Nixxiom talks machinima and making a life out of what you love
If you follow the world of machinima, you probably already know Nixxiom (and/or his partner in crime Moocluck) — or at least seen some of his videos. And if not, there’s no time like the present to look him up on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook. We’ve followed his movie-making adventures for years now, and were fortunate enough to catch up with him to talk about how and why he makes machinima — and to ask the all-important question of just where he finds the time.
What Blizzard games do you play, and as what?
Mostly I just play WoW, although I have put many hours into StarCraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone. I just don’t play those games as much. Funny thing is that I gave up on Hearthstone a few months after its release because my friend kept getting legendary after legendary in his card packs while I got nothing. Despite the fact I had even played the Hearthstone beta, I had yet to get a single legendary card, which made me super jealous and annoyed. Haha. I guess I’m just really unlucky!
As for what I play in WoW: Right now I’m playing a Balance Druid, a Frost DK (Nixxiom), a Frost Mage, and my glorious BM Hunter. Right now I’m leveling up my Hunter to cap and I must say, I’m having a ton of fun!
Why make Warcraft machinima?
The simple answer is that it’s fun to make and I do it for work, but there’s more to it than that. People don’t seem to realize this, but although I am self-employed at this point I actually still do work for someone: My girlfriend. We have a very long distance relationship and so when we first got together I realized that in order for me and her to ‘work’ I’d needed to make some money, go back to school, and more. When we first met each other I was broke, working at Target for minimum wage, and had no interest in an education. After meeting her however, I decided to turn my life around. I quit my job, I applied to go to college, and I started down a new road.
Looking back I can say this was the best decision of my life. I became an Honor Roll student in college, I eventually got a new job at Harris Teeter (a grocery store, for those that don’t know), and I started making YouTube videos on the side for a tiny bit of revenue. Back in those days I was happy to make a few dollars from YouTube to pay my cell phone bill, but as my channel grew I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, YouTube might be the means that me and her relationship could go from long distance to short. I continued to make videos, I set myself up on a consistent release schedule, and eventually I was able to quit my job at Harris Teeter because of the work I was putting in. Now I’m self-employed, making WoW machinima, Top 10’s, and other types of videos in order to have a future with the woman that I love. I can happily say that she’ll be moving over here to live with me in the coming months. It’s been a long road.
To anyone reading who ever liked one of my videos, shared it, or left a comment: Thank you. Your actions are what made me and her possible.
There are of course other reasons why I make my videos, but she is my primary motivator. I also make WoW machinima because I enjoy seeing the joy people experience when watching my videos and it reminds me of the joy I used to have while watching Oxhorn, Myndflame, and Martin Falch’s machinimas back in the day. Sometimes it’s weird for me to realize that I’m no longer the viewer, but the creator. I’m in my childhood heroes’ shoes. I must say, it’s a great honor and it humbles me greatly. I also make machinima to share my humor with others, as well as to share some of my views on things. Most don’t pick up on this, but my serious videos (Call of the Warrior, the Druid, Tree of Life, etc.) are extremely religious, but I decorate them in a way that the viewer will not realize it. To them it’s just a seriously made machinima, but to me it’s an expression of my ancestral beliefs.
How did you get started making machinima?
Like with many passions, it all starts by observing the passion first. Growing up I watched Oxhorn, Myndflame, and others, and these people, without realizing it, had a great impact on my life. I loved the humor and it got me through a very depressing time in my life when my parents were constantly threatening to divorce each other. WoW and watching WoW machinima was my escape from reality, if you understand my meaning. I guess because these videos were so special to me I just naturally wanted to give it a try, making them for myself. I booted up Windows Movie Maker, got Fraps, and just went nuts with recording.
Back in those days I just made crappy music videos, but eventually my machinima turned into something more serious. My machinima “Revenge” was my first ever seriously made machinima and it was so well received that Oxhorn featured it on Wegame’s weekly community content review, back when Wegame was still a website people visited. If I remember correctly, WoW Insider also featured it! You can imagine how excited I was reading all the “this sucks” and “ur dumb Nixxiom” comments. I loved every second of it and I wanted to make more to entertain/disappoint people. Haha. I can say that since those days my videos have greatly improved and my fans are some of the best in the world.
Did you make machinima for any other games before you started with WoW machinima?
So originally I was going to answer this question with “No, I didn’t” but then I remembered something… Oh boy… So you might have heard of this little Halo machinima series called Red vs Blue which was (and still is) pretty popular online. I remember watching those first episodes back when I was younger and thinking they were hilarious! So much so, I remember, that I actually attempted to make some Halo machinima of my own.
Picture this… I had this giant video camera (an early 1990’s camera; fit an entire VHS tape in it) and I had it mounted atop a pile of books, pointed at my TV. I got the alignment just right and I actually made VHS tape Halo machinima. I had completely forgotten about that until I read this question and went to answer it. So the answer is yes, I have. Halo machinima. As for what happened to those videos, well… I haven’t got a clue. They’re probably lost up in my parent’s attic right now, gathering dust.
How long have you been making machinima?
So if I consider the Halo machinima thing, I’ve been making machinima since 2003, I think. Twelve years has gone by so fast. In terms of my more serious machinima though, I started doing that back in BC/early Wrath, so 2008-2009 territory.
It’s been a long road and only recently have I become as big as I am now (since I started taking YouTube more seriously), but it’s been a ton of fun and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’ve also gotten to meet some really awesome people like Moocluck along the way. I’ll tell you this: Without Moocluck I would not be where I am today. Me or my girlfriend. No way. His help, his support, and all those hours spent in Skype calls discussing jokes is where all my video ideas come from. If I had never met him, I don’t know where I’d be today. He is the unsung hero of my channel.
Since you’re limited by in-game art and assets, how do you decide on settings and character looks?
I had a brief conversation with Terran Gregory over at Blizzard about this subject and something I believe (and he does as well) is that anything is possible, so long as you take the time to figure out how to do it. Is it possible to make a giant robot attack Stormwind like in my video “How to Make Easy Gold in World of Warcraft”? Of course! You just need to figure out how to make the shot work and sell it to the audience.
There’s a lot of 2D manipulation and clever model viewer tricks that allows me to create the videos I release. Really I don’t feel limited at all by the in-game art, nor its assets. Although, I admit, that a LOT of planning goes into every machinima. I’ll elaborate more on that point in the next question.
Could you give us a step-by-step on what’s involved in making a machinima?
This is how every video I make is created:
- Conjure a rough idea. No script. No nothing. “Nixxiom and Moocluck are sailing on ships. They shoot some cannons at each other.”
- Talk to Moocluck about it on Skype. He throws in his own two cents and I continue to toss in mine. “What if Nixxiom keeps killing all his crew members because he keeps making them walk the plank? That’d be funny.” “What if at the end of the video it was all pretend and it’s a pun on the shipyard in your garrison? Nixx and Moo are playing with toys and pretending they have epic ships they command, when they actually don’t since all the ships in the shipyard are stuck there? That sounds good.”
- Write up a script and send it over to Moocluck and whomever else is involved in the machinima. I do a lot of cameos.
- Start to storyboard. I storyboard out EVERY shot in the video before I make it, usually doing 20 shots every night. This takes around 6-7 hours depending on how complicated the shots are.
- Continue storyboarding and editing for 5-6 days.
- Finish the visual aspect of the video (all shots are done) and receive the VA (voice acting) for the video.
- Record my own VA during the evenings. Throat always hurts afterwards. Nixxiom’s voice is a pain to do for 45 minutes straight.
- Throw video clips, VA, and sound effects into Sony Vegas. Over the next day do all the sound design (which always takes longer than expected).
- Finish the video. Render it. Upload it to YouTube on my snail internet. I usually will take a nap while the video uploads (4 ½ hours to upload a 5 minute video) and I’ll wake up just in time to see that it’s finished. Then I’ll do the annotations, reply to a few comments, then go back to bed.
That is seriously my schedule for every video I release. It happens like that every single time to the letter. The video I was referencing in the example was “The South Seas” [above] for those who are curious.
How long does a typical video take to make? (And, tangentially, how do you find the time to make so much machinima?)
It all depends on length. A 10 minute machinima will probably take me 6-7 days to make, but a 3 minute one might be finished in 2-3. People don’t realize how much effort goes into making these videos but I seriously do work 40+ hours a week every week. No days off either, for those of you who are wondering. Machinima takes so long to make that once you’re done with one you need to immediately start on the next. Every night I’m up till 7 or 8 in the morning editing.
This is one reason why I started doing Top 10’s, discussion videos, and the leveling series. All of this makes it so I don’t get burnt out. As for how I find the time: I make the time. I personally am a very work-oriented person and I don’t smile on laziness or excuses. The moment I think “maybe I should work on my new video” is the moment I start working on it. I live a very ‘give 110% in everything you do’ lifestyle, which is something I think people who’ve met me notice very strongly. It may seem like a big workload, but I enjoy it and genuinely have fun seeing the joy and laughs I bring to people around the world. I entertain them and they allow me to do what I love for a living. It’s a good trade, I think.
What are you working on next?
Right now my biggest project that I’m working on is called “The Druid: Thought and Memory” which is based on a song I was given permissions to use. It’s a serious machinima, a very poetic one, and it deals a lot in death, life, memory, struggle, betrayal, and many other things. It’s a huge project though, so I’m forced to work on it in the background of my other videos. Slowly though it’s coming to life and I’m very excited to see what people think about the journey the Druid is going to take them on.
Other than that, I’m working on my How to: Class series, as well as the next episode of The Warlock [Editor’s Note: It’s done! Check it out here.], which is something people have requested for a long while now. And lastly, I’m planning on starting a Warcraft Lore machinima series which I’ll release the first episode of in the coming weeks. I’m still in the process of planning out ‘how’ the videos will work, but I’m making good progress. Actually I just finished a mock-up script for an episode, which I’ll be reviewing with Moocluck tomorrow. And so the cycle begins again!
That’s all for BlizzCrafts today — but check back next week for another selection of cool Blizzard-themed crafts! Have Blizzard arts and crafts of your own you’d like to see on Blizzard Watch? Send them our way– submissions and suggestions should be sent to liz at blizzardwatch dot com.
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