Case study - An indispensable tool for film students
Ed Lie is a 23 year old graduate from the University of North Texas.
He has recently completed a course in digital narrative, run by Professor James Martin.
Professor Martin invited Ed to join a new course he was creating after noticing his talent for movie production. “Ed was a student of mine for two semesters, beginning with Video Production, where he excelled,” James explains. “When I created the Digital Narrative course as an experiment, I invited him to join, based on his performance in the previous course and the fact he was already enrolled in Visual Editing.”
James intentionally constructed the course around Moviestorm. He wanted to see how far his students could push the software. He was particularly interested to make use of the flexibility it gave his students to experiment with camera shots. “I’m happy to say they really enjoyed working with the program,” James recalls. “The response was immediate and very positive overall. The students didn’t have to be sold on the software very much because they recognized how much they would be able to accomplish without the need for lots of crew, equipment and locations.”
Ed’s primary focus in movie making is editing and production, but he enjoys dabbling with cinematography, writing and directing. “I've been watching films all my life, of course, but my original goal was to work in animation,” he says. “I was immediately interested in the course and the software. Although Moviestorm was never designed to be a full-bodied animation suite, I was curious to see how far I could push the limits of the software to make something really unique. My firm belief is that limitations can help anyone grow creatively in any field and any medium by forcing one to adapt and constantly come up with clever solutions to unforeseen problems."
“More than anything else, though, Moviestorm reinforces my idea that super-slick visuals, while nice to have, remain secondary to a story in every single situation.“
His debut Moviestorm movie, Transmission, was made as part of his coursework. It tells the story of a lone astronaut whose only company is his ship’s A.I. After a collision cripples the craft, he is forced to make a leap of faith to a passing ship if he hopes to have any chance of survival.
Transmission is one of those rare movies that shows its creator’s love of a genre, and Ed is quick to acknowledge his main inspiration. “I'm a huge fan of Andrei Tarkovsky and his use of the genre of science fiction as a backdrop in the exploration of philosophical issues. A lot of my trademark slow, deliberate pacing and camerawork is informed by a good amount of his filmography, Solaris and Stalker in particular,” he cheerfully confesses. “There is also a fair amount of cinematographic influence from films such as Danny Boyle's Sunshine, Duncan Jones' Moon, and Stanley Kubrick's 2001 - A Space Odyssey. You could consider Transmission my love letter towards the genre of introspective sci-fi.”
Many of the sets and props you see in Transmission were been constructed by Ed himself specifically for this movie, using Blender. One third party mod that Ed used was Eyemotion, created by Chris Ollis at moddingstorm. “It added quite a bit of extra emotional depth that I couldn’t get from the gestures included with Moviestorm.”
After making his first movie with Moviestorm, Ed looks back on his experience enthusiastically. “Working in Moviestorm has honestly been a blast, warts and all! It's incredibly refreshing to be able to make something spectacular on a very limited budget without having to deal with the day to day hassles of live-action cinematography,” he remarks. “If I didn't like how a shot worked in the editing booth, I could very easily slide into the program and change the camera angles or the screen direction on the fly, whereas if I wanted to do that in a live-action context, I'd be forced to spend quite a lot of money and time on a re-shoot.”
James Martin also enthuses about the positive impact Moviestorm has had on his course and what he believes makes Moviestorm so unique. “One of Moviestorm’s biggest strengths is in exploring concepts, creating presentations and allowing students to explore how different cinematic elements affect their story. The program also has very strong potential as a pre-visualization tool, a presentation suite and as a way to explore movement and complexity within a scene.”
“I don’t feel I could have even attempted the course, even as an experiment, with any program other than Moviestorm.”