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Lojbanimation

Every time I go to a convention, there is usually an anime room. Sitting in there watching the otaku enjoy subtitled animation from Japan, I am impressed by how powerfully this medium spreads a foreign language through other cultures. I think back to the anime conventions I've visited and consider the classes on Japanese that they teach there! An entire subculture exists online, called "fansubbing", for amateur hobbyists to translate Japanese culture into English and other languages before it is officially released.

For another example, audiences hear Klingon spoken with subtitles in Star Trek, or Quenya spoken with subtitles in The Lord of the Rings, and are captivated by the setting that language creates. Not only could Lojban gain the speakers that it needs by using this effect, it's fun to create a film.

Animation once required prohibitive amounts of time and money. But with the advent of machinima, that's no longer true, if you're willing to settle for relatively crude computer animation. Machinima is a technique for recording a video game while you control it with a joystick or mouse, and then dubbing your own voices onto the action. It's as if the video game characters were being used as puppets. See Wikipedia's entry on Machinima(external link).

There now exist programs which exist for nothing but machinima. "The Movies(external link)" lets you choose characters, props and backgrounds which you can puppeteer to create your own film. Online virtual worlds such as "Second Life(external link)" and "There(external link)", while they are used for far more than machinima, are so customizable that they now serve as ideal platforms for it. Google SketchUp(external link) is an incredibly easy 3D modeling program that I have learned how to operate. It can be used to create avatars, props, sets and other models to be imported into machinima software.

Hence I imagined Lojban's answer to Japanimation: "Lojbanimation" or {lojbo skina}. An ideal source material would be a short story rather than a novel. In it, the characters should have some reason to speak an artificial language, rather than have English speakers inexplicably speaking Lojban instead. Another ideal aspect would be a story released under a Creative Commons license that allows free copying and derivative works.

I know of no work that meets all these criteria unless we write one ourselves. The best candidate I know of is "Fossil Games" by Tom Purdom, although it's fully copyrighted. The characters live so long that they learn several artificial languages, so it would be a minor
alteration to change the story to have them speak Lojban all the time. The sets are easy to build because they're all either indoors or in an empty Mars-like desert. The story has fascinating political drama, hard science, eye-catching characters, and robot combat. It has a
crunchy technological coating and a chewy philosophical center which would pull a viewer into the Lojban mystique and culture.

Much of the work could be distributed among multiple people who become excited about this project. It would require:

1: Finding or writing a story.

2: Converting it into a screenplay format with dialog and voiceovers.

3: Drawing storyboards.

4: Translating the script into Lojban.

5: Modeling the characters, props and sets in 3D.

6: If we decide to use Second Life, probably purchasing land and paying to put the models in it.

7: Puppeteering and recording the models in machinima software such as Second Life.

8: Recording our voices acting the Lojban script.

9: Editing it all together with music and English subtitles.

10: Posting it to Youtube(external link), Google Video(external link), and Internet Archive(external link) under a liberal license like CC-Zero(external link).

11: Submitting the link to my friend Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing.net who will probably blog the $#14 out of it.

12: Welcoming the influx of newbies.

- Matt Arnold AKA epkat


Created by Eppcott. Last Modification: Thursday 08 of May, 2008 05:48:00 GMT by DPic.