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3D Movie Maker (PC) artwork

3D Movie Maker (PC) review


"If you're the kind who just loves getting out there and making your own home movies, but find your scope limited by the low-quality of your mummy's camcorder, then Microsoft may just have the right little tool for you! What they've given us access to is 3D Movie Maker, a simple but effective program that can easily convey that maelstrom of ideas floating about in that (beautiful) head of yours. Hosted by a purple, Scottish directorial type named McZee (most likely an off-shoot from the Barney fa..."



If you're the kind who just loves getting out there and making your own home movies, but find your scope limited by the low-quality of your mummy's camcorder, then Microsoft may just have the right little tool for you! What they've given us access to is 3D Movie Maker, a simple but effective program that can easily convey that maelstrom of ideas floating about in that (beautiful) head of yours. Hosted by a purple, Scottish directorial type named McZee (most likely an off-shoot from the Barney family tree), 3D Movie Maker is the perfect tool for realising one's creative potential.

There's absolutely no problem with just launching yourself straight into the practical side of things. The Movie Maker offers on-site tutorials that will teach you to create entire scenes, before leaving you to your own devices. And if you'd rather take the more professional route, and create an animated Citizen Kane right off the bat, you can take note of the program's own productions or go in-depth with one of McZee's wacky sidekicks. Either way, this is not the most complicated program to come to grips with, and you'll be using it effectively in no time flat.

The basic formula that goes towards crafting your own masterpiece involves little effort. You'll get to choose from the locations, actors and props that Microsoft have so graciously included, and work from there. This instantly draws complaints that our visions are hampered by a smallish amount of the above commodities, but hopefully there should be enough range in what they HAVE included to satisfy you artistic types. Details such as camera angle and costume can quickly be altered and played with, and, if you're the picky type, you can also work with the size, angle and positioning of your protagonists. So within the limitations dealt to you by the developers, there is still plenty of room for lateral thinking and creativity in your projects!

But it's not a still-frame picture we're meant to be creating, so you're going to have to bring movement into the game. You can choose from a range of actions for each character, things such as walking, running, fainting and yelling all rear their heads here. It's a clumsy and finicky process, getting your character to do what you want him to at the appropriate time; and if you want to synchronise one characters actions with another then you're going to be in hell. It can actually be rather difficult creating something that doesn't look horribly stilted, and the process in getting to your final result isn't always the most engaging, but there's just something about the knowledge that you're making GENUINE 3D MOVIES that'll keep you coming back.

And if you do keep coming back, you'll probably want to take everything a step further and include your own lines of dialogue in the thing. There is some dialogue already prepared, but its odd characteristics (''I'll trade you a magic trick for a vase'') make it tough to apply to your own movies. If you're the owner of a microphone and the diction of a breakfast radio DJ then you're in luck, you may actually be able to create speech that somebody other than yourself will be able to understand.

Now that you've got all the basic elements of your movie together - location, character, action, and speech - everything is pretty much complete. You've finally been granted the realisation of that brilliant idea you've had for months, and it might almost just look pretty good. The blocky, cartoony style of graphics that have been used here will sit well with those of you who are out to create side-splitting comedy, and with the hundreds of sound effects just dropped in a pile at your feet who knows what brilliance lies ahead! Your first few productions may look decidedly B-grade, but you honestly can make some great stuff with your 3D Movie Maker.

But it can't JUST be about the creation of movies, IT JUST CAN'T! You're offered a little side-quest, travelling around the studio and collecting the profiles of the actors that appear in the game, a nice little diversion if ever I've seen one (and I haven't). And if you like you can pop in and visit McZee, and grab a few ideas from the ideas machine (ie - a rat and a totem pole, inside a cafe), or just sit back and watch all the movies that have been lovingly stored on your computer. Making the movies may be a bloody big part of the game, but at least they've got something else for you to do on the side.

With approximately 10 different locations to shoot at, 40 different actors (many of whom are freaks or animals) and 30 or so props, 3D Movie Maker will either make you incensed that your creative integrity is being stifled, or joyous you've got the chance to bum around a bit and be like a mini-quasi-semi-Spielberg. If you don't take yourself too seriously, then there is countless hours of fun to be had by fiddling around with minor details and crafting something worth watching. None of it may ever make it close to Cannes, but at least you're making movies! Right?

Right!


Rating: 8/10

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (July 09, 2004)

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