Wednesday, 10 June 2015

138: "Tanabata", a machinima by Joseph Nussbaum

I was chatting with Joseph Nussbaum the other night and he gave me advance notice that he had been working hard on a new machinima and would be releasing it soon. He just dropped it tonight and, my oh my, is it beautiful.

You can find it here. I'm not technologically equipped to give you stills (other than one I swiped from Joe's Facebook feed), but I can tell you a little bit about the story. It's from an ancient Japanese folk tale that is still told today. (And pardon me, Joe and readers, if I have the details wrong. This story has been told a number of different ways over the years, but I think I understood what was going on.) Brave young Hikoboshi falls in love with the beautiful weaver Orihime, daughter of Tentei, a powerful lord. They are blissfully happy and get married. However, Hikoboshi and Orihime neglect their duties, preferring to spend their days making love, and Tentei becomes upset. Finally he separates the lovers with a magical river and they may only meet once a year -- after the ravens build them a magical bridge.

That's the story, more or less. What it doesn't tell you is that Joe has done wonderfully well at making the limitations of machinima into stylistic flourishes. If animations are not perfectly smooth, that becomes a kind of theme -- the actions are stylized and have a kind of elegant stutter about them that perfectly suits the mood. I also really liked the idea that although this was a Japanese myth with Japanese costumes, neither the music (by Tom DePlonty) or the dancing were especially Japanese to me. The whole piece has a kind of hallucinogenic quality that transcends time; the story is slight but it's there, like an old, old story, and there are associated emotions that are delicate and smart.

Orihime was played by Bianca Xavorin, who also did the costumes; Walter Gedenspire played Hikoboshi; Joseph Nussbaum himself played Tentei; and Boris Twist played the priest. Dance by Tim Risher; poses by Diesel, dances by Abranimations. And it was filmed at Harvest Town and Tempura. These talented people did various other things, and you should check the credits to see who's responsible for what (I know Bianca Xavorin did the costumes). I don't know who's responsible for the tumbling leaf-patterned cows ;-)

Obviously this is a labour of love; I don't know what machinima competitions there might be in SL, but this should be winning a bunch of them. A beautiful job, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Rusty, for your review! There are indeed many, many variations of the story - versions with magpies and not ravens, versions dealing with watermelons instead of cows, and so on. I like the idea of cows floating all over heaven, though. The cows, by the way, is a sculpture by Eupalinos Ugajin - called, appropriately enough, "Kou". I mentioned it in the final credits; it is one of my favourite pieces.

    And I want to mention Buck Mischief as well, who helped come up with the idea - he pointed me to a song which uses the story.