Killer Robot is a wonderful Machinima creation produced, written and directed by Peter Rasmussen. Like in Rasmussen's other Machinima creations, the main characters are all robots - probes assigned to search the surface of Mars for signs of life. Unlike todays probes, these seem to suffer none of the monotany of single purpose design. All the characters prove to be extremely flexible and use their specialities in increasingly clever ways.

Killer Robot spans 9 chapters, each between 6 and 8 minutes long, making it over an hour in length. This fact alone makes it an epic by Machinima standards. It is wonderfully written and despite their sturdy robot exteriors each of the characters has a diverse personality. Even more impressive - the characters themselves are voiced by MBROLA, an open source voice synthesis engine.

Dramatis Personae:

Mira - wonderfully mischevious to the point of being sociopathic, this geology robot uses her pickaxe to shatter rocks and analyse their makeup. At least thats what she does in her day job. The amount of creative uses for the pickaxe that she comes up with is astonishing.

Sam - Mira's sidekick, and the voice of reason among the two. Sam is a survey robot armed with an ultrasound probe. His job is to locate lava floes under the surface. Despite posessing no manipulator, Sam is given ample opportunity to make creative use of his pivotable solar panels.

Cato - a two ton mining robot, one of the most creative characters I've ever seen in a film. Cato is Sam's master unit (and Mira's for that matter, although she destroyed her comms unit so he couldnt order her about.) Cato is an incidental villain as a software bug causes him to go insane and plot to kill the astronauts due to shortly land on the planetary surface.

Helios-9 - A flying robot perpetually looking for a place to land after being damaged by Cato as it entered the atmosphere. Helios communicates only via text displayed on screen, talking to Mission Control to discuss its plight.

Killer Robot is very fun to watch - the robots, despite their practical exteriors, are all very articulate and expressive. Cato particularly is a natural actor. It also has a well developed plot which makes it impossible to watch just one episode without carrying on through all 9.

The movie took over two years to create, with Peter Rasmussen doing all of the work himself on his home PC. Killer Robot was produced using a combination of GameStudio, a low cost game development environment, and TrueSpace, a 3d animation package. Production was automated using Python scripts and the command line Festival MBROLA player.

Rasmussen's production company is Nanoflix (www.nanoflix.net): he has worked on several other Machinima and meatspace films. Killer Robot is available on DVD, or as a lower quality but free download from http://www.machinima.com.

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