Thursday, July 5, 2007

Shadow Council boasts finalist in music video contest

A Shadow Council player’s music video made it into the top-10 list of finalists in the World of Warcraft music video contest, and may have been in fourth place when voting closed.

Selserene,” a 28-year-old housewife from eastern Pennsylvania who plays a level 70 night elf druid on Shadow Council, made “To the Fairest,” a music video to the song “Not Capable of Love” by Ataris.

On Monday, Blizzard announced the winners of its music video contest. While “To the Fairest” did not place in the top three, all signs at the close of voting indicated it was in fourth place, according to Selserene.

“The only types of videos I'd done before were boss kill videos,” Selserene said in a chat interview. “Combining my WoW addiction with something creative and engaging is a great way to expand the hobby, in my opinion.”

She wanted her music video to be a classic story with a WoW twist. “And what is a more WoW moment than having Alliance versus Horde?” Selserene said.

In “To the Fairest,” the lead Blood Elf male follows a Draenei female into her bedroom to kill her (or, as the director put it, “to gank the Alliance”). His girlfriend sees the two together and misinterprets his intentions.

“That moment, even when the truth comes out, isn't enough for her to forgive and the relationship ends,” Selserene said. “The title itself plays on the Apple of Discord, from Greek mythology, where the goddess Eris began the Trojan war simply by making three other goddesses vie for a golden apple inscribed ‘To the Fairest.’

“It's the idea that something so small can become something so huge it gets away from that simple beginning,” she said.

The apple is a symbol that features prominently in her music video.

“I used the apple as a central part of the theme based on a number of reasons… The apple has so much mythos, that the flashes were both meant to be the ‘Kallisti’ apple, as well as a symbol of innocence and loss of innocence,” Selserene explained. “There was something in it that I think most people, regardless of background, would be able to really understand on a metaphoric level.”

Movies made from game footage are known as “machinima,” or “machine cinema.”
One of the challenges in making any “machinima,” Selserene said, is that the director is limited by what objects, costumes, and animations exist in-game already.

Selserene said she chose the blood elves and draenei as her lead actors because their animations were more expressive than the animations of other races.

“The blood elf female has some great facial expressions... although the male kind of seemed zoned out most of the time,” she joked in chat. “Kind of ‘This is my shocked face =O This is my happy face =O This is my 'crap it isn't what you think honey!' face =O .”

It took about three and a half weeks to finish, and she was scrambling to learn a program she had never used before.

“To the Fairest” was filmed partly in-world, partly using two programs known as Map Viewer and Model Viewer. It was edited with Adobe Premier Elements and captured with Fraps.

Her guildmate, a level 70 human mage called "Elythe" of Team Whiskers, said in a chat interview that he was not surprised to see her video made it into the top 10.

“She's always been pretty good at Photoshop and she was showing some real improvement in making videos for the guild,” Elythe said. “She might not have thought she'd make it, but everyone else knew she would.”

Though she is new to machinima, Selserene is already working on her next film, titled “My Favorite Things,” which she says will be a horror.

“It's about a little girl and her imaginary friend... and how that's a dangerous thing in the world of Azeroth,” Selserene said.

“I had a few people that kept me sane during the filming (of "To the Fairest")... Elythe, Rinaeya, Sarisa, Melindha. They kept me going even when I'd have problems I couldn't figure out how to fix and stuff.”

Guest appearances included Marrika, Perle, Sophaea, Glimdar, Skarlotte, Elythe, Rinaeya, and Elzabetha.

--L. Waymire, movie stills courtesy of Selserene

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