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How to make a machinima


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Been a decade or so since I had any contact with machinima, so what I'm going to write here may not be actual, and some of these tools may not work properly with newer operating systems or were updated to newer versions I'm not aware of. But anyways, there are three most important tools:

  • Video recorder, like Fraps. There's lots of varying opinions which program is the best and which is the worst, so you need to look around and see, because I have no clue. I've been personally using Fraps back in 2006-2009, and never really had any problems with it, and I recently reinstalled it to make some high res Snapmatics in GTA V's Editor. Fraps worked well either way, but as I said, maybe there's a better alternative I'm not aware of. Oh, also, Fraps requires tons of storage space for videos, so be aware.
  • San An Studios 3/4 - That's the core mod, the heart of every machinima video. It allows you to spawn actors, animate them, make them follow you, hide markers, change weather, etc. Long story short - it gives you master control over the game and its scripts, in many respects similar to Menyoo for GTA V, except way less advanced. It has an extensive list of key commands and combinations, so my advice would be to print it, to have easy and quick access to everything you need.
  • CamHack - small tool allowing you to move the camera freely, as well as adding few more camera settings. Nothing much to add - it is what it says it is, and that's why it's essential.

Now, these three were a must back in 2007, but it doesn't mean they are be all, end all. Depending on the project, you may need additional tools. From what I recall, there were 3 others that were very, very helpful to me:

  • MEd - very easy to use map editor for all III era GTA games. Used to be a brilliant tool, albeit it occassionally may crash, so save often. From what I remember, there was some drama related to it - its creator stopped updating it and never released the source code so other people could continue his work. Who knows it it works on modern systems, but if you want to use unique sets, that's the easiest tool to use.
  • Car Spawner - there are dozens of them, from stand alone ones, to ones built in other, bigger tools and cleo based scripts. I think I've been using this one back in the day. Probably a cleo spawner would be more convenient, but I can't recommend any, and I do not know how would it work alongside aforementioned tools. I guess trial and error, then.
  • Control Center - similarly to car spawners, there's many, many different control centers for San Andreas. Here's one that used to be pretty popular. In general, CCs feature many options normally not accessible in the game (but some can be modified with San An Studios, for example) or hidden behind cheat codes. They are convenience of life type of tools - you can live without them, but if you use them, they can be pretty helpful and speed up your work.


Finally, familiarize yourself with cheats for San Andreas. Some, like being able to recruit any ped or never attracting police attention may be very useful, especially if some of the tools above end up not working properly. That's how early, pre San An Studios machinima was being created - people had to look for workarounds and clever solutions to achieve desired results.


As for video editing and post production, so much has changed in last 10 years, there's no point to even try to cover this subject. Sony Vegas is still one of the most popular editors available, and that's one I would recommend - it's easy to use and powerful at the same time. For regular use should be more than enough, but if you're more ambitious, you will have to do certain things on your own, by hand. I guess animated text and light are the best examples here - when I was doing the intro video for Vice Cry 1.8 mod, I had to manually mask parts of the text frame by frame, to ensure it looks like an invisible hand writes it exactly the same as in original intro for Vice City. Same with audio editing - it  gives you some options and effects, but you need to figure them on your own.

There may be some free alternatives for Vegas, but I haven't personally seen one that would satify me.

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RE:Vegas - There was (last year) a software Humble Bundle that had Vegas Pro 14 (post sale from Sony to Magix) for $20, so keep an eye out for that in case they run it again. Also, DxTory tends to be a bit more flexible than FRAPS

I'm actually not against democracy though. I'm against things I think are f*cking stupid. I think this is f*cking stupid. - Sweets

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