Mark Palmer, aka The Winglet, is an award-winning machinima creator from Australia. He has a long history of creativity with videogames, from building houses in The Sims (2000) to maps in Unreal Tournament (1999) and levels in Little Big Planet (2008), until he finally landed on Source Filmmaker – Valve’s animation tool for Team Fortress 2 (2007). For him, using videogames as a canvas to create his movies has been very beneficial for his artistic career, since they come with a built-in audience which facilitates easier and wider exposure to his work. Moreover, multiplayer games such as Team Fortress 2 also have extended lifespans, retaining audiences’ interest for longer time:
Although there are obvious limitations in using assets from a single game – as artists are restricted to a specific world and a certain set of characters – Mark also finds it hard to create entirely original work with Team Fortress 2, since audiences have already learned to associate characters from the game with a specific tone, genre, and set of rules. Similarly, making machinimas with videogames also imposes certain visual limitations, particularly using technology from 2007.
Source Filmmaker is the all-in-one animation software for Team Fortress 2 which gives machinima artists a user-friendly and efficient tool to create their work. In addition, Mark often uses 3D modelling software like Blender or Maya to make custom props for his videos, and collaborates with other artists to carry out larger projects.
Team Fortress 2 and Source Filmmaker used with permission of Valve Corp. © 2007-2021 Valve Corp.
However, he has considered transitioning to more traditional animation software to create entirely original work in the future in order to branch out.
Many of Mark’s works are short comedy or action sketches, but he confesses that his favourite stories are the long episodic ones because they give him the chance to unearth a bigger picture account. His creative process is very dynamic, starting with a simple concept or a single joke. He does not spend much time planning things out as he prefers to start animating as soon as possible. While he works on animating the scenes, he tries out new ideas which often cause the whole process and the videos to be longer than anticipated. Mark spent two years working on The Red, the Blu, and the Ugly (2021), the last instalment of a series he started in 2013, in which he experiments with a motion capture suit to incorporate real world acting into the video. This is his most complex and ambitious work to date, since he connects multiple previous videos into one overall story, setting everything up for a big finale.