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Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2011

Machinima through multiple lenses: Lights! Camera! Learning!

Marianne Malmstrom - SL: Knowclue Kidd

Lindy McKeown - SL: Decka Mah


Machinima through multiple lenses: Lights Camera! Learning!
Film making in virtual worlds can have many roles in education from digital story telling and making documentaries by students in the K-12 classroom to creative expression in the Arts to training farmers about climate change in developing nations. Virtual worlds provide limitless sets, endless locations, a huge cast of actors, affordable special effects and interesting camera angles. It can be done in commercial virtual worlds and games such as Second Life, ReactionGrid or World of Warcraft on your behind the firewall local virtual world like OpenSim on a USB stick. Whether it is used for creative expression, community service, advertising, assessment or social action, machinima provides film makers with access to affordable resources and locations to express important messages on a limited budget. Knowclue and Decka will share their personal experiences using machinima as well as some amazing stories from other film makers in education to show what is possible and what it takes.

What is machinima?
Watch this one as the example - Made by Knowclue’s students:


Why Machinima? (Expert from:

Using a 3D virtual world with screen capture software to create video not only offers a unique solution to some of the known obstacles to creating videos at school, it also affords us some advantages that were previously unavailable.

Imagine students building their own sets, creating their own environments and controlling the time of day without ever rearranging a classroom. Imagine students changing their characters (becoming any gender, race, age or even something other than human) in just one click. Imagine, students working cooperatively to create the needed shots. Best of all, imagine being able to create movies in real time with students in other schools.

Allows film makers to express important messages and create powerful stories on a limited budget by providing them with access to:
1. Affordable resources
2. Unlimited locations from this world or any imaginary world, natural or man-made, in space, on earth or under the sea
3. Actors of any race, age, gender, species
4. In any time period in history form the past, present or a multitude of futures, day or night, in any season or weather condition
5. Make movies alone or in groups
6. Make movies in teams that are not geographically co-located


  • Film making as the activity

  • Institutions promoting themselves
  • Viewing films as the activity
  • Digital story telling

  • Making documentaries and documenting other projects

  • Creative expression in the Arts

  • Training

  • Media literacy
  • Advertising
  • Community service announcements
  • Activism
  • News genre using avatars and locations

Collaboration Projects

  • Skills to make films together
  • Geographically separated teams
  • Other perspectives - culture, race, gender, etc
  • Not reinforcing stereo types (unless that is the point)


Indian farmers project
  • No access to SL by audience
  • Training agenda
  • Done because so much cheaper than making training films using humans
  • Research question - what fidelity is needed to be useful for training?

Student Work in Class

Student Work Beyond Class

Documenting Student Work

Documenting Lectures

Presenting Ideas


Lindy’s Law course introduction video

Other people’s

Documentaries: ****

TV networks - ISTE and SLCN

Avalon project

how to get flat abs

Uni Western Australia


how to get flat abs





Story boarding tmeplates (millions on the web - simple for beginners but adding features for film students or digital tools)

Second Life wiki
health and fitness tips

Software for capture:

Knowclue's pick for MAC : Real Time Capture

Other Screen Capture Tools:

  • Screenflow - free trial, buy for $99
  • Snapz Pro X - rendering time is an issue because it occurs after you are done filming, file sizes are quite large

Dual Platform:
  • Jing (free) dual platform 5 min. capture limit
  • Jing (pro)


Space Navigator Mouse


The TFI New Media Fund provides funding and support to non-fiction, social issue film projects which go beyond traditional screens

Four to eight non-fiction projects will be accepted, each receiving $50,000 to $100,000 in funding.

Submissions will open April 4, 2011.


Production processes
  • Story boarding or not
  • Establishing shots
  • Shots and back shots
  • Length of shots
  • The magic line
  • Camera angles
  • Post production

  • limited races in some virtual worlds
  • limited age groups
  • perpetuate stereotypes
  • MTV factor

Groups and web communities
SL Machinima Artists Guild

Volunteers to help
Clay Shirky cognitive surplus

Chat surveys:
At the beginning - what people have done in machinima

After our examples - URLs of their films

When we mention this - groups related to film making

Tools - other tools in world and software

All collated onto the wiki