Adventures in the public domain

SmoothFew muses on the problem with machinima

“My advice for any hobbyists out there that like to dabble in machinima or other forms of derivative content (fan fiction, stories based on popular games or movies, comic strips that do the same, etc) is that if you want to do this stuff for a living, don’t spend all your time on something you don’t own. […] You don’t want to spend years of your life working on something only to be told that it doesn’t really belong to you”.

If you’re a hobbyist knowingly using machinima to learn transferable skills that can later be made to pay elsewhere (Flash animation, pre-vis, event design, theatre staging, games, even er… those “movie” things) then I don’t see the problem. I can see the attraction of setting a major video project in and around a recognisable brand like that of a popular videogame. All your buddies know exactly what it is and thus why you might want to bury yourself in your bedroom for months to make it. But there are recognisable “character brands” that are now in the public domain, and free for use by anyone…

Allan Quatermain
Alice & Co. from Wonderland
Anne of Green Gables
Baba Yaga and other Russian fairy-tales
Captain Nemo
Dickens characters (Scrooge, Oliver Twist etc)
Big Bad Wolf / Little Red Riding Hood
Brer Rabbit
Buster Keaton (likeness of the comedian)
Cthulhu mythos and associated settings (H.P. Lovecraft)
Conan (in some Robert E. Howard stories)
Count of Monte Cristo
Dick Turpin (highwayman)
Dr. Faustus
Doc Savage
Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Doctor Dolittle
Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
All fairy tale characters (e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk)
Father Christmas
Frankenstein’s monster
Flash Gordon
Fu Manchu (in USA only)
All figures and monsters from Ancient Greek / Norse / Germanic / Arthurian myth
Hansel and Gretel
Historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Houdini, Billy the Kid, Davy Crockett
Huckleberry Finn and co.
Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Invisible Man and other H.G. Wells characters
Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
Jungle Book characters
Keystone Kops
King Kong
Kim (Kipling)
Krazy Kat
Little Nemo (Winsor McCay)
Marquis de Sade characters (Justine, etc)
Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother)
Paul Bunyan
Peter Pan & co.
Peter Rabbit
Phineas Fogg (Jules Verne steampunk adventurer)
Philip Marlowe / Sam Spade
Phantom of the Opera
Popeye the Sailor
Puss in Boots
Robin Hood
Robinson Crusoe
The Shadow
All Shakespeare characters (Prospero, Falstaff, Hamlet, etc)
Scarlet Pimpernel
Sherlock Holmes, Dr Watson, and Professor Moriarty
Tarzan and Co.
Three Musketeers
The Tortoise and the Hare
Uncle Sam
Werewolves, dragons, unicorns, Egyptian mummies of all types, etc.
White Fang (dog)
Wind in the Willows characters
Wizard Of Oz characters (first 16 books only)

I can think of some potential combinations already. And if you can’t use them “as is”, then take a tip from Hollywood and reboot them… how about a werewolf-hunting team consisting of The Big Bad Wolf (now tamed by Little Red and with a 15-foot high superhero build), Little Red Riding Hood (in Japanese lolita mode) and her comedy sidekick Brer Rabbit, with Puss in Boots as the brains of the outfit?

Of course, with iClone’s CloneBone rig, almost any character can be easily created and animated…