for posts that will be going up over the next few weeks (my first post about creepy film locations is already up) and a new film that should be going live next week after we finish another 48 hour film challenge!

The main site can be found here: Tortoise Butler

Legitimate Critic

I have a problem whenever I review things.  There is an inner monologue that I seem to maintain that repeats the phrase “Who am I to say this?” over and over again driving me into a guilt spiral if I’ve been asked to review something that I deem to be not-very-good.

As far as I am concerned, the best critics have a deeper understanding of whatever it is they are critiquing.  As my field at the moment is predominantly games, I have a wide range of peers to look to for inspiration or despair.   As an example of a good critic, Yahtzee from Zero Punctuation is someone I appreciate not because of his oft hilarious turn of phrase but because I always feel he has a grounding of knowing what he’s talking about.  He can be pedantically critical, but that’s the best way to help a medium improve and it is always very clear just how much he loves the games he reviews.  Most importantly for me, his understanding has come from his contribution to the Indie games field and he has self published several titles and following his blog will reveal that he often works on several more that never see the light of day due to a mix of inertia, lack of time, or a realisation that the idea was better on paper.

Other reviewers also tend to read better in my opinion when they have game design experience.  The Rock Paper Shotgun reviews are always solid because they are also written by people who not only have a passion for games, but also have some experience with designing games or mods.  Likewise the Bit-Tech reviews (and yes I am a little biased here) are generally good because the guys that write them have dabbled in game design as well.  In this day and age, if you are interested enough in games to write about them, it would be crazy if you hadn’t dabbled in a little hobby-coding at some point, even if it’s playing around with a level editor or something.

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Curiosity Killed The World

As part of my Learn By Doing series of films like my stop motion adventure a few days ago, I did something in live action this time.

Lesson learnt from this video:  You can cover a lot of sins with sound.  I think every one who offers film making advice online says it, but you never really appreciate it until you record something horribly crackly.

There are some out there that might say “well if you’re not 100% happy with it, why publish it?” and to them I say good point, but also I want to share my mistakes to maybe help someone else not make them, or to feel better also making mistakes.

 

 

Sick of Ninjas

For a while now, as you might be able to tell from some of the comments I made about online broadcast technology a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been dying to make a video series of some sort, because I can’t quite work out why I haven’t already.

Today, I have taken a short break from clattering away at my keyboard to try and learn a few video editing skills, using the first few things that I could find near to my desk.  Two of those such things happened to be some LEGO figures, so that goes to explain this stupid little stop motion clip that I’ve created to try and teach myself the basics of video editing.

I found the music on a creative commons royalty free site called incompetech.  Creative commons licenses seem to be a wondrous thing that I’m going to have to learn more about, because it strikes me as the most incredible thing the internet is able to provide right now.

Things I have learnt today:  Stop motion is hard and time consuming and a real art form that I would love to dive a bit further in to and Creative Commons is the future.

 

 

Portal 2 Music Video – Exile Vilify By The National

I have another film from the Tortoise Butler crew to share today.  This one was made for Valve’s recent Portal 2 music video competition.

 

I actually didn’t have such a massive involvement in this one.  I worked on some of the special effects and just sat at my computer churning out Half Life / Portal themed posters and citadel images that they placed in the film in post production to give the deserted streets of London a more in-universe feel.

The production was really done on a shoe string (with a steady-cam repair being carried out using a wooden spoon at one point) and in a very short space of time, approaching 48 hour film challenge conditions.

The way in which this one came out surprised me.  Some of the effects I worked on were much more effective than I expected they would be and it just went to show just how much you can do with the machines you have in your home and how even in a short space of time you can produce some decent quality content.

I also can’t believe they found someone who looked so much like Chell.