Machinima lands in the UK

Rustlers may be the market leaders in the hot snacking section of your local supermarket, but that doesn't mean they're content to rest on their burgers. They've teamed up with, the most popular machinima website in the world, to launch the art in the UK - and they've brought along a friend to help them.

Today's official opening of's UK portal is being celebrated with the launch of a machinima music video competition featuring the work of genius geek troubadour of-the-moment Jonathan Coulton, the writer of 'Still Alive', the closing track in the Electronic Arts game Portal (as featured in Half Life 2 - The Orange Box). The man known to fans as 'JoCo' has supplied two tracks (Bacteria and Todd the T1000) for would-be music video directors to use, and both can be downloaded free of charge from the competition page here:

Entrants will be able to submit their entries using's video uploading tools, while users registering on the site will be able to vote for their favourite entries. When the competition ends on August 8th, the author of the music video with the most votes will win a top-of-the-range Alienware Laptop, pre-loaded with Adobe Premiere Pro CS3. Runners-up will also be awarded prizes, as will a random selection of users who sign up and vote during the competition period.

But hold up a second - what the heck is machinima? If you're unfamiliar with the art form, don't worry, this is bleeding edge stuff. Machinima is the art of real-time filmmaking in a virtual environment. This virtual environment could be a place like Second Life, but more often it's a video game - anything from World Of Warcraft to Halo 3. The playable characters are your actors, the game environments are your sets, and the games weapons and monsters are your special effects. Turning passive gamers into artistic puppet masters, machinima is essentially Punch and Judy on an epic scale.

Perfect for any wannabe film-maker who'd rather be making Hollywood blockbusters than talky indie films, machinima enables talented young Tarantinos to create special effects-heavy films that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars in Tinseltown - for next to nothing.

In the US, machinima is already big business, both commercially and artistically. The most successful product is Red Vs. Blue, a hilarious comedy series based the private lives of Halo characters. With over 100 episodes and several mini-series, it was described by Graham Leggat (former Director of Communications for New York's prestigious Lincoln Center Film Society) as being "truly as sophisticated as Samuel Beckett."

As a brand that appeals primarily to 16-34 yr old males, Rustlers are always looking for exciting new ways to reach their audience, and when award-winning viral advertising agency Maverick Media introduced Rustlers' Brand Manager Adam Shinwell to the concept of machinima, he was "immediately blown away". "Although gaining pace in the USA, machinima is still relatively niche in the UK", notes Shinwell. "We proposed that we help fund and promote the platform in the UK through the development of a unique UK machinima portal, which has been specifically designed for the UK market with relevant content, tutorials and competitions".

Machinima is the perfect art form for the disenchanted youth of the UK, combining video games with the arts in a positive way that inspires creativity, social interaction and teamwork. With this competition as the first step, Rustlers have committed to help raise the profile of Machinima in the UK throughout 2008.

For those that are unfamiliar with Machinima it is the somewhat underground method of movie making using popular real-time game engines such as Halo or Grand Theft Auto. Videos from the games are then edited together using voice overlay or subtitles to tell a story or produce a scene.

The popularity of the artform has sky rocketed over the past few years and is now one of the most recognised methods of homebrew moving making in the technology world.

If you fancy having a go head on over to the Machinima website and find out more about the competition.