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INFORMATION PACKET for Machinima Makers FALL 2015

Welcome to the Sims International Film Festival and thank you for your interest in showcasing your talent and creativity with us. We hope that you will find this to be a fun experience as we celebrate the vast creative talent within our Sims community. SIFF has been alive since 2010 and is growing stronger and bigger every year. We run two cycles each year and since we are originating in North America we call the seasons Spring and Fall. To avoid confusion for those in the southern hemispheres of the world, Spring is in March and Fall is in September. SIFF does not discriminate based on level of talent. Yes, we do have voting and winners and awards, but it is VERY IMPORTANT to us that you know that our primary goal is and always will be to showcase all talent, and to encourage everyone to feel proud of their accomplishments, whether you win an award or not. SIFF is about celebrating creativity, sharing and learning together and about being inspired. Over the years we have run into a few snags, and we have gotten feedback from many of you. While we cannot solve all issues, and there is always the chance of new concerns arising, we hope that this information package will help make the process more easy to understand and less frustrating. Please keep this handy as a reference as there is quite a bit of helpful information here for you.

Happy Machinima Making and Good Luck at the festival!

IMPORTANT DATES SIFF Spring / March Cycle Film submission forms accepted starting January 1st Deadline for submission forms - March 1st Film Release date - March 15th and no later than March 20th Viewer’s Choice Polls for film trailers and posters - March 1st until March 15th

Viewer’s Choice Polls for all machinima categories - March 21st - March 31st SIFF Fall / September Cycle Film submission forms accepted starting July 1st Deadline for submission forms - September 1st

Film Release date - September 15th and no later than September 20th Viewer’s Choice Polls for film trailers and posters - September 1st -15th Viewer’s Choice Polls for all machinima categories - September 21st - 30th

TABLE OF CONTENTS Part 1 - The Rules

Part 7 - SIFF Branding

Part 2 - Censorship and Viewer Discretion

Part 8 - Other Fun Stuff

Part 3 - How to Enter - Submission Form

Part 9 - Award Structure

Part 4 - The Categories, 4A - Masters

Part 10 - Voting Polls Do’s and Don’ts

Part 5 - Voice Actor Submissions

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Part 6 - Promotion and Sharing

YOUR SIFF CHECKLIST  Know the Rules - SIFF Machinima Information Packet on ISSUU  Submit your film to using the correct format  Important Dates - are listed inside the Machinima information Packet  Viewer Warnings for any content that may not be suitable for all audiences  Do not share publically before March/September 15th and 20th  Check the Playbill on our website and be sure that your information is listed correctly  Check your email regularly so that you don’t miss any important updates  Follow us on our website or social media sites to be sure that you know what is going on

 Check for the weekly-ish SIFF Buzz Tabloid and YouTube video updates for fun SIFF news and promotions  Promote your film with a poster and trailer - find the details on our website.  Let your voice actors know that they can enter themselves into SIFF  If you use SIFF or Simatography branding please respect our guidelines

 Consider publishing an alternate on Vimeo if your machinima contains licenced music as these often get blocked in some parts of the world  IMPORTANT - please read part 10 Voting Polls Do’s and Don’ts - integrity and fairness is very important to us.  Review the Frequently Asked Questions  Email if you have questions

PART ONE: THE RULES - THE MOST IMPORTANT PART (Voice Actors should go to the Voice Actor section on page 16) Your SIFF submission must be a NEW machinima project that has NOT been seen or previously released to the public. 

Submission forms will be accepted until March 1st for Spring and September 1st for Fall - no film submissions will be accepted after this date. This does not mean that the film has to be completed by this date. In order for your form to be accepted you MUST follow the format exactly. 

Release date for SIFF film viewing is March 15th (not later than the 20th) for the Spring and September 15th (not later than the 20th) for the Fall. This means that films must NOT be released prior to this date - we want to build a lot of suspense and anticipation before your BIG premiere. 

SIFF is an all ages festival. DO NOT forget to review the censorship section on the next page. This is becoming more important as we grow. 

Language and Subtitles - If your film is not in English, you must include English subtitles. Films in other languages are eligible for the SIFF Star for Foreign Film. 

ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR SUBMISSIONS Each entry should be a stand alone story unless you are submitting an episode for the series category. If you are submitting a film you will be disqualified if it is submitted incomplete. This means that you must finish your machinima. If it is not completed, then back out and re-enter it next season. 

Movies that are in multiple parts will be accepted if it is clear from the start that this is your intention. For example films like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games are not a series, but each book is released as a separate film. You may do this, but please make it clear. 

Your machinima MUST be rendered in The Sims - You can use editing effects, but the film itself, the sets and the animations are expected to be filmed in The Sims games. Footage from other game platforms or programs such as MMD will not be accepted. 

YouTube is the platform used by SIFF you are welcome to also upload anywhere else you wish, and we encourage music videos be shared also on Vimeo as an alternative since there can be issues with some countries not being able to view music videos, as well as copyright issues with songs. 

DIRECT ALL QUESTIONS to our email at

PART TWO - CENSORSHIP and VIEWER DISCRETION Be respectful that we have fans that are children and that not everyone wants to see violence and other mature themes. We are not an adult film festival. We will disqualify your film if it contains:  any intention to be hurtful or offensive  rape, incest or unconsented sex (tasteful sexuality and love are acceptable and should be shown with discretion and not with shocking scenes)

anything that supports racism, homophobia or bullying (you can submit films with these topics if the message is positive or educational, but not something that shows that these things are good or acceptable)  pornographic images, no matter how small - this includes full view of sexual intercourse or sex organs/body parts (no penis mods, sex animations and no 50 Shades of Grey)  excessive, unnecessary swearing (the occasional swear word as we might here in usual real life stressful situations is acceptable) 

The following themes MUST INCLUDE A WARNING MESSAGE directly in the introduction of the machinima. No exceptions.  course language, violence, nudity, sexuality, mature subject matter, themes that are not suitable for all audiences, blood and gore, etc. Films should conform to the YouTube Terms of Use. We don't want to give YouTube any reason to pull your film.

From the STAFF PeacemakerIC, Minraed Arzhel, Gus Rockman, Jorgha Haq and Lunxi


THE EMAIL SUBJECT LINE : the subject line of your email to us MUST be exactly in this for-mat. This is very, very important.  YES - your user name - film title example: “Minraed - Goodnight Moon “  NO - “SIFF Entry” , “My SIFF Film” , we will only accept the correct format

It is impossible to keep things organized in our mailbox without this. If you do not do this exactly you will be asked to resubmit. 

THE EMAIL CONTENT: answer each of the following questions within the body of your email:  Your user name here at Simatography  The name you would like to see listed as the creator/director of your film. For example: Gus Rockman uses Brainstrip Pictures while Sylent Whysper uses her name Sylent Whysper as the director.  The title of your machinima and the Genre (horror, drama, etc)  The category that your film will be entered into (see the page 12 for categories) (For Masters of Machinima - Long or Short - see page 14)  Sims 2 or Sims 3 or Sims 4 machinima  Are you a newbie Sims machinima maker (less than 5 films)  Which country are you from?  a link to your YouTube page

note: if you use another site rather than YouTube for hosting your videos your submission will not be able to be shown on our YouTube page so keep this in mind. We apologize for any inconvenience. 


IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT EMAILS  Soon after you submit you will receive a confirmation email. Please DO NOT DELETE this email. Use the same email for all back and forth discussions about your film. DO NOT start a new email for every question. REPLY to this confirmation email with any further questions or discussions.  If you have any general questions you can email us at this email address.  If you really want a quick answer you can try Minraed Arzhel or Jorgha Haq if you see us on Facebook or elsewhere, but please be patient. We may be busy. Be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube

NOTE - SUBMISSIONS FOR VOICE ACTORS Voice actors will find separate guidelines in a later section of this document. Please refer to page X for details.


We subscribe to your YouTube channel, so we will find your submission. You do not need to email us when your film is released. (do not release it before the premiere date) We add links to your trailer and finished production onto the Playbill on our website and we add it to our YouTube playlist. YOU are responsible for double checking the playbill, if you see any errors then please inform us so that we can correct it.

PART FOUR: THE CATEGORIES You MUST identify if your submission is a FILM, MUSIC VIDEO, SERIES, MEP, MISCELLANY or AD. In the past there has been some confusion about which category your submission falls into so please consider the following: FILM - A unique story either taken from a real life film or story, or something you came up with yourself. It may be set to music, it may include voice acting, it may be set to a single song and yet not actually be a music video. The key here is that the focus is on the story and the characters. It should be a complete, finished, stand -alone story. If it will be part of a series, like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games then you must make it clear from the start. MUSIC VIDEO - Think about the music videos you see on television, they often tell a story, but are presented in a more abstract or artistic way, often showing the band playing. Check out the YouTube channel of the Sims3 band NOISE (click HERE) to see a variety of styles of music video to inspire you. In a music video the focus is on the band and the song and if there is a storyline it will usually be an interpretation of the lyrics. SERIES - If you enter a series you have two choices: you can enter a first episode to a new series you are launching (a great way to use SIFF to help build up hype) OR you can submit your next episode of your series, but it must NOT have been previously released, this next episode will release on the film premiere date (March 15 or September 15th) NOTE: We will separate the playbill into NEW series (pilot episodes) and ESTABLISHED series - voting polls will also reflect this. Masters of Machinima - see the next page for your category guidelines

MEP- Multi-editor projects. Machinimas made with parts by a number of different film makers. (When you submit, please list all contributing film makers in your email submission and their country of origin if you know it) MISCELLANY - If you have another machinima creation that you want to showcase this is where it will be listed. This is the category for art or abstract films, fashion videos, home tours, a poem set to machinima or anything else that isn't really a film, music video or series. Here are some examples (click to find them on YouTube): Light Stage Project by Stiles Sorry Mom by NavyCISFan October Tale by Jor’gha ADVERTISEMENTS AND PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS - Advertisements may be released anytime during the SIFF Buzz leading up to the film premieres. Advertisements might include an ad for your website, a fashion ad, a promo for your Sims story or machinima series etc. It could be a Sims version of a real-life style ad or for a Sims object. Let your imagination run wild! And check out these excellent examples: watch the WOOHOOIUM commercial HERE watch the Manscaping with Duct Tape commercial HERE See many more hilarious examples HERE on our PLAYLIST If you are not sure which category to submit to then please email us

PART FOUR A : MACHINIMA MASTERS Machinima Masters is open only to those who have already been awarded this title.

What makes a Machinima Master? The staff have debated this behind the scenes for quite some time to list some of the things we have decided make a Master:  Previous machinimas that make us say "wow" and are a true inspiration to us.  Excellence in editing skills including film editing (music, sound, voice and video)  Interesting and unique camera work.  Good lighting techniques when filming in game.  Attention to detail in set design and wardrobe.  Interesting and unique story lines.  While special effects are not a necessity, if they are used they are used with top notch skill.  All previously titled Machinima Masters will be added to this category from that point on. New Machinima Masters are inducted at the end of each season based on the votes of a panel of judges who are already Masters themselves.

Why separate some into this category? The main inspiration for moving some machinima makers up to this category was to allow for a more comfortable and fun competitive environment for newcomers and machinima makers with less skill and experience. We never want any of you to feel that you cannot participate in SIFF because you are not good enough, or could never make machinima that is as good as someone else. Everyone, of all skill levels should feel welcome.

It is time for ...

CATEGORIES FOR MASTERS Masters of Machinima submissions tend to be smaller in number, so dividing into too many categories doesn’t make sense. With much contemplation and input from some of our Masters, we have decided to trial two categories this season. We look forward to your feedback after this season. FULL LENGTH - Long films with an in-depth story line, or an episode of a series. Full length films are those that are approximately 15 minutes or longer. (see note on length below) SHORT LENGTH - Music videos, short films and other miscellaneous videos fall into this category. These tend to be stories set to one song or perhaps a poem, and of course music videos always fall into this category. The reasoning for this separation is that we felt that the really great short films and music videos were not getting recognition as they are overshadowed by the big productions that we see in the full-length category. This makes sense since these really are two very different types of machinima and cannot fairly be compared. NOTE about times/duration - if you are not sure which category you fall into, or if your time falls just short or just over the suggested time limits don’t worry. We can work together to find the best category. We will not be sticking hard and fast to one time cutoff. For example, a series episode may come up at 13 minutes, but would clearly fit into the full-length category as it would not compare to a poem or music video.

PART FIVE - VOICE ACTOR SUBMISSIONS We are still in the experimental stage with voice actors and are trying new things this season to make it more fun and fair for voice actors. VOICE ACTOR CATEGORIES Separate category for Male and Female Separate category for Lead Role or Supporting Role HOW TO SEND A VOICE ACTOR SUBMISSION 

THE EMAIL SUBJECT LINE : the subject line of your email to us MUST be exactly in this for-mat. This is very, very important.  YES - your user name - SIFF (male or female) VA example “Minraed - SIFF FEMALE VA “  NO other variations please - we will only accept the correct format

It is impossible to keep things organized in our mailbox without this. If you do not do this exactly you will be asked to resubmit. 

THE EMAIL CONTENT: answer each of the following questions within the body of your email:  Your name as a Voice Actor and a link if you have a website or blog  List up to THREE voiced roles - only films submitted to THIS season of SIFF will count. If you voice many, list only your best THREE. Tell us the FILM TITLE and YOUR CHARACTER NAME and LEAD or SUPPORTING Role  Optional Request - please ask the film maker to provide you with a picture or two of your character in action. We love using these to promote you.


PART SIX: PROMOTION AND SHARING While we will dedicate a certain amount of time to promoting you, YOU are also responsible for promoting your own film. We also appreciate help in promoting SIFF in general. The suggestions below are strongly encouraged. YOU are responsible for following our threads to keep updated on our promotions.


 

Film trailers are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as they get a lot of attention. We share these during our promotional phase and we link them to the playbill to get the fans excited. Get the details in the SIFF section of our website forums. All film trailers submitted before March 1st for Spring and September 1st for Fall will be eligible for voting. Make your trailer 2 minutes or less and we encourage that you use real life film trailers to inspire your format. Here are a few examples of some we have loved on our YouTube playlist SIFF MACHINIMA TRAILER EXAMPLES

SOCIAL MEDIA - We are on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and the Sims 3 forums. We encourage you tag us so that we can re-tweet or share your promotions.


MUST be A4 page size - Google for dimensions) Info is found in our forums in the SIFF section - be sure to post it where it belongs or it will be missed All film posters submitted before March 1st for Spring and September 1st for Fall will be eligible for this voting We will use your poster on the playbill and in many other promotions.

TIP - we love posters that look like real life film posters. Feel free to get help from friends with good graphic art skills. Music videos and miscellaneous submissions might not use this film style, but can still make stylish posters TIP - for inspiration be sure to look back in our past publications and SIFF archives on our website to see what people have done in the past.

PART SEVEN : SIFF BRANDING We do not expect or demand that you use SIFF or Simatography in your film productions or promotional materials, but we do appreciate it when you do. When more people know about SIFF, more people will discover your machinima so it benefits us all. USE OF OUR LOGOS - IMPORTANT NOTES 

Use only the current branding and logos as found on our brand assets page. Do not modify the logo in any way. We worked very hard on these and, like any company, our brand is our own and should not be altered. Guidelines for use can be found on the linked brand assets page.

BRANDING AND THE RED CARPET We have Red Carpet photo walls available for your use with our logos. We don’t demand that all Red Carpet photos are taken with this backdrop, in fact we encourage creativity and uniqueness, but we do ask that you use our logo walls as the official backdrop as they contain our most up to date logo set.

PART EIGHT: OTHER FUN STUFF There are a number of totally optional, but we think fun, ways of getting involved in SIFF other than just by producing machinima. Be sure to check out and follow our forums for details on getting in on the action.

RED CARPET - A big part of the SIFF fun is the Red Carpet photography. This is never mandatory , but having your stars show up on the Red Carpet can be a fun way to let people know about your actors and create a fun roleplaying aspect to your film. You will find the details in the SIFF section of our website forums.

FILM SCREENSHOTS - If you have some great screenshots of your machinima then feel free to share them. We like to use these in the SIFF Buzz publications. You can start up an album in our website gallery.

PART NINE: AWARDS STRUCTURE Our intention is not to give the message that winning an award is the main goal for SIFF. We say this often, but it is very important to us to know that everyone’s creativity deserves to be celebrated so it is not only the awards that matter, but people really would not be happy with SIFF if there were not something to strive for., and our fans and viewers love to be able to vote for their faves. Finalized details will be made available on our site closer to the date. Viewer’s Choice Awards 

Best Film Trailer, Best Film Poster 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each of the Machinima Categories (films, series, MEP, music)

Masters of Machinima - 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in both short and long categories

Judges Pick and Special Recognition Awards These awards are considered to be very special and are meant to showcase some of the most promising talents and skills presented at SIFF in categories that we consider worthy of technical merit. 

Most promising NEW machinima maker

Effects, post production, cinematography, sound track and sound editing and more.

PART TEN : VOTING POLLS DO’s and DON’Ts SIFF’s main vision is to be a festival to celebrate and showcase the talents of machinima makers of all skills and styles. We also feel very strongly about fairness and a supportive community spirit. In past seasons we have seen some upsetting trends in the viewer’s choice voting polls that we hope to avoid. Please consider the following when it comes time for your friends and fans to vote: 

Winning isn’t the primary goal - only a small handful of entries WIN, but everyone’s submissions are worth of appreciation and we would not have a festival without each and every one of you You should always feel proud of the hard work you put into your project, no matter how it turns out. You should be proud of your creativity, and of your willingness to learn new things - even if you don’t WIN Getting 100 friends to just vote for YOU without watching anything else isn’t something to be proud of - all you have accomplished is to prove that you have a lot of friends who know how to click on a voting poll. If you do this and the video that should have won gets bumped, then it is unfair to that person who put in the hard work and deserved to win fairly. It is totally fair to ask your friends to vote. Tell them about SIFF, invite them to watch a variety of machinimas, then to vote for their faves. All polls will force a set number of votes to be cast. Some people have THOUSANDS of followers, and yes they may win more votes because of this, but it is not unfair - these people have built that following by making great machinima. This could be you in the future. Keep at it. We monitor the polls daily. We know when “cheating” is happening and we will act on this. We will ensure that the voting is fair for all.

FAQ - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS What if a Staff person enters SIFF - is that fair? SIFF staff will never be forbidden to enter into SIFF because we want to join in on the fun too. Those with suitable machinima skills will be placed into the Machinima Masters category to help keep the playing field fair. Also, since Staff are the ones who vote for the Special Recognition awards they will not be eligible for these awards as that would obviously not be fair. We will celebrate the talents of the staff submissions in another way. The staff submissions WILL be included in the Viewer’s Choice polls however since the staff have no control or influence over the outcome of the fan votes.

Can I use nudity in my machinima? Mild and tasteful nudity that plays a role in the story you are telling will not be censored, however, use of nudity for shock value or to show explicit sex will not be accepted. We ask that all films with any form of nudity have a warning attached so that viewers can use their own discretion.

How can I get The Sims official pages to notice my machinima? The Sims official channels do follow SIFF, and while they may enjoy all of the machinima submitted, they do have to follow a strict guideline with PG13 status. You are more likely to be showcased by the Sims officially if you avoid smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex, extreme violence and weapons etc.

Will you tell me when the results are released? We will not notify anyone individually. It is up to you to follow our many updates through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, the Simatography website, our ISSUU publications page and more.

When will you let me know if my film has been accepted into SIFF? Everyone’s film is accepted to SIFF - we do not discriminate anyone based on your talent or skill or experience. We believe that all creativity deserves to be celebrated.

Where can I find updates to what is happening at SIFF? As mentioned we will share updates on many of our social media sites including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, ISSUU and our own website.

Can I submit more than one film to SIFF? Yes, there is no limit, but be realistic. If you want to showcase your best work it is always a good idea not to over-extend yourself with projects that you may need to rush through.

Is there a time limit for my film? There is no time limit, but we advise caution when creating a film with a long duration. People will usually only watch a very long machinima that is very captivating, with strong story line and characters.

Can my film be in more than one part? It can be in more than one part, but we would prefer that all of those parts are released at SIFF at once otherwise this will be considered incomplete and you will be disqualified. Check the submissions pages in this booklet for details.

I am new to machinima, where do I start? We have many great forum threads and tutorials on our website. Please spend some time exploring and if you have any specific questions don’t be afraid to ask for help in our HELP ME section of the fourms. Here are a few basic tips: 

if you are using English subtitles ask for help with proper translation and grammar

if you want feedback early on in your production don’t be afraid to ask for it

never film with walls down, or with plumbobs and thought bubbles showing

always always always ask for help and take time to learn

with Tabby Lloyd your weekly source for festival

updates and more

SIFF BUZZ is THE premiere source for the information you need to

know about the festival happenings. Each season you will find short issues with little updates, along with larger issues that will showcase some of the festival’s greatest talents. At the end of each season, in the FINAL BUZZ you will find the winners announced so be sure to follow us on ISSUU.

SIFF rules guide 2015 update  

Welcome to SIFF - You should find everything you need to join the Sims International Film Festival inside.

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