Hmm, the 25th CGSociety Challenge: B-Movie looks fun — although your fellow competitors will be professionals, and there’s no machinima category. Video deadline: 19th April 2010. Bear in mind the CGSociety has already done steampunk, space opera, and secret agent themes, in previous years.

“Since the dawn of movies there was always a creepier, scarier, and unintentionally funnier cousin to the big budget blockbusters… the B-Grade Movie. Cinema screens around the world flickered with startling images of wolfmen, zombies, nuclear-mutated monsters, and bug-eyed aliens with a penchant for probing. […] you, the artist, [are asked] to bring these gems back to life, or create your own in their spirit, via a still image, video, or, for the first time, audio.”

iClone 3.2 free with 3D Artist magazine #12

The current issue of the British 3D Artist magazine has a free copy of iClone 3.2 SE on its free cover DVD. It’s issue 12, which is £7.50 inc. postage in the UK. 3.2 SE seems to be the same as the version of iClone given away in the U.S. with the boxed version of the Magix movie software. The only limitations are (so I read in a couple of reviews of Magix) that the rendering of final video from each project is limited to: i) 30 seconds per export, and ii) to “standard” video resolutions (720 x 576 maximum). Otherwise, it’s apparently a fully-working version? Anyone know different?

Bear in mind that Amazon UK is still trying sell iClone 3 standard for £62.42 (iClone 4 isn’t even listed). However, SE can’t install any retail add-on packs — as well as the other restrictions.

The full Carrara 6.2 Pro for the PC is also being given away. Even if you don’t use it for modelling and animation, it has an excellent easy-to-use wizard for quickly creating a natural landscape scene to serve as an iClone 2D background.

Born of Hope

It’s not an animation — but the British low-budget Lord of The Rings prequel movie Born of Hope (HQ video link) seems worth highlighting here as an inspirational feat of low-budget movie-making. Inspired by the £3,000 LoTR plot-filler The Hunt for Gollum (2009) the director of Born of Hope spent £8,000 (about U.S. $12,000) of her savings, and raised another £17,000 in online PayPal donations from fans, to make the 70-minute film.

“Making of…” documentaries: for Hunt for Gollum and for Born of Hope.

In terms of funding a film via online donations, tapping into an avid fan-base seems to be the way to go. And I suppose the ideal would also be to target a fan-base where the source material is now in the public domain (Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Poe, Kipling, J.M. Barrie, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, golden age sci-fi and detective stories, etc) — and thus can be used without having to pay large sums to whichever hideous cabal of distant relatives and agents has acquired the writers’ estate. Working on such fan-films might also be a useful stepping-stone for amateur iClone animators, although possibly via offering pre-vis of complex scenes rather than the actual screen FX (for which they’ll inevitably find an underemployed Maya wizard).