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SMART CLASSROOMS - Toolkit helps make movies from games

April 2009

Educators are focusing on the latest in gaming technology to turn students into movie-makers.

After an 18-month trial, Education Queensland has released the Machinima Toolkit, a program that allows users to make movies using video games.

Latest gaming technology... The Machinima Toolkit.

Games in Learning project officer Colleen Stieler-Hunt said machinima, a combination of the words "machine" and "cinema", was the world's latest film-making craze.

'Basically the Toolkit gives people a good insight into machinima and shows them how to make movies out of games,' Mrs Stieler-Hunt said.

 'It also focuses on how teachers can fit it into the school curriculum and why it can help in general school lessons.

'More importantly the kids love it and they are engaged in the classroom.

'Games give students the chance to challenge their imaginations and develop vital life skills such as cooperation with others and understanding new concepts.'

Trialled and created with help from Glenala State High School in Brisbane, Queensland Academy for Creative Industries and Trinity Bay State High School in Cairns, the Machinima Toolkit, is a one-stop shop for people interested in film-making.

Machinima footage can be filmed from any PC or console-based game such as Xbox, Playstation, The Sims or The Movies.

Once obtained, the footage is edited using standard video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker.

This process can cost a fraction of the cost of traditional filming because there are no fees for pricey actors and other staff, no weather delays and no film set costs.

'It really is amazing what you can do - it allows you to create a 3D movie without being an animation expert,' Mrs Stieler-Hunt said.

'It's just a case of writing the script, preparing, rehearsing, capturing the footage, editing and publishing the final product.'

Glenala State High School teacher Glenda Hobdell said her Year 10 Visual Arts students enjoyed using machinima to create self portrait video montages.

'I got the students to use machinima more as a layering device, focusing on the visual arts side rather than more traditional film-making conventions,' Ms Hobdell said.

'The students combined the use of conventional video capture technologies such as video cams and mobile phones with Flash animation and machinima footage layered into the final film.

'It's a very exciting direction, especially as it is so connected and relevant to the students.'

For more information or to view examples of students' work, see Machinima Toolkit.