Toxic Avenger: The 90 Min GTA IV Movie

By Alec Meer on January 11th, 2011 at 7:00 pm.

Run, unconvincingly-accented Niko, run!

Two years for a little less than two hours: those are the numbers behind The Trashmaster, a feature-length machinima flick made entirely using GTA IV PC and its video tools. Owing a hard-to-miss debt to Scorsese and likely to be pulled from the internet by the Rolling Stones’ copyright lawyers any day now, this veritable labour of love is the flashy, violent tale of a vigilante garbageman, cleaning up whatever (i.e. whoever) the police can’t…

I’ve must confess I didn’t make it all the way through (it is, let’s be honest, far too long, and the voices oh god the voices the voices) but it’s enormously technically impressive. So much so that it’s impossible not to suspect it’s much, much more interested in stylised cinematography than involving narrative, with the painful voice acting a very distant third, but in visual terms it’s a huge success.

Creator Mathieu Weschler has made GTA IV’s frankly weird engine sing, presenting a dizzing array of camera angles, slo-mo and assorted post-processing, and demonstrating that, whatever other issues we had with GTA 4′s PC port, Rockstar sure packed a lot of detail into their city. The Trashmaster borrows liberally from every blockbuster you’ve ever heard of, but you just can’t fault the visual impressiveness.

An open plea to Machinima-makers – if you’re making something with lots of dialogue, please please please do everything, anything you possibly can to get hold of people who can actually act. It’s genuinely distressing to see something that someone’s put so much time, energy and passion into undermined by yours mates/family/crushes muttering woodenly in funny accents. Just because Michael Bay does it doesn’t mean you should. It’s never, ever worth cutting that corner. Also please don’t nick licensed music, cos some unsmiling suit-wearing man will come for you if your creation gets any attention.

That and its flabbiness aside, the Trashman is yer genuine magnum opus, and am impressive testament to what a game engine can convey once the limitations of shoulder-based player perspectives and icky interfaces are excised.

(Via Rockstar themselves.)

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35 Comments »

  1. Level85nerd says:

    That’s really impressive.
    I’ve always liked these kind of great machinimas. Really great.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I am disturbed by the Nazi parallels in Alec’s view of how to interact with the copyright Mafia.
      I tend to avoid these comparisons, since they rarely fit and are usually mistaken for the trolling they are mostly used in. But in this case it really reminded me of it, so I hope not to get a knee-jerk reaction.

      It is not Alec’s fault… obviously. He’s simply used to it, just as the Germans got used to the Nazi rhetoric, or as FOX News viewers think what they see is real, because they have seen it so often that they think it’s normal. I have no doubt that he’s a good man. A unlucky one, though.

      […] and likely to be pulled from the internet by the Rolling Stones’ copyright lawyers any day now.

      Now this goes way beyond simple copyright lunacy, into the territory of totalitarian mind control. I mean Rockstar encourages putting GTA videos online. So much that they built the functionality for uploading videos right into the game. But still Alec thinks that one would get, or even deserve, punishment for this. That’s how far the propaganda has reached. People really start to believe that companies would be in control over information. Which is physically impossible, but creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, which then makes it possible in the delusional world the subjects will live in.
      This is exactly how mindsets like the Nazi mindset started. Very sick sick delusional people with a huge confidence fed others FUD, until people started to believe it.
      Please don’t let us have this again.

      Also please don’t nick licensed music, cos some unsmiling suit-wearing man will come for you if your creation gets any attention.

      That’s like saying we should not uprise against the enemy, because he might punish us for it.
      The same rhetoric that all bullies use. The same logic used in racketeering. The same thing that was used by the SS to force people to act how they wanted it. But those who would give up their freedoms for a little (imaginary!) safety, deserve neither freedom, nor safety.

      The whole concept of “intellectual property” is foul to its core, and a capital crime that must not go unpunished. It is the key to totalitarian censorship / information control, because everyone can take everything down based on “copyright claims”. It harms the creators of intellectual works as much as consumers, as shown in countless studies. And I will support the Pirate Party and Wikileaks, until the criminals behind this are rightfully put behind bars themselves.

    • drewski says:

      I think Alec’s point is more than if you’re going to spend two years of your life building an insane machinma movie, putting unlicensed commercial music in it is a surefire way to make sure almost nobody actually gets to see it because, rightly or wrongly, it *will* get pulled as soon as the music lawyers notice it.

      There is a time and place for raging against the machine and sticking it to the man, but when trying to get your epic creative work out and seen by the public probably isn’t it. Unless your work is about raging against the machine and sticking it to the man, in which case you’re likely on a winner.

    • Colej_uk says:

      Copyright is there for a reason. At the end of the day The Rolling Stones or whatever music label own the rights to Gimmie Shelter because it’s THEIR WORK, and if they want to act and take this down for copyright violation, they do have the right to -as they should have.

      I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be great if the music industry in particular were a little more lax and forgiving over the use of their property, it sucks that you can’t just grab any song you want and use it how you wish in projects like this, yes, but you have to deal with it: It’s other people’s work, and it needs to be respected as such.

    • The Hammer says:

      “This is exactly how mindsets like the Nazi mindset started. Very sick sick delusional people with a huge confidence fed others FUD, until people started to believe it.
      Please don’t let us have this again.”

      Any patience I had of your Nazi parallels instantly evaporated when I read that. Get a sense of perspective, please.

    • shitflap says:

      Hear, Hear BAReFOOt, well said…

    • GoodPatton says:

      It could possibly make it past the lawyers by siting the Fair Use Copyright laws seeing as it was made in Montreal (proud to be born and raised), Canada.

    • GoodPatton says:

      Also, Barefoot…I think your comparison to Nazism and understanding of Copyright laws is fairly poor.

      First off, the fact that Rockstar may encourage the population to create these Machinimas (this one in particular being really impressive) doesn’t take away from the fact that the MUSIC is not owned by Rockstar and thus the Rights to it are not entitled for use without being paid for. The only way I could possibly see this not being the case is if the songs were included in the GTAIV soundtrack, which still doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be completely safe to use. I don’t think Alec is saying to anyone that they absolutely shouldn’t use Copyright music for their works, but rather as drewski said, if you’re going to create something that is such a labour of love as this Machinima obviously is, using Copyright music is a likely way to get it shelved by lawyers. Whether you like it or not and I’m not saying you should, this is more often the case especially in America.

      Secondly, I don’t believe you fully grasp what the concept of “Intellectual Property” is designed to do. As someone who is studying music and music law as I am a music producer and am working towards creating a stable and profitable career mixing and creating music for video games, myself and other artists, Intellectual Property laws are there to protect my works from theft and ensure I am rightfully paid for my hard work. I understand that seeing something like ” and likely to be pulled from the internet by the Rolling Stones’ copyright lawyers any day now.” can be downright unflattering especially concerning multi-million dollar rockstars who’s bankbook won’t at all be affected by this creative work, but these laws are here to protect peoples income whether we think it’s deserved or not. And this goes for any creator as well, be it graphic designers, photographers, comic book artists, software developer and so on.

      Let’s say you created some incredible piece of music that you know will be a hit and generate a nice income or some must have piece of tech, you are likely going to want to protect that from theft in the same way you’d want to protect your car or home from theft. Essentially that piece of music or tech is paying your bills. Now if some other company with a bigger marketing and development budget can just outright steal you idea and then out develop you, you are simply shit out of luck.

      Personally I have a love/hate relationship with Patents and Intellectual Property laws as I do believe more and more they are being used to hold important technological developments back as large companies can buy up patents and the shelve incredible new ideas especially in the medical field and Intellectual Property laws are being used more and more to hold creativity back. All art is inspired from older works and to prevent people from inspiring new creative ideas simply for more coin is a shame. But at the same time, I want to be able to create a reasonable career from my music and be able to live a decent life from their earnings, and to do so I need these laws to protect that income, especially in this age of rampant piracy.

      Being from Canada (Montreal, where this Machinima was made) we have Fair Use Copyright laws that state any Copyright material used in a creative work is alright as long as proper credit is made and that it doesn’t exceed a certain time limit. I fully support this as it allows for creative ingenuity as well as giving due credit to the originators works.

      Sorry about the rant, I hate doing this especially in a comment section, especially one for video games, but it’s a subject I think many people are grossly misinformed about.

      If you’re at all interested about this I suggest watching Rip!: A remix manifesto, a documentary on the subject of copyright laws. It’s free to watch in the link below and follows all sort of cases including the music artist Girl Talk (pretty awesome if you don’t already know him:) and Disney’s efforts to further restrict copyright laws.

      My copyright rant is done now.

      EDIT: Ha, obviously I would forget to post the link after such a rant, so here it is: http://films.nfb.ca/rip-a-remix-manifesto/

      I’d also like to point out that the Fair Use laws generally only apply to works which are NOT generating an income.

    • mwoody says:

      Jesus, so if people like BAReFOOT are pro-piracy… Excuse me while I go cancel a television torrent. I don’t want to be this kind of whackjob.

    • DiamondDog says:

      @BAReFOOt

      Interesting points, but Alec didn’t say anything about the guy deserving punishment. That’s just a lie to prop up your argument.

      Fighting the man is all well and good but it doesn’t change the reality of the current state of things.

    • theleif says:

      Thank you barefoot. I thought i was the only one thinking Alec = Goebbels. Remove The M and the r from his surname and add Go.bb.ls, What do you get? Exactly. Now i can only hope others will see the truth.
      Stand up for the truth, or get your asses anschlussed!

  2. Unaco says:

    Oh my. That is some truly, truly horrendous voice ‘acting’. I’m not sure I can watch this… I’ve got as far 1:00 in, and that first voice, and the first two sentences, are just too much. I wish I knew French, then I could mute it and just read the subtitles.

    • Unaco says:

      Ok… after the opening dialogue (3 or 4 sentences) the main character doesn’t really say anything for a good 6 or 7 minutes. I was able to watch that. Wasn’t too bad… can tell a lot of work has gone into it, and I applaud that. But, it does feel like a Michael Bay film… I know it’s not meant to be Tarkovsky’s Stalker or anything… Hopefully that means there is very, very, very little dialogue, and, instead, lots of slo-mo, and gunshots, and people falling from buildings, or people getting shot of buildings in slo-mo.

  3. noodlecake says:

    Just trying to figure out what accent the main guy is supposed to have. It sounds like a French guy trying to do a generic American accent. Yeah… It’s a shame about the voice acting… And script. I would’ve liked to have watched this otherwise.

  4. Alez says:

    While watching this, my computer suddenly shut down, like a power outage but nothing else in my room was affected. I guess my computer just couldn’t resist to that horrible voice acting so it tried to kill itself. I can take a hint, not trying to watch that again until they have better voices.

    But everything else about this is impressive. Rockstar should give them the money to license the songs and hire them to do the TV programs in the next game.

  5. Dozer says:

    Watched the first few minutes while also attempting to KeepVid it then realised that life is too short. Didn’t help that the first scene is set in a bank where the mission I got stuck on takes place. I’ve seen enough of that stupid bank!

  6. President Weasel says:

    I’m sure the Rossignol will already be aware of Clear Skies, another magnum opus – this one using a mixture of the Eve Online and Half Life 2 engines: http://www.clearskiesthemovie.com/
    That one’s got some excellent voice acting, and it’s worth checking out if you like things that are good.

    • SAM-site says:

      Clearly our definitions of excellent voice acting differ somewhat.

    • President Weasel says:

      Fair point. With the obvious caveat *for machinima* then – yes, the voice acting is done by friends and family rather than skilled voice actors, but time and effort and love have gone into doing a decent job of it. There’s even a blooper roll somewhere of where they messed up and had to do retakes.

  7. Emperor_Jimmu says:

    Interestingly I thought of it as a film made by people within the GTA4 universe rather than somebody from our world using the game engine as a tool. What really highlighted this, and how familiar I became with that world (after spending 50+ hours in it) was when editing broke rules of the world; it had the same effect as noticeable inaccuracies in live action films. I found my self saying ‘that wouldn’t happen’, or ‘that isn’t there’ and awful lot.

    Obviously I was only able to skip through it; as an entertainment product it is useless.

  8. Big Murray says:

    Thing is … the opening 10 minutes, if you ignore the voice acting (which is pretty easy considering there isn’t much talking for most of it) … it could actually make a pretty decent movie. I could buy into “The Trashmaster”.

    Unfortuantely, I could tell it wasn’t going to be any good, considering the quality of the voice-acting, so I’ve left it with those pretty awesome opening 10 minutes. At least that good first impression will remain intact.

  9. Muzman says:

    Impressive and skillful at times, but it’s worn me out by the 25 minute mark, since virtually nothing has happened by then (as Mark Kermode would say, by then 2001 has gone from early hominids discovering tools to space travel) . I’ll give it another go later, but I’m willing to bet that if you excised all the annoying “introductory” voice over montages that just keep going and going and going it’s a pretty good 40 minute movie.

  10. skinlo says:

    Voice acting isn’t that that bad. You can’t expect Oscar winning performances.

  11. GoodPatton says:

    Voice acting aside, I was quite impressed as a whole, especially with the cinematography. A lot of time and care was taken in the setup of the shots and transitions, really nice.

    It’s a bit of a shame that the actual story progression wasn’t a little more concise or the story itself wasn’t so far fetched and ridiculous.

    I definitely look forward to another Machinima from him!

  12. Polysynchronicity says:

    racistman3d will always have a special place in my GTA4 heart

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPVAdM43kQs

    read description for full effect

  13. The Dude says:

    Seeing how this is a 500 freaking mb download, is there a way to download it in a resumable format that doesn’t involve various browser hacks (DownloadHelper) to download streaming videos?

    Because there’s no way I’m getting this download done in a day.

  14. Shazbut says:

    I’m an actor myself. Do you know how easy it is to find decent actors? Hell, provided you can get through our agents, the money often isn’t even an issue. I wish I knew why there was so much bad voice acting around.

    I mean, Amnesia, for God’s sake. They clearly went for the highest possible standard in every area of design and then cast what seem to be non-professional actors. What on earth for? Give me a call, fools. My CV speaks for itself.

  15. Dubbill says:

    Bonus points for them using a Wilhelm scream.

  16. destroy.all.monsters says:

    I could overlook the voices for the most part but the lack of a voice or any lines for the female lead of the police lieutenant made it a bit more one sided and hurt immersion. The film needs a lot of editing and the ending lacks focus.

    Overall it’s an impressive piece of work and I can see that he thought a lot about each shot.

  17. Chemix says:

    The voice acting is… well, it’s not that its… it’s…
    the voice drones on in monotone.

    Aside from that, the excessive cinematic pans (it’s good in some cases, but half the film is panning around random areas to the narration), the lack of believable responses, and the molotov with a 1 foot splash radius, it wasn’t too bad; kinda reminded me of ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’

  18. HexagonalBolts says:

    The music is fantastic! Does anyone have a list of what songs are in it?

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