Archive for August, 2009

3Di Web Plug-in Heralds Tsunami of Virtual World Adoption

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, SL® Business, Virtual Worlds on August 31, 2009 by Valiant Westland
The Coming 3D Tsunami

The Coming 3D Tsunami

I predict the 3Di Virtual World Web Plug-in is going to usher in a Tsunami of Virtual World adoption!  I believe it also represents the single greatest competitive threat to Linden Lab’s Nebraska offering.

Although it is unlikely serious Virtual World users / “publishers” will adopt embedded technology as a replacement for a dedicated client anytime soon, it’s going to be a different story with corporate and casual users alike.  Corporate clients who have been deterred by the onerous implementation and support challenges associated with dedicated VW client software will see a slip-streamed plug-in as a solution for Intraworld (Intranet + Virtual World) as well as customer-facing deployments.

3Di Open Viewer Demo

3Di Open Viewer Demo

Since most people are already comfortable downloading plug-ins like Flash for browsers, the barrier (“cost of entry”) to Virtual Worlds will be significantly reduced.

The biggest challenge facing plug-in adoption will be server capacity.  Any web site hosting a virtual world destination, risks crashing the target sim with a flood of web-directed plug-in-enabled visitors.  The “perfect storm” for the adoption of browser-based (plug-in) 3D/Virtual World clients will happen when the plug-ins are simple to install and point to servers that can host multiple hundreds or even thousands of simultaneous connections.

Despite the 3Di announcement, the dream of having a ubiquitous, industry standard web interface for virtual worlds remains just that, a dream.  My hope is that this announcement puts the competitive spurs to Linden Lab, Mozilla, Microsoft, OpenSim and the rest of the Virtual World industry, to develop and support this technology.

Yes Men and Group Think

Posted in Op/Ed with tags , , , on August 30, 2009 by hawksrock

Wow, I have not seen such examples of group think and yes men in quite a while.   Allow me to elaborate.  In the old days, people used to comment on blogs that they either agreed with or disagreed with and explain the reasons why.   Then there would be some public commentary and discussion around it, people would see the reactions of both sides, make their own decisions and move on.   That is so passe , and like 2008 and stuff.   The new fad is to hide behind private timelines, block anybody who has any sort of disagreement with you, and then openly bash amongst like minded sheep.

Specifically, one of the pictures in the last round Curbside Confessions showed four recent Truth hair releases with the title “New Styles from TRUTH!?”   Obviously the point of the slide was to suggest that they were somewhat similar in nature – but no point beyond that.   But step back for a minute and examine the reality of the post.   What I did was just showcase 4 styles from Truth in front of over1,000 people.   There was zero commentary on that post outside of a ?.   I am sure that quite a few people were exposed to the styles who had not seen them before, and probably went out to buy them.   So Truth is now convinced that we are destroying his business?   There is a pretty big break between perception and reality there.

His method was to first block both Jelly and I from his timeline, and THEN go off about us just to make sure we can’t speak up about it.   In reality though that is not enough, because he is going to take it one step further and the 4 other people who spoke up to say that either the styles did look similar, or that they tried to support us during the bash fest were also summarily removed from his timeline.   Heaven forbid somebody have an opinion that is different.  I was most upset when one of the nicest people on the grid Tymmerie Thorne was banned for making this statement, ”  They are not identical but certainly similar enough that I wouldn’t buy two of them.”  I mean jesus, that is some sort of revolutionary hardcore Truth bashing there..???

So in hindsight, this is just a really good example of how something can get blown way out of proportion when all you have are a bunch of like minded fan girls running around telling you how great you are.

I would like to take a minute to call out a few people I have come across who have demonstrated the ability to think independently and to thank them for that breath of fresh air.   For the record – many of these have disagreed with me once, or even many times, but I appreciate their honesty and ability to think for themselves.   Thank you Cajsa Lilliehook, Luth Brodie, Daila Holder, Ivey Deschanel, Prad Prathivi, and Moggs Oceanlane.   The world is a better place with you here.    Also, I am sure there are others out there, but these are ones who have made a difference in my own life.

Curbside Confessions – Round 3

Posted in Satire with tags , , , on August 29, 2009 by hawksrock

Hey all about time for another round of Curbside Confessions.  Enjoy!

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

Art of Machinima – Part 2 – Getting Started

Posted in How To with tags , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by hawksrock

So in my last post I covered the basics of some starter software to give the foundation you need to film machinima.   Now that you have your software it is time to start filming!   Obviously you will want to play around with some different shots before you take on a big budget epic production.   The easiest thing to film and make look romantic is a scripted couples dance.   Basically you find one good angle, some nice lighting, and then just let the camera roll.   Slap an audio track in during editing, and voila you just scored you first machinima and some brownie points with your significant other.

But before you begin there are a few commands that you need to know to hide the UI and your huds from showing in the shot.   The first command is to hold down Ctrl-alt-F1 at the same time which will hide the UI (user interface).  This way you will not see any chat, or the menu bars at the top and bottom of the screen.   The second useful command is Shift-alt-H which will hide any huds you are wearing.   For both of these commands you simply press them again to reverse it and turn them back on.   Everything still operates the same way, but now you see a full screen view of SL without any things in the way which will detract from the film.   Along with the basic camera controls you will want to perfect the art of holding down Ctrl-alt-shift while moving the mouse to be able to pan the camera in either a vertical or horizontal direction.   Just those three simple tips, will move your machinima from noob to intermediate level.

There are some definite pros and cons to filming machinima in SL.   The big pros are that you have access to the most fantastic settings for your backdrops.   There are amazing new sims and builds out there every day, with any type of setting you can think of.  The biggest con is trying to get your avatar to do what you want it to do.   Unless you are a grade-A animator, know a grade-A animator, or else are willing to pay lots of L’s for custom animations it is very difficult to get the avatars to “act” in the way you need them to for a scene.   Even basic facial emotions can make or break a scene, and you are limited to the strength of your mood hud.   I also recommend you find a partner in crime for filming.   It is almost impossible to film yourself walking, driving, or doing just about anything and make it look worth a crap.   One option is to log in an alt to film yourself doing basic actions, but unless you are on two computers you are going to severely impact your FPS rates.   The best option is to go into it like Jell and I do where you take turns filming scenes, or angles to try to get the right footage to work with.  Just make sure you are using the same windlight settings!   :)

I think that with this much info you are ready to go give it a go.   The main thing is to just keep it fun.   I try to balance making a really good machinima with keeping it light and fun and not agonizing over every shot or the editing process too much.   If we can bang something out in two days, that is usually just about right which allows for one day of setting up and filming.   One day to edit, and reshoot anything that we need to.

With that I am going to debut for you our latest machinima project – Want.   I came across the audio track first which is Want  by Recoil, and it inspired me to throw this together.   I hope you enjoy it.

I was just made aware of another great resource from the Rev’s very own Luth Brodie which can be found here.

Art of Machinima – Part 1 – Technical Software

Posted in How To with tags , , , , , on August 18, 2009 by hawksrock

I am no expert at making machinima, but after having collaborated with JellyBean Madison on over 30 machinima videos during a two year period, I do feel competent enough to at least put together a little advice for some of the up and comers who think they might like to try their luck directing their own machinima feature in SecondLife.   I think that the method of machinima can be divided into two segments:  technical and artistic.  This post is going to focus on the technical software requirements.

I am going to start by sharing the very first video I ever set up, filmed and edited in SL, which was done in November of 2007.   I remember being shocked when Sine Wave contacted me about wanting to use it on their website, and they also sent it on to a lot of the dancers which they recruited to do Mo-Cap for them as an example of what they were trying to accomplish.  I filmed this the first month that windlight became accessible so everybody was still ooo’ing and awww’ing over the sky and water.

My intention is to take you through my own personal evolution as a maker of machinima by showing some of our work over the last couple of years.   You can see from this first one I was still enamored with transitions and glowy fonts…   :p

In order to film basic machinima, you need the following three software components:

  1. A video capture program
  2. An audio editor
  3. A movie editor

So let’s start with the video capture program.   Jell and I both use Fraps.  Fraps is available for purchase at the price of $37 USD.   Luckily, it is the only purchase you have to make to be able to do machinima.   If you want to just practice with fraps, and not pay for it, then there is a free version you can use, but it will include a watermark over your film that reads http://www.fraps.com at the bottom.   Basically what fraps does is it records everything it sees on your screen from the point in time you hit record (F9), until you tell it stop (F9).   There a few basic settings that you want to check before you start recording.   First of all, make sure that the “No cursor” button is clicked, or else your mouse pointer will show up on your vid.   Secondly, I always make sure the record sound button is off because we typically set our videos to either a song or a backing track.   One cool feature of fraps is that you can turn the record sound button on, and then you will hear any audio that plays through your speakers when reviewing your playback.   This means you can use fraps to record SL voice if you want to do interviews, or create some sort of tutorial program.   There are other video capture programs available which allow you to create a box on your screen of exactly what video you want to capture, or that do some basic editing and effects while you are recording.   In my estimation, for the cheap price and ease of use, fraps is all you need.

Secondly, you are going to need an audio editor.   Technically you can get by without an audio editor, and just layer in a full length song, or not have any audio in your vid, but I think over time if you do machinima then you are going to want an audio editor.   I recommend using Audacity.  It is a free editor, that lets you easily trim music down, or add multiple tracks of audio.   You can record voice, and layer it against the audio all in a very simple to use format.   Most video editing programs, only allow one audio track to be layered against the video.   This means that if you want to combine music, dialogue, and any sound effects then you need to layer it together in Audacity, and then it will blend it into one track which can be input into your video editor.  There was one battle scene in Tank Girl we filmed where I had 15 layers of audio going at once, because every gun retort, reload, explosion, and breaking glass were all layered in against the backing music track.   I really can’t brag enough about Audacity for basic audio layering.

Third, and perhaps most importantly is that you need a video editor.   My personal favorite is Edit Studio 6.   However, there are numerous options out there, and I am not sure this one is necessarily the best, but it is the one I am most comfortable using.   Luckily for you, there is a fairly robust video editor provided free with modern versions of Windows called Windows Movie Maker.   Your editor is where all the magic happens.   It is where you end up taking a lot of video footage and weeding out the slow or weaker shots, to get at the kernels that make up the story line.  In the editor you arrange the clips in the order you want to see them, you work on timing the audio and visual together, and voila… you have your first machinima production!

This segment concludes the overview of some basic software requirements that you need, and in the next installment, I am going to cover the basics of camera movement, lighting, export settings, and other information that you need on the technical side of filming machinima.   Then I will follow that up with a post which gets more into the artistic side of thinking through a storyline, and selecting elements, etc.

Introducing ANiMO!!!

Posted in Op/Ed, SecondLife® with tags , , , , on August 17, 2009 by ♥JellyBean♥

So in the old style of MGG2SL I bring you newness. Anyone can blog Maitreya, Truth, etc. It’s a given that you see the same people with different shit day after day on the feeds. It gets sorta monotonous and very unvarying. So as I said, I bring you… *drum roll* NEWNESS worthy of a spot on the feeds. ANiMO!

ANiMO is a collaboration between Morrigan Polanski and her RL/SL boyfriend, Ando Karu. ANiMO is fresh, only about two months old but age is nothing, they also have fresh ideas. Don’t let the name ANiMO fool you into thinking it’s just a pose shop. (ANiMO = it’s called AN i (which is “and” in polish) MO) ANiMO is fun, they are trying a different approach on poses – trying to create something different than what you bump into in every other shop.

Both Morri & Ando are kinda eclectic, so don’t ask what to expect of ANiMO, because like she told me, “we have no idea ourselves.” You might see anything from early medieval to Star Wars – anything is possible. Right now the assortment of items they offer isn’t huge, but they’re working on it. Morri shared that they are also thinking of a collection of scripted gizmos that make no sense but are so cool that you can’t resist them. Everyone loves gizmos, right!?

Morri told me last night that she is working on Bollywood poses, which completely made me *squeee*. I love Bollywood & have yet to see poses in SecondLife. This will be the second set for girls, and should be complete in a day or two. Don’t fret guys, you aren’t left out – Ando has made some cool male poses like football, basketball and that kind of guys’ stuff. ANiMO also has the cutest off-beat couple poses like eva’R. (below is one of my favorites)

The great thing about Morri & Ando is that they are constantly improving on their skills. Morri is starting animation course in computer arts school this month. She says learning is like a drug & she can’t seem to get enough. Also keep your eye out for a brand called “stitched” that they’ve also started which is for sculpted items.

About Animo

GENESIS: Animo = Take 2 letters from Ando and 2 from Morri. I = And in Polish.

VISION: Create more and more and more and more… Just for fun!

PURPOSE: 314159 Poses and Animations (312126 left)

ANDO & MORRI

Here’s your linky loos:

ANiMO blog

ANiMO Main Store

ANiMO on Xstreet

You Aren’t Nearly As Amazing As I am, or Look I Blogged and It’s Super Special!

Posted in Op/Ed on August 16, 2009 by Daila Holder

I spend a lot of time walking through life feeling slightly superior to you, and you, and that guy in the corner and the girl reading the paper. I think I’m pretty special, and I realized that many people in Second Life think they are too.

We all seem to have an inflated sense of self, because everything about Second Life screams look at me! Look at what a pretty picture I made. Look at what a great blog post I wrote! Look at my pretty avatar! Look, I’m a model! Look I’m a famous clothes designer! Hey, look at the pretty pixel hair I made! Well, you all get the point. You are all quite intelligent and witty, right?

And most of you will try to deny it, but you fit in there somewhere. The entire premise of Second Life is to indulge your every idealized desire.

Honestly, it’s not just a problem in the virtual world. Like many concepts that seem to affect the Second Life population, this narcissistic attitude is a world wide phenomenon.

Our inflated sense of self is affecting our ability to form strong bonds and emotionally healthy relationships. We feel that we are too good for many people, so we don’t even try to get to know them. We also lash out quickly if we are criticized or might secretly suspect that someone could possible be slightly superior to us. Though rarely do we ever really think anyone is actually better than we are. How could they possibly be?

We can blame society and the rise of self esteem focused learning. We were praised for our individuality, and our parents were encouraged to praise mediocrity. Of course our parents were slightly narcissistic also, because they secretly thought that their little munchkin was such so amazing that his only worry in life would be choosing between being a world famous super model and a the leader of the free world.

So my question is how do we reverse the trend?

We can’t change the world, but we can possibly change our little corner of the virtual world.

We could start with not automatically just handing out over the top praise to anyone and everyone that attempts anything. It just overly inflates egos unnecessarily and cheapens the impact when we truly mean it.

As hurtful as rejection and criticism can be, I’ve found it very useful. It brings me down a notch. Reminds me that there are people out there that don’t think I’m that amazing. Sometimes we all need to hear that. As long as we are open enough to see it as an opportunity to grow and reevaluate ourselves.

Perhaps we need to step back and think in the long run what really sets me apart from anyone else?  Most of us may find we are way more flawed than we thought.

I know I have been brought back down to reality quite a few times in the last few weeks. I am feeling quite average, and oddly satisfied.

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