, flush with cash after recently raising $3.85 million in capital, has announced the Machinima Comedy Lab, where the site is bringing on fifteen traditional TV writers, each to develop a comedy web series pilots. The series will be greenlit for up to four episodes each before they decide whether to further produce the series.

Amongst the list veteran writers selected are Writers Guild of America West president Patric M. Verrone, Family Guy scribe Mike Rowe and a number of former staffers on The Simpsons. The full list:

  • Chris Cluess: Mad TV, The Simpsons, Cheers
  • Bill Freiberger: Drawn Together, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, The Simpsons
  • Eric Horsted: Boondocks, Knights of Prosperity, Futurama
  • Ken Keeler: Futurama, The Simpsons, Wings
  • Stacie Lipp: King of Queens, Roseanne, Married With Children
  • Christina Lynch: Wildfire, The Dead Zone, Unhappily Ever After
  • Peggy Nicoll: WordGirl, Daria
  • Bill Oakley: Mission Hill, The Simpsons, Futurama
  • Max Pross & Tom Gammill: The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Monk
  • Mike Rowe: Family Guy, Futurama, Comedy Central Roasts
  • Loren Segan: Wildfire, The Dead Zone, Spyder Games
  • Patric M. Verrone: Futurama, Muppets Tonight!, The Simpsons
  • Maiya Williams: Mad TV, The PJs, The Wayans Bros.

“This is the future of comedy in new media – a fast and low cost way for writers to create shows that attract an existing audience,” said Patric M. Verrone. “We’re thrilled to break ground and forge a relationship that empowers independent production and gives writers both creative freedom and financial participation.”

Machinima as a medium is a production technique that literally implies the convergence of machine and cinema. The animation is constructed using interactive 3-D engines and environments instead of professional 3D animation software. Typically, this means using an existing game engine and often very popular ones like Halo or Half-Life. Creators have been making machinima videos for over a decade (especially longtime web creators Rooster Teeth and their Red vs. Blue web series), but what really kicked it into the mainstream was in 2006 with Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Emmy-winning “Make Love, Not Warcraft” episode of South Park, much of which was built inside the uber-popular online game World of Warcraft.

South Park – Make Love, Not Warcraft

“As an emerging entertainment network, we’re dedicated to bringing aboard top creative talent,” said Allen DeBevoise, chairman and CEO. And he means it. Back in July, tapped The Guild creator-star Felicia Day to write and develop a game-based web series which is currently in the works. The company seems to be doing something right over there, as their YouTube channel, in less than 14 months, has become the seventh all-time most subscribed channel.

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