‘Game’ transforms UNM to Virtual World

Category: Gamer News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 18, 2008 | Publication: UNM Today | Author: editors
Publication/Article Link:UNM Today

Amid the quiet of winter break, avatars in metallic clothes and neon-bright hair step out of a computer screen onto the sky-bridge outside the Thorax bar – Woodward Hall, that is. They are part of “Society,” a simulation game similar to “Second Life” but with real people as avatars for hire.


Photo: In the movie “Game,” filmed in Albuquerque, live avatars battle in a virtual world called “Slayers.”

“Crank” creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor filmed the scene for their new movie “Game” – a dystopian thriller starring Gerard Butler (“300”) that takes virtual reality to a new level. The film is scheduled to be released in December 2008.

On Location

One could tell it was an unusual set the moment writer/director Neveldine rollerbladed through the actors, camera tucked in his elbow, perhaps mimicking the “fly cams” to be added later with CGI. “Game” spokesperson Michael Umble said the technique produces an effect like a dolly shot but more fluid.

In addition to the Thorax bar, UNM sites doubled as military barracks and a television studio, said location scout Shani Orona, a former UNM student. “We were looking for a location that had a lot of interesting angles and architecture,” she said. UNM’s buildings – inspired by pueblo architecture – also fit the film’s futuristic look. Fees paid for the use of UNM locations will be used to fund scholarships.

In addition to bringing funds to locations, the movie brings jobs for New Mexicans. Scott Voss of Voss Brothers Studios in Santa Fe is shooting “Behind the Scenes” for the film. “I have an all access pass,” he said. “It’s like getting paid to go to film school.”

The Story So Far

At the TV studio in Rodey Theatre, Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”), playing a reporter, grilled Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), playing the creator of “Society” and “Slayer,” on the ethics and methods of the games.

“Slayer” also features live avatars, but this time the players – with Butler’s character Kable at the head of the pack – are death row inmates offered the chance to fight until they die or survive thirty levels and go free.

Hall explains that those wealthy enough to own avatars control them through implanted nano-devices. To demonstrate, he tells a cute pup to sit, to a collective “awww” from the audience.

Simple as it was – especially compared with the high end stunts and explosions filmed in downtown Albuquerque – the scene demonstrated the complexity of filmmaking. Sedgewick slipped off her character’s high heels during the long pauses between takes while lighting and cameras were rearranged or the dog acclimated to the set.

Chilewood

“Game” continues the state’s long history in film. The first film ever made in New Mexico was “Indian Day School,” an 1898 documentary filmed at Isleta Pueblo. After a brief deluge of westerns in the early 1900s, the state’s film industry slowed to a steady trickle until 2003, when a statewide strategy including financial incentives, workforce training and new studio facilities opened the flood gates to Chilewood. The growth continues, with the New Mexico Film Office listing eight films currently in production around the state.

UNM has played a key role in the New Mexico Media Industries Strategy Project since its inception, developing a center for media research and education through the ARTS Lab, and starting last fall the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program. Through UNM’s interdisciplinary approach, students can gain a holistic understanding of the industry while developing a specialty among a wide range of fields – from directing to computer animation to movie marketing.