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Machinima is a cinematic medium, and a collection of associated production techniques.

It concerns the rendering of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) with ordinary PCs and the 3d engines of first person shooter games in real-time (on the computer of either the creator or the viewer) rather than offline with huge render farms.

The real-time nature of machinima means that established techniques from traditional film-making can be reapplied in a virtual environment. As a result, production tends to be cheaper and more rapid than in keyframed CGI animation.

Because machinima describes events at a more abstract level than their concrete realization as a sequence of rendered 2D frames, it allows digital films that can be played at very high framerate and resolutions to be stored/transmitted more efficiently than conventional video formats. (Imagine 3d Macromedia Flash compression.)

Although talented programmers have always created audiovisual "demos", machinima per se arrived with Quake movies in 1997; the term was coined at the start of 1998. At the time of writing (December 2002), the medium still has much to prove, but interest is continuing to grow.

Quake II and Unreal are examples of video games which are currently used to create machinima.

see also Computer-Generated Art

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