Monday, March 7, 2011

Make Your Own Weird Robot-people Movies

Featured Online Resource for the week of Mar. 7 is one of the most interesting of the recent "give us your content and we'll get it web-ready" applications to pop up in recent months.

It takes a script you type and produces a short movie with animated characters. You can choose from dozens of pre-fab characters: skateboarders, businessmen, geeks, celebrities like George W. Bush or Pocohantas; pre-fab settings like bars or living rooms, and camera angles. Type in your script, and xtranormal spits it out of the mouth of your character.

The animation style is generally big heads on spindly bodies that look a bit like tinker toys. There's a certain charm to the characters, but I wouldn't want them delivering my serious existential screenplay or announcing the news that my wife is expecting.

The drawback, at present, is the voice of the characters, an 80's-vintage Commodore 64 computer slur that partially mispronounces just about everything. That alone limits what you can do with what would otherwise be a tool almost too good to be true. I attempted a short video to use in library classrooms admonishing students to pay attention and stay off the facebook during the session. The robot I chose as a character was darling, but you can't readily understand everything he says, and he sounds very insincere about it due to his ability to inflect meaningfully.

Why Don't We Read Photographs?, an online journal comprised mostly of commentaries on writing and reading, contains an interesting think piece by Said Nuseibeh on the lack of means for intelligent analyses of photographs.