Case study - Modding and filmmaking


Arthur V. Kuhrmeier is a prolific Moviestormer

In his first two months he released innovative mods and 11 videos.

imageArthur is originally from Pforzheim in southwest Germany, often called the "Gate to the Black Forest". After school he learned DTP graphics and went to work in an advertising agency, then moved to Augsburg where he worked as branch manager in a small photographic studio. One and half years later he opened his own photo store where he began videography and editing. The rise of digital cameras five years later put a lot of photo stores out of business, and Arthur went back to publishing. He then bought a small magazine publishing house.

A short while later, misfortune hit: his marriage fell apart, and he went bankrupt, then moved to the small medieval town of Dingolfing, best-known for having the largest BMW plant in the world. That's when he rediscovered his passion for film-making. "When I was fifteen I heavily envied my older school mates making a movie," he says. "I wanted to become an actor when I was eighteen. I learned pantomime when I was twenty-one. I was even miming a stunt man at the age of … hard to say, maybe ten ... jumping from my bunk bed on a mattress on the floor. You know, like shot by a bad guy. I can't believe it. I had completely forgotten that I did that!"

Arthur has no formal film training. He bought magazines, browsed the internet, and practiced shooting and editing with a digital video camera. In 1999 a friend asked him for help editing a motorcycle tour he had shot. His brother-in-law is the owner of Krauser GmbH, a company that manufactures designer motorcycles with side-cars, and organizes an annual tour across the most beautiful regions of Europe for over 30 years now, and they did five videos together. "It was always a lot of work and a lot of fun, but yeah, that's how it started. My friend lent me his DV camera, and a few months later I bought my own. And of course I studied movies, which I watched very closely to learn from the pros. How the camera was set, how the film was edited, how the lighting stressed the ambience. I figured out the differences between a 'good' and a 'bad' movie all by myself. Man, I'm good…" he grins. Like many others, he learned by re-editing existing movies. "One of my craziest editing projects was cutting down the three parts of Back To The Future into one film of three hours," he laughs. "Yep, I did it. Just took me a couple of years."

He only discovered Moviestorm in late March this year. "It's more like Moviestorm chose me. I can't even remember how I found it. Funny, isn't it? And I wonder why I didn't find it before. I was searching the web uncountable times to find an application which allowed me to do what I wanted to. I started to experiment with Anime Studio Pro which is cool for 2D animation but has some flaws when it comes to 3D. Then I decided to use Blender. I used it, and started to create a few tutorials. But then I realized that it would take me ages just to set up a scene, let alone to create an animated character. I looked at iClone, and at first I thought "Cool, you can even move every finger in iClone." But then I thought, "do I want to direct ten actors or hundred fingers?" I decided for the actors. I'm not interested in creating stuff from zero, you know, design every corner of the shape, set the material from billions of possibilities… boredom for months! It was only when I got my hands on Moviestorm that I knew:"This is it!" It was like looking for an old friend for ages, and one day realizing he lives on the next street."

Moviestorm does pretty much everything he needs for his movies. For editing, he uses iMovie. He also has a few useful apps for post-processing, such as Camera Bag, which works on stills only but is capable of batch processing. "It may be a lot of effort, but the results are amazing," he notes. "Since I created my Panorama Backdrop and the Floordrop mods, I don't even need chroma key."

 

 

This demo video, the Diesel Train, mixes Moviestorm
with an animated backdrop created in
Googol-Choo-Choo 3D.

 

 

Arthur cuts straight to the heart of why Moviestorm works for him. "Only Moviestorm gives me the power to concentrate on what filmmaking means to me: being the director. I design a scene set with existing props. I do the casting from unlimited possibilities within minutes. Soon I can begin directing the actors. For my short demo film "The Diesel Train" I even did the voice recordings in Moviestorm. And I enjoy setting the camera, pick the right angle, wide shot, close-up, cut, move, skip… cool!"

Most of what Arthur's released so far is mods. "Modding is a combination of 3D, graphics, and programming - all things I've done before. The only thing I'm still learning is animation. Actually I was inspired and infected by the other modders. That's one of Moviestorm's biggest capacity, allowing 3rd party addons of any kind for everything. I only scratched the surface of modding and lots of things are still a book with seven seals to me, but I know that I can rely on the support and my friends to help me out with anything I need."

 

 

This mod adds an animated backdrop to a scene.

 

 

He prefers to give his mods away. "I guess it has to do with "Once bitten, twice shy". I thought I was a great salesman. But in the end I sold my work, but didn't get paid for it. That's why I went bankrupt. Honestly, I'm sick and tired of selling, selling, selling… I think it's the disadvantage of capitalism - it makes you think only about how to sell something. But fortunately I found out that there are other ways. Lots of people live off donations. They do great work, give it away for free, and other people know to value that by donating. I believe that I do great work and find the people who will support me." He's not opposed to commercial third party mods, though. "Modding is a lot of work. That's why I highly appreciate it if someone offers her/his mods for free. I also understand that some modders sell their work, but I think everyone has reasonable prices."

 

 

The Cave: Arthur's first mod

 

 

He's also involved in some projects with some of his new friends in the Moviestorm community. He and Kate Fosk are planning a website about resources, tips, reviews, videos, games, and more all about machinima. "The name of the website was her idea: fullhorn.tv - it's sort of a pun. The German word "Füllhorn" means "cornucopia", but "full horn" also makes sense." He also offers commercial machinima services. "I set up the service on my website about two weeks ago. I've just started to write more about the possibilities machinima offers. I'm also creating a showreel which will show all the excitements within 60 seconds. I just want people to see the benefits of machinima, and what great results you can achieve. I don't have a price list. I used to do that, and put much effort in it, but I think it's rather a limitation. If you have a project, just tell me about it. Tell me your budget, and I'm sure we will find a way of how to accomplish it so we are both happy. I believe that machinima and Moviestorm in particular offer an enormous flexibility of how to realize a project. If you want the perfect result, I know how to create a stunning video for you. If you have a small budget, I know the important things, so you still get an exciting video."

However, his major project now is a full-length feature film. "I always wanted to make 'real' movies. Full-length movies. Moviestorm gives me all the possibilities to do so," he says with a smile. "What I planned to do with other 3D apps is a science-fiction series called Borderline Space. The script was half way done when I discovered Moviestorm. So I stopped that and wrote the short film I Shouldn't Have Done That, actually to put Moviestorm to the test. I will finish that one first, and then go back to my science-fiction series. And In 2009/10 I wrote a script for a crime taking place in Dingolfing. I love the script, not just because I wrote it myself, but because it combines crime, comedy, and a love story. That's a project I want to realize with real actors. I already have some German actors in mind: Franka Potente, Heike Makatsch, Elmar Wepper, Til Schweiger. It might take a few years, but one day I'm doing it!"

First, though, he's working on a thriller called I Didn't Shoot Sara, an expansion of I Shouldn't Have Done That. Lucinda McNary has joined the team as production manager, and script editor. "She encouraged me to expand the script of my short film and make it a full-length movie. Now I'm so excited about this project. This movie is a real kick for me, as it also means the start of a new business, and a new life. There's just a little problem. I don't have the money. So, I thought, why not just ask for it? I set up a campaign on indiegogo.com where I present the idea, the background, and the team of course. Everyone who donates will be credited in the movie depending on the amount, which ranges from the "Thanks to" to "Executive Producer". You can even have your name or logo in the film. Of course everyone involved will get an inside look, be informed of the current state, receive screenshots, etc. I will think of more bonuses for everyone who supports me."

 

 

 

 

His passion for movies is undeniable. "It's like a mysterious spirit. You don't know where it came from, you don't know how to get rid of it - it drives you on and on. To me, modding became a part of filmmaking. I enjoy having the power to direct, to shoot, to edit – and modding multiplies that power. I can do anything I want – once I've broken all the seals!"

Arthur ends by telling us what Moviestorm means to him. "It's a great tool, and independent filmmakers especially can realize films that would be difficult to do with real equipment. And Moviestorm is not just an application. It's a unique community of people always willing to help each other. I've found so many new friends from all over the world in less than two months. That's truly amazing!"

 

 

More info

Arthur V. Kuhrmeier on Moviestorm

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