Monday, July 11, 2011

'PRON' and The Art of Machinima Storytelling

'PRON' is the newest SL adult machinima bearing the "Serenity Juneberry" hallmark of quality and distinction.

Jointly directed by Emeelee Rage and Serenity herself, the film opens with a smart and sleek After Effects composition set to the beat of The Eurythmics 'Sweet Dreams'.

This opening sequence sets the scene for what is to follow - a phantasmagoria of colour, sexual imagery and story telling.

Whilst Serenity directed the opening and first five minutes of the film, Emeelee took firm hold of the director's rein to steer the actors through the action scenes that follow.

Collaboration is never easy even at the best of times, but Emeelee and Serenity seem to have negotiated the many pitfalls and pulled off a near miraculous sharing of the directorial responsibilities.

The film concept is broadly based on the popular 1982 science-fiction film 'Tron' -  a computer user is enticed into a neon world of digital adventure. We follow a digitalised Serenity as she searches for the the Grid-Babe, played by Arwen Juneberry.

However, in contrast with the 1982 film where nerds and geeks get to play at being cool, in 'PRON' we are delighted to have an array of gorgeous and sexy avatars in various states of undress.

Starring alongside Co-Directors Serenity and Emeelee are Louise Silverweb, T413, Ivori Faith, Alyssa Drechsler, Stryker Ninetails, Natalie Xenga, Jinx Jiersen, Rayven Baily, VanHelsing Svoboda, Booya Bombacci, Haylie Joles, Elizabeth Firelyte, Dsfargeg Batista and, of course, the inimitable and beautiful Arwen Juneberry.

A lot of time, effort and love has gone into the making of 'PRON' - and this is evident is almost every scene and scene transition - but the film sets themselves definitely deserve singling out for special mention.

Designed and built by Louise Silverweb and Serenity, the sets - and indeed the actors outfits - constantly reinforce the iconic 'Tron' neon imagery. You are never left in any doubt that Serenity and the glamorous beings she encounters are denizens of a digital world.

The story presented in 'PRON' is a fun and rather clever re-working of the aeon-old "Initiation Story".

Whether it be Osiris entering the Otherworld,  the descent into Hades, modern interpretations like 'Jason and the Argonauts' and 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' or a thousand and one other variations, the story is always the same.

In initiation stories, the protagonist is forced to descend into a dark world (representing the Unconscious) where s/he encounters various strange and wonderful people, beasts and animals (representing various unconscious unresolved conflicts, complexes and confusions). Only by successfully negotiating with said beings can the protagonist continue on to eventually meet the Loved One (representing, of course, wholeness and resolution).

And so it is with 'PRON'. Our heroine Serenity willingly submits to the unknown experience of the digital world in the hope of becoming reconciled with her Ideal, the Grid-Babe. But, to do so, she must first pass through the portal of The Cyber Clit Club having satisfied its patrons of her worthiness.

'PRON' comprises two parts (of approx. 17mins and 14mins) and uses a text-based narration technique. The text is clear and legible and for the most part does not interfere with or obscure the visual aesthetic of the film.

This is important. The danger of text-based narration is that perfectly fine visual images can be ruined or obscured by misplacement or mistiming of text. Like everything else in 'PRON' it is clear that thought and effort has gone into the narration and, as a result, the story is able to be told with the minimum of disruption to the viewer.

However, due to the very nature of the medium, text-based narration inevitably causes some lose of immersion, just as it does while reading sub-titles on a foreign-language film.

To some extent, I submit, we need to ask ourselves whether we are writing a book or making a movie. Both are equally valid forms of storytelling but they do not necessarily make natural bedfellows.

Machinima is a very new art form, and the adult/porn genre a relatively immature but rapidly evolving expression of that art. The next logical step, it seems to me, is making voice the staple diet of machinima storytelling - as has already been done to great effect by Rysan Fall and other directors - but also, as alluded to by Peter Greenaway in a recent lecture in Second Life, voice itself could well merely be a stepping stone, and one that may in fact itself be left behind...

I keep hoping to see a visionary machinima maker - someone who uses the medium as the message. At present we are only seeing other art forms rewrit - the short-form feature-film, the music video-clip, the catwalk presentation, the dance-movie, the documentary-fiction with commentary - it's related of course to a loop of what you want is what we can produce for you - but I am truly full of excited hope that it is coming - an increased demand for new and better tools by machinima makers will increase the soft-ware and even the hardware thinking.
As artists, we should be looking to how we can develop machinima as an art form beyond the comfortable familiarity of the book and the blockbuster feature film.

This is, undoubtedly, a tall order but it is also almost an inevitability. It will not be a smooth, gentle growth but rather an evolution consisting of fits and spurts with terrible tantrums and hurtful growing pains.

But, please consider, most every new art form and most every new technology has been, is, fuelled by "pornography" (or erotica or libido or sexuality etc).

Personally, I cannot think of a single reason why the newly developing Art of Machinima should not also be fuelled by adult film makers. Can you?

Even now, in its early stages of evolution, we can see individual adult machinima directors taking the first tentative steps out of the comforting watery-womb of familiarity onto the more uncharted shores of experimenting and artistry - I refer you to the work of Hitomi Crystal, Quinn Ying and Aleeah as but three examples of an ever increasing pool of talent - but, ever leading the vanguard, few would disagree, is Serenity Juneberry.

Whereas 'Pandoras Box' should certainly be considered as a milestone on the evolutionary path of adult machinima, 'PRON', I think, could be characterised as one of numerous essential and important rest-stops where we can review how far we have come, survey the surroundings, take stock and prepare for the next step of the journey.

'PRON' takes a story line and runs with it to its logical and sexy conclusion. It does this with class and style, with humour and love. Emeelee and Serenity have done a very fine job of co-directing this movie.

I believe that every individual involved in the creation of 'PRON' has the right to feel justly proud.

So, without further ado, please allow me to present to you Serenity and Emeelee's 'PRON' (Parts 1 and 2):

Pixie xxx


  1. I'm always extra, extra flattered to receive any comment or positive feed back from Pixie. I admire her and her own work so much.

    Thank you for your thoughtful, balanced, and kind look at our movie, it was so well written. Also thankyou for speaking so well of Pandora's Box. :)

    *hugs* Serenity. xx

  2. I don't really class Pron as porn to be honest. If you take a look at the back catalogue of this production team then yes, one or two of their films are indeed porn, but in the main they make erotic adult movies in my opinion.

    Erotique produce movies from the imagination and there is a clear difference between this, and using fraps to shoot two avatars on a TnT engine and calling it a movie.

    I admit, I am not a huge fan of text dialogue and in most cases I do not think that it is needed. But on the other hand there are very few voiced movies that have worked either (Rysen and Deelite are the only ones that have made it work imo) simply because there IS a certain amount of acting talent required for a voice over.

    Pandora's Box was a watershed as far as adult movies are concerned, but movies like Web Cam Voyuer had already raised the bar I think.