These are busy days in the metaverse! Get your B-Town 3D on tonight with the latest metaverse meetup, which features Ogoglio’s Trevor Smith demo’ing his open-source 3D spaces project. The evening starts at everyone’s favorite Williamsburg retro video game bar, Barcade, before proceeding into the night — or into Jerry’s apartment. Also, check out machinima from IBM and CBS, food from Spain, and (presumably) naked avatars from Playboy. Continue reading
Two SL videos, an interview with Little Big Planet, and the first presidential campaign to have an official SL presence. I suspect headline-writing is going to be the hardest thing about these D-Briefs I’ve started doing. By the way, does anyone have a “briefs” icon I can use for these? Feel free to send it along. Continue reading
It seems Dutch director Paul Verhoeven (of such classics as Robocop and Showgirls, but also Soldier of Orange) will use the virtual world of Second Life to audition actors for an upcoming film. According to a press release, radio and television spots are advertising an open call for all those interested in auditioning for Black Book 2, the follow-up to Verhoeven’s popular Black Book. Starting today, “Verhoeven will hold virtual auditions in Second Life.” [Lost in the] Magic Forest, a division of Dutch media production company Revolver that issued the press release, produced a machinima spot being broadcast on Dutch television to promote the auditions (as near as I can tell through what seems to be a language barrier). Continue reading
Just took a nice stroll over to Park Slope from the 3pointCrib to have a chat with Nathan Freitas and Jon Oakes, two of the co-founders of Cruxy, the new(-ish) Web site for independent musicians, filmmakers and other artists to promote and sell their work. (The third co-founder is Web services wizard Will Meyer, who’s based elsewhere.) That’s Nathan on the left (aka Nat Mandelbrot in SL), with his pet AIBO, which, sadly, suffers from the classic symptoms of DHS. I got in touch with them after blogging up their music player for SL, and was happy to hear that they have more cool stuff on the way, and are in fact already working on some things that could make it a lot easier to do media-making not just in a virtual world but on the Web itself, as well as to cross over between the two. For musicians, filmmakers and artists in both the real and virtual worlds, it seems like Cruxy’s versatile player and format could provide a small boon. Continue reading
Episode #53 of SecondCast is up on the SecondCast site (or can be listened to in the sidebar here, or downloaded from iTunes), and it’s fairly hilarious right off the bat. Like really hilarious, as in the first three minutes will have you on the floor. And the bleeps! Hear Lordfly file an abuse report against Johnny’s face. Pretty excellent stuff.
When you’re done with that, go check out Episode #1 of the relaunched Grid Review, the machinima news project being produced by Edelman and the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog). Now benefitting from the Sheep’s absorption of master machinimators the Ill Clan, as well as expert narration from SecondCast’s own Johnny Ming, the Grid Review is suddenly totally entertaining (whereas the old format was only somewhat entertaining in its own format, if you ask me, despite the presence of some great machinimators). Let’s hope they can keep it up.
The Guardian Gamesblog has a post today about a machinima contest held recently by EA that awarded the best short film made in The Sims 2. The winning entry is actually being screened at cinemas in the UK. (It looks like the contest was UK-centric. Was there an earlier one in the US?) What with CBS airing a machinima promo ahead of the SuperBowl and Fox Atomic’s upcoming machinima contest, it certainly looks like the form is getting a lot more attention these days. Passing fancy, or emergence of a new medium? If the latter, it’s about time.
Interactive online community site Fox Atomic is launching a machinima and photography contest in the virtual world of Second Life, with an eight-day trip to Costa Rica for two as the grand prize. Yes, that’s the real Costa Rica, not the virtual version. The news comes from a blog entry from Millions of Us, which built out Fox Atomic’s in-world presence on »Fox Atomic island« (billed as “the first movie studio in Second Life”). Your machinima entry can be filmed anywhere in Second Life, a long as it uses at least one of the free Fox Atomic avatars that are being given out on the island. You can also get machinima assistance there, and on the Web site. There’s not a lot of real information available yet. The rules, for instance, have yet to be posted to the contest Web site, and there’s no deadline given in the blog post, for instance, nor does it say what the clips might be used for by Fox. But if you’re interested in heading down to Costa Rica, start shooting. There are a few great machinimists in Second Life, but beyond that top tier the competition drops off pretty swiftly, so if you can cut together even a brief piece of entertainment, you just might stand a chance.
I missed it, unfortunately, but I’m told CBS just aired a promo spot for its Monday-night comedy Two And A Half Men during the SuperBowl pre-game show. What’s special about that? The spot was a machinima promo, shot in the virtual world of Second Life (as far as I know), and produced by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), who CBS president and CEO Les Moonves gave a big shout-out to at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. I’m interested because pre-game exposure during the SuperBowl megacast (it’s the most watched sporting event of the year) is nothing to sniff at, and pushes virtual worlds that much further into mainstream America’s consciousness. SuperBowl commercials are the most expensive airtime on television, and are closely scrutinized each year for new trends in marketing and promotions. It’s basically the TV advertising agencies’ equivalent of Sweeps Week, when networks trot out the best of their new material. So having a machinima spot run even during the pre-game show is pretty hot stuff. A quick search on YouTube didn’t turn up anything about it yet, unfortunately.
Filmmaker James Cameron of Titanic fame (and, probably more importantly to readers of this blog, The Terminator), has just gotten the go-ahead on his next film. What interests 3pointD about this is the fact that it will be filmed in a moviemaking version of a virtual world, and new details of the process have emerged in a story in today’s New York Times. Cameron is using the latest “performance-capture” technology to record the movements of actors’ bodies, as well as their facial expressions. But such recordings are usually made against a blank background that’s later filled with a digitally produced environment. In the case of Avatar, Cameron’s next film, “The most important innovation thus far has been a camera, designed by Mr. Cameron and his computer experts, that allows the director to observe the performances of the actors-as-aliens, in the filmâ€™s virtual environment, as it happens,” the Times writes. The key phrase here is “as it happens.” Cameron and his team have essentially created a virtual world that they view live as the performances are recorded. What they see on their screen is the motion-capture already composited into the digital environment, rather than having to wait until later to see the combination of the two streams of content. In addition, Cameron can pan and zoom around on the fly: “If I want to fly through space, or change my perspective, I can. I can turn the whole scene into a living miniature and go through it on a 50 to 1 scale. Itâ€™s pretty exciting,” he says. That’s exciting technology indeed. Though it bears little direct impact on current multiuser virtual worlds, it’s the kind of technology that will gradually filter down to broader levels, and the kind of filmmaking that could help promote Internet-based 3D spaces. Will the movie be any good? Who knows. The filmmaking techniques, however (which almost resemble the ultimate in machinima), are fascinating. And don’t forget that Cameron sits on the Multiverse advisory board.
Four Eyed Monsters, the movie I’ve been blogging about periodically here, is finally getting its screening in the virtual world of Second Life, tomorrow at 5pm SL time (8pm Eastern). The screening will take place at the Sundance Channel‘s Second Life »screening room«, as part of Sundance’s entry into SL. (Sundance is a client of the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog.) The movie is a hugely interesting take on life and love both online and off, and addresses along the way questions of identity and how that’s changing in our increasingly virtual world. Check out the machinima invite that filmmakers Susan Buice and Arin Crumley have made for the film. They’ve really taken to SL since being introduced to it by me and Jerry Paffendorf a while back. Both filmmakers will be at the screening to chat with audience members. This is highly recommended viewing. [Oops: Forgot to mention that the film will simultanously be shown at a handful of other locations around SL, and you can even host your own. See the Sundance Channel’s Second Life page for more details.]
Check out the Grid Review, the new project from the Electric Sheep Company (3pointD sponsor, etc.) and PR agency Edelman. Launched to bring news of the grid via short machinima pieces, the service premieres with, among other things, a hilarious interview with the “avatar” everyone loves to hate, CopyBot. Talented machinimists Nylon Pinkney and moo Money will be the anchor anchors, but the Sheep are also soliciting submissions from residents — and I believe there may be some facility in the works to help you produce those pieces, though I’m not entirely sure. At any rate, it should be a good source for entertaining video news of Second Life. Another first?
The Sundance Channel is coming to the virtual world of Second Life in January, with a virtual premiere of 3pointD’s favorite movie of recent weeks, Four Eyed Monsters, according to a press release. “Sundance Channelâ€™s SL screening room will be used to showcase films, documentaries, shorts and original series and to host unique interactive events with filmmakers and other independent thinkers,” according to the release. The Electric Sheep Company (who sponsor this blog) will be building out the Sundance presence in SL. Like their Aloft project, the Sundance build will also be accompanied by a blog, which will document the construction, provide information on SL itself, and give updates on upcoming events being held at the virtual screening room. All of which sounds very cool to me, especially the opportunity to see new films like Four Eyed Monsters in SL before they’re widely available elsewhere. And how long will it be before we start to see machinima at the Sundance Festival? See you in Park City.
Well, the There Film Festival, anyway. Check out “Wild Griefer,” the winning entry, by There.com resident Francis_7. The film is a five-minute music video based on a song by the same name, written by Thereians Banshee_Kate and Stungthumbz. And it’s all about griefing! (Of course, as There.com’s press release points out, “The lyrics and dialogue showcase There’s real-time voice chat feature, which makes it appear as if the avatars are speaking and singing without the need for editing or dubbing.” But that’s obviously secondary to the subject matter, needless to say.) Check out the rest of the winning entries on this long-loading Web page. And don’t forget to congratulate Francis_7, who actually won a hefty prize: a Sony MiniDV Handycam Camcorder, 90,000 Therebucks, and, last but not least (or maybe both) a There sweatshirt. Nice work.
Absolutely love this idea:
In an effort to foster entrepreneurialism within Second Life, Edelman and The Electric Sheep Company are teaming up to sponsor a Second Life Business Plan competition. . . . Over the next few months, we will be accepting business plan entries, and the winner of the contest can gain sole access to a Second Life private island for 6 months, as well as L$350,000 seed money, and strategic guidance from Edelman and The Electric Sheep Company. Two runners-up can win L$100,000. Your business needs to be focused on the Second Life community, but there are no requirements as to what kind of business.
The UK’s Guardian newspaper reports today that among the television channels being brought to Second Life by virtual-world services company Rivers Run Red are the UK’s Channel 4 and, appropriately enough, the Sci-Fi channel. The story also confirms that user-created content will be part of Virtual Life TV, which is due to launch at the end of this month. I’m looking forward to seeing whether a machinima channel could fly in Second Life, I think it’s a great idea. Dust off your Alt-Zoom cameras and get to work.
Check out SecondCast, Episode #42, in which Johnny Ming roams the halls of the 2006 Machinima Festival of the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences. (I was there too, but would only sit still to be interviewed by Johnny about the New York City “Pay Walker’s Rent” Marathon.) There was some great machinima on display, and some interesting characters on the podcast, as always. Unfortunately, though we were all rooting for Pierce Portocarrero‘s excellent Game Over to win one of the several awards for which it was nominated, Pierce will have to wait until next year. That’s understandble, though, in an environment in which a film about restroom etiquette wins the prize for best writing.
Two new episodes of SecondCast, Johnny Ming’s weekly podcast about the virtual world of Second Life, on which I’m a regular co-host, just hit the pipes. Episode 40 is one of our regular newscasts — though a particularly cogent and informative one, for a change. Episode 39, on the other hand, is a horse of an entirely different color, being our first full-length machinima podcast, in anticipation of the upcoming Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences annual machinima festival, being held this weekend. Johnny, Torrid, Lordfly, Cris, moo Money and I spend some time checking out recent Second Life machinima entries — in a style that may remind you of a certain television show that featured silhouetted avatars viewing other people’s movies. NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the machinima festival in Second Life this Thursday, when a preview of some SL work will be running. Read more at Rik Riel’s blog.
For a great picture of just how involved things can get in the massively multiplayer space opera EVE Online, read this epic forum post, which narrates a three-week long campaign on the part of one of the game’s better known mercenary corporations. Hired to take down a corp called Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate, the mercs lay their plans under cover of nearby hostilities, spend almost two weeks gathering their forces, and finally launch an assault that takes the enemy by complete surprise. I won’t ruin the ending, I’ll just say it’s well worth a read, chock full of links to screenshots, other forum posts and even some video. A great look at some of the game’s best (and worst) moments, which also really makes you understand just how important the human element is here. Nice writing by Seleene (pictured above), CEO of the Body Count Inc. corporation, a member of the Mercenary Coalition alliance. Continue reading
SLBoutique‘s FlipperPA Peregrine flags a Slashdot post about the fact that World of Warcraft will be featured in tonight’s season premiere of South Park, of all things. Check out the video clip. As Flip points out, this is probably the first mainstream appearance of machinima. Here’s Blizzard’s press release about the episode, which sees Cartman, Kyle, Kenny et al. charged with saving WoW itself from the depredations of “a renegade player.” A very interesting mashup of virtual worlds as well as entertainment media. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ron Howard reportedly has a television show in the works that features a massively multiplayer online game, and James Cameron is said to be making a film that will be shot partly within a virtual world. Look for 3pointD this fall at a theater near you.
Second Life resident Pierce Portocarrero, one of the virtual world’s most gifted creators of the in-world filmmaking art known as machinima, has been on hiatus of late. He returns this week with a new piece that’s even better than the ones I’ve seen before. Check out Game Over, which aired in-world as part of the latest monthly machinima festival run by Alt-Zoom Studios. Seemingly a parable of love in the age of self-replicating objects (or something like that), the short film features some truly creative character models, an excellently ambiguous plot and ending, and acting that’s conveyed very well through animations and completely without dialogue. It’s a really excellent piece, including in its camerawork and editing. All we need now is for credit rolls to come to machinima, so we’d know if it was Pierce doing all the work or whether there are other people who deserve some kudos as well. Whatever the case, it’s nice stuff, and we look forward to more.
The latest episode of SecondCast, the only Second Life podcast that matters, is now available for your listening pleasure. We stick to the news in episode #34, covering Grid crashes, power outages at Linden Lab, and Hamlet’s recent video interview and wandering tongue, among other things. With special guest co-host, machinima queen Moo Money, for extra spice. Check it out.
The Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences is once again holding its annual Machinima Festival and Machinima Awards (known as “the Mackies”), on November 4-5 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. In recent years the festival has had a bit of trouble finding a home, so it’s great to know that the recent rise in interest in films made within 3D online worlds has given machinima enough cachet to once again land at the very cool Museum of the Moving Image. “Throughout each day, attendees will be able to view Machinima works, interact with Machinima demos, as well as speak with the artists themselves,” according to the announcment. The Academy will begin accepting entries on July 24th, so get in your favorite game and start shooting. And check out what’s probably the best collection of Machinima on the Web at the Academy’s sister site, Machinima.com. [Via Clickable Culture.]
Machinima-master Paul Marino sends along the news of a machinima piece that’s come under scrutiny by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently. “The machinima was held up by ‘experts’ as propaganda and recruiting material for terrorists,” Paul writes. (And there’s video here.) While that doesn’t seem to be what’s actually happening, it’s interesting to consider the possibilties. In fact, what’s far more likely is that virtual worlds would be used by the U.S. government for similar purposes. The government already has an armed forces recruiting tool in the multiplayer first-person shooter game America’s Army, so it’s actually a short step for someone to start trying to win gamers’ hearts and minds through similar means. A number of people involved in virtual worlds have recently been testifying before various congressional and government intelligence bodies, 3pointD hears, and there has even been talk of U.S. government institutions opening an island in the virtual world of Second Life. While I don’t know that any of these discussions have involved machinima, it does seem that there will eventually be a government presence of some sort of another in virtual worlds. That will certainly change the landscape a bit.
Finally had a chance to check out the video that was produced for the New Media Consoritum, showcasing their campus in Second Life. (Both campus and video were created by the Electric Sheep Company, 3pointD’s only sponsor at the moment.) The video, shot by talented SL machinima-maker Pierce Portocarrero, showcases what is a truly impressive build. The place looks great. Even at five and half minutes, though, the piece feels slightly long, and the narration definitely takes the optimistic view of activity in SL, quoting a few Linden Lab figures, including ones about how many content creators there are on the Grid — figures that don’t really tell the whole story. The video does a great job of showcasing a really professional build, though, and is well worth checking out. The one odd thing about it, to me, is that it isn’t posted on YouTube. This is the New Media Consortium, after all. Start using those new media delivery services, guys — if only because it will do a great deal to spread the word.
The Second Life Future Salon has found a new date for its machinima night after the last one had to be postponed due to a Grid-crashing attack on the virtual world. The event takes places this Thursday, May 25, at 5:00pm SL time, and features SL filmmaker Pierce Portocarrero and Paul Marino, who runs the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences. More details about the event at this link.
Second Life resident Pierce Portocarrero is one of the virtual world’s premier machinima-makers. Part of the team working on the Ideal World documentary about SL fashion designer Nephilaine Protagonist (a film that will combine real-world and virtual-world footage), Pierce is also an enthusiastic SL resident, and seems to love digging up cool stuff and filming adventures and oddities about the world. He recently launched a new Web site, and though it’s not quite complete (and has some currently unavoidable audio on the home page), it showcases a lot of Pierce’s excellent work (he really knows how to work a camera in SL) and promises a steady stream of stuff to come. Above, Pierce’s prologue to Second Life, which gives you a better picture of his take on things.
About two weeks ago, we asked the question, Will Second Life Ever Be Safe? That day may come, but it hasn’t yet arrived. As noted in the previous post here, the virtual world of Second Life was today hit by yet another attack that necessitated Linden Lab‘s closing its Grid, the third time in two weeks. (The last attack, which came just yesterday, was blogged by Tony Walsh at Clickable Culture.) The attacks all have one thing in common: they take advantage of the single most attractive aspect of SL — the ability for users to create their own objects — and turn it against the virtual world. Continue reading