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Forum Home > Sims 3 Machinima Lessons - Beginner > Machinima: Learning The Basics (Beginner)

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This lesson will teach you the very simple basics of beginning machinima and will show you how to put everything together to make a complete video.  This tutorial covers the following subjects.

  • Preparing for filming
  • Recording video clips
  • Editing in Windows Movie Maker


Many tutorials will not show you what to do BEFORE filming but I think one of the most important aspects of making machinima is in preparing for the filming process.  Preparing your game and your sims for filming will make it a lot easier for you as a director in the long run.   


Before you begin, there are several things that must be mentioned.  First, I always recommend turning off the plumbob and the thought bubbles.  Unless your story involves the plumbob or specifically follows your sim's thought bubbles, it is best to turn them off.  It will make your video more realistic and less like you are just filming gameplay.  Second, always film with walls up.  Again, this will help make your story more realistic.

  • To hide the plumbob and thought bubbles, open the cheat console by pressing SHIFT+CTRL+C
  • Type in the following cheat:  hideheadlineeffects on

Fulfilling your sim's needs and keeping them fulfilled is a must during filming.  Eating, sleeping and using the restrooms take up a lot of your sim's time (plus your own time) and only interrupts the movie making process.  Unless you want to, it is not necessary that you watch and wait for your sims to perform these deeds.  There is a cheat that you can use to fulfill ALL your sim's needs and lock those needs in place.  Your sims will never want to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom again and you will have better continuity while filming your movie.

  • To fulfill your sim's needs, open the cheat console by pressing SHIFT+CTRL+C
  • Type in the following cheat:  testingcheatsenabled true
  • Hold down SHIFT and click on the mailbox (note that your sim must own a home lot and you must click on the mailbox on his home lot)
  • A menu with several options will pop up after you click on the mailbox, choose the option Make Needs Static, watch as your sims' needs are fulfilled.  Needs will stay fulfilled until you change it to Make Needs Dynamic.  

EXTRA TIP: After you have entered the cheat 'testingcheatseanabled true' you can also SHIFT+CLICK anywhere in the neighborhood and teleport your sim to that location instantly.  This will help save time instead of waiting for your sim to travel to the location.


The next thing I strongly suggest you do before filming is turn off free will.  Turning off free will prevents your sim from walking off in the middle of a conversation or in the middle of a crucial scene.  It also gives you total control of what your sim will do or not do.  As a director, you do not want your actor rebelling or fighting you every step of the way.

  • To turn off free will open up your Options Menu and pick Options.  That will bring up the Options Window.  Go to the Game Options tab.  There will be a slider for Autonomy Level, slide it all the way to the left to turn it Off.


Many people are still unaware that there is a built in video camera in The Sims 3 that can record everything your sims do.  You DO NOT need a screen capture video application to record videos.  There is also an intuitive Cameraman Mode in The Sims 3 that takes Sims movie making to the next level.  (Cameraman Mode will be addressed in a different tutorial)


  • To activate the video camera and start recording, simply press V on your keyboard
  • To stop recording, press V again

That's pretty easy, right?  But there are some factors that I'd like to mention.  I recommend recording short video clips that are around 15 seconds long.  Depending on your computer and how much memory it has and your game settings, longer clips will make your computer start to lag.  I myself, have recorded clips anywhere from 5 to 45 seconds long but find my computer works best if I keep my clips around 15 seconds.  You are welcome to experiment and test your limits but that is what I recommend from my own experience.


A note on video quality and settings.  To get the BEST video quality, set your Video Capture Quality to uncompressed.  This option will record videos at the highest level of quality.  This option may not be appropriate for all computers because the files are quite huge.  In my estimation, 50 video clips (each about 10 secs long) take up roughly 10 gigs of hard drive space.  I use a 750 gig back up flash drive to store all my clips and work off of the back up drive during editing.  Again this option is not for everyone as all computers may not be able to handle the monster size files.       


DIRECTING TIP:  It is a good idea to pause your game and your sims' actions while you set up the camera.  There is no need to record the camera crashing through walls or objects.  This only wastes hard drive space and is unnecessary.  Keep the game paused until you have moved your camera into the perfect position.  When you are ready, unpause and then quickly press V to record all the action.  Sometimes, you can have your sims repeat the actions and film from a different position to figure out the best shot and give yourself more variety to pick from during the editing stage.



This is where all the magic happens!!  Putting your movie together and making it all come to life happens in this step.  So Okay, you have recorded a bunch of Sims 3 movie clips, what do you do with them?  You need a video editing software.  I've chosen to use Windows Movie Maker for this tutorial because it's readily available, easy to use and a decent editor for beginners.  This is a very quick run through of WMM, if you need more help with specific areas of the program itself, you may refer to it's help files.


Open up WMM and import your video clips.  At the bottom of WMM you will see a timeline and there are 3 tracks indicating video, audio and title or text.  Select the video clip you want and drag it into the timeline where it says video.  Don't forget to trim out unnecessary parts of the clip by dragging in the edges or splitting the clip.  Keep adding clips to the timeline and start forming your story.  During this process, you may add transitions and video effects that are available in the program.    


You can add music before or after placing your video clips.  Placing music first may be a good idea as you can adjust the video to the music's beat and rhythm.  To add music or audio is simple.  Import the music you want and again just drag and drop the audio into the timeline where it says Audio/Music.


To add a title or text, go to Tools and select Titles and Credits.  You will be given several options on what kind of text you want to place, like a title or credits or subtitles.


I encourage you to play and experiment until you are happy with your movie.  Make as many adjustments as is needed.  Once the movie is ready in WMM, it is time to export your movie as a .wmv file.  Go to File, Save Movie File and the program will run you through the rendering process.  .wmv files are playable in Windows Media Player and is the format that you can upload to youtube.  Now you are ready to share your Sims 3 video with the world!!  



This tutorial is written by Sylentwhysper in collaboration with the Simatography Staff, Simatography members and the Simming Community.



October 24, 2011 at 9:14 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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