Movie Making--A 6-Page Guide from EA

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Movie Making--A 6-Page Guide from EA

Postby lindawing » February 15th, 2014, 8:44 pm

Have you ever dreamt of making movies? Coming up with a brilliant story, getting it all set up, visualizing the look and feel, editing clips together, scoring it, and then showing it off to others?

The Sims 2 gives you the chance to explore your inner director, but there are a few tricks that you might want to know first that will help out along the way.

When naming your movie, be sure to not use any spaces in the name before you upload it.


Setting the Stage

The first thing you might consider is creating a set vs. building an entire house. This has a few advantages. You can make sure that walls and other objects don't get in the way of your shot. It cuts down on your polygon count and you can get the best out of the default lighting in game. Plus it costs less.

If you choose a pre-created house there are some ways to make this work for you, even if there is already a family of Sims living there. First create the Sims for your movie and move them into an empty lot. Then cheat their money up and move them back into the Family Bin. Then re-enter the pre-created house and kill off the Sims in that house so that their possessions will remain. Save the lot and move the new Sims you created into that house. You might now consider modifying the house for your shot in any way necessary, including removing walls, retexturing walls, floors, etc.

The Neighborhood can also be your stage. Create houses, parks, terrain and effects that set the right tone for the landscape of your movie.

The Cast

When you are creating your Sims - think about colors and contrast. You want to be sure that your main characters stand out in the scenes. Picking out bright outfits and making striking features is a great place to start.

Try using Body Shop to create some really unique skins and clothes, or use the in game Create-A-Sim to make your actors.


Camera Positions

Don't rely on the default camera positioning, while this angle is great for game play, it's not so interesting for filmmaking within The Sims 2. Experiment with Cameraman mode by hitting the tab key. You'll get more dramatic angles that help you tell your story and really pull in your audience.

Explore the FOV (Field of Vision), zoom, and pitch controls with these handy key commands:

(+) / (-) and z / x - these control the Field of Vision
Mouse movement - controls the pitch (the tilt of the camera)
The scroll button on the mouse - controls the level of zoom

And here are some other handy tricks:

Tracking - right click on the Sim's thumbnail in the UI to have the camera follow them. This gives a great follow-cam action.

Centering - right click on an object or Sim to center the camera around it. You can then rotate around the object or move towards it to get a very cool effect.

Explore the boundaries of Cameraman mode, go to the edges of the game, get inside objects, use your creativity to find new angles.

When you find a favorite camera angle for your shot save it. You can save up to six different camera positions by using the control key and pressing numbers [4-9]. This can help you manipulate as scene as needed without losing that spectacular angle you found. You many also want to explore the motion between the different camera positions. This can help you achieve the right sense of motion for your shot.

List of useful camera controls

Tab key - enable Cameraman mode

In Cameraman mode:
(+) / (-) and z / x - these control the Field of Vision
Mouse movement - controls the pitch (the tilt of the camera)
Scroll button on the mouse - controls the level of zoom

Other useful commands:
V - start/stop the video recording
Control [4-9] - save camera angles
ASDW and the arrow keys will move you forwards, backwards, and sideways
< > will allow you to rotate the camera around a center point

Setting the Scene

Think of the feeling you want your movie to have. Is it funny, quirky, happy, sad. Try and match the scenery and the objects to fit the story you want to tell.

Use colors that will not distract your viewers eyes from your main characters and create compositions that are balanced in the camera angles you choose.


Lighting your scenes

In movies, lighting can make a huge statement, so don't neglect this when you are setting up your scenes. Consider using dramatic lighting, and lighting from different angles (below, behind, from the sides) to draw attention, to set the mood, or to cast interesting shadows.

Don't be afraid to hide lots of different lights off camera. Play around with the different types of lights and the kind of light they can cast on your scenes. Experiment with ceiling vs. floor vs. table lamps, or combine all three.

If you are making your movie on a budget - this is not the place to conserve funds!

Quality, Size, and Speed

Movie Settings

Before you begin recording be sure you explore the camera options available in the Camera UI Options panel. Find the right combination of quality, file size, and effect on game speed when you are capturing.

You may want to run a few tests with different settings to find out what works best for you in your scene.

Remember - small movies, on a lower quality setting, with real-time compression and without audio will certainly be less taxing on your PC while you record.


If you have plenty of hard drive space - go for high quality uncompressed movies. They will look awesome!

If you need to conserve space - choose low or medium quality, and/or small or medium size movies.

Lights, Camera, Action!!!


Record more footage then you think you need. You never know what might be captured on film that you hadn't planned on filming. Sometimes this makes the best footage and the most interesting shots.

If you are conserving disk space, try writing up or drawing out a story board beforehand. This will give you a good sense of the flow of your movie ahead of time, and will limit the amount of extra footage you have to capture.

Consider the length of your shots and plan accordingly. Set the "cutoff timer" in the UI to the minimum amount of time you think you will need. This will avoid mistakenly filming until you're dangerously low on disc space.

Practice, practice, practice! Try out your shots a few times before you film them. This will help prepare you for anything unexpected, and will help you plan out your camera angles more effectively.

Always be ready to press P. Sometimes great moments happen in the game. The pause key can be your best-friend. It will allow you to get everything set up and you will be ready to record that spectacular moment!

A Little Cheating and a Little Imagination

Remember, interactions may mean one thing in the game, but they can be interpreted very differently in your film depending on your imagination.

Other cheats that might be helpful:
moveobjects [on/off] - allows you move everything and overlap objects, you can even move around Sims!
slowmotion [0-10] - 0 is normal speed, and time will become slower and slower as you approach 10.


Making the magic come alive

Free movie editors can be downloaded from the web and can work really well. There are also many great commercial editing products available, depending on your budget.

Most editing software offers effects like fades, dissolve and warps. Take advantage of any transitions and effects that come with your editing software to enhance your movie. And don't forget to add titles so you can get credit for your masterpiece!

Think about timing and speed when you make cuts. Use motion to your advantage, allow one scenes movement to lead into the next.

There are other tutorials online that offer the basics of film editing or you can take a class, so spend some time learning about film editing and your audience will enjoy the quality of your work even more.


Sometimes sounds make things look better! Sound can fill in many blanks in our minds and imaginations, and sometimes we think we see things simply because we are hearing them. So - don't underestimate the importance of adding a quality and well timed soundtrack to your movies.

Grab your favorite song, or use one of the songs in game. Browse the web for free sound effects to enhance your story. You can really set the mood of your movies through your music choices.

NOTE: The online tutorial had one more item--uploading your movie to the TS2 Exchange. This will no longer be possible, as of January 14, 2013, so I have skipped that item here. If you make a TS2 movie and want to share it, you may upload it here, as long as it is under 8 MB in file size. Otherwise, you can upload it to a file-sharing site, then link to it here.
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