Facebook to host online game contest

Fans impatient for Batman’s next screen appearance will soon get the chance to bring him to life themselves. Among the characters provided are DC headliners Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and their nemeses the Joker, Lex Luthor and Circe.

Mass Animation, the collaborative animation project headed by former Sony Digital topper Yair Landau, is launching a DC Universe Online Animation Contest on Facebook.

Using animation made by fans, Mass Animation will produce the trailer for Sony Online Entertainment’s upcoming DC Universe Online game and supply some “emotes” for game play. DC Universe Online is a massively multiplayer online game from Sony Online Entertainment skedded for release in 2010.

SOE is paying Mass Animation a fee for its output.

Fans create their animation by downloading digital models originally created by SOE from the Facebook page, animating them with a special version of Autodesk’s Maya 3D software, then uploading their footage to the Facebook page, where people can vote on their favorites.

Those getting the most votes go into the 90-second trailer. A new iPhone app lets people view and vote from their phones.

“We see this as a new way to bring fans into creating materials we use in marketing and in-game,” said SOE chief exec John Smedley.

The contest runs Dec. 7 through early February. Landau said, “We’ll be giving people a couple of months to do the animation, and then we’ll work with the winners to refine the shots.”

Fans will also create “animation cycles” or “emotes” for game play: gestures that express emotion or personality, as when a character smiles or shakes his fist. Mass Animation emotes will be available for players’ game characters but not used for DC’s heroes or villains.

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