Something the whole Paradise Lost crew has been looking forward to for a long (long, long, long, … ) time: the first demo scenes from the semi-documentary film ‘My Avatar and Me’ (Me Avatar og Mi in Danish). Lead star of the - kick ass, of course - video containing both Real Life and Second Life footage is Paradise Lost’s own Princess Helena Kirkorian. Besides being totally promising, it’s also incredibly education (if in doubt about this, start watching at 6:20)! The question we’re all pondering: that print out, is that Helena’s atomic? And is that Rob Danton at the end of the demo footage, professionally holding that virtual camera, but breaking the poor Mick Proud’s heart? Behold:
Can’t wait until it’s on TV (with subtitles, please! ;)). Fenris Film was as kind as to include a bit of behind the scenes footage as well. Go Rob! Go Rob! Go Rob! No, no, nooo! Auwch! C’mon.. you can easily kick that guy’s ass! Oh? What do you say? Anoter sex scene? Where? Show us! (Or at least don’t let us wait to long.)
PS. I’ve always said I’d blog again, if I had something interesting to share related Second Life. With this blog entry, point proven! ;) Now, all, go favourite these videos on youtube, share them on Facebook, Tweet and Plurk them, as well as leaving some sweet comments. That’s an order!
It’s (still) alive! Not just ‘Vint’ but also ‘Rezzable’. It has been a bit more quiet lately, leading to a lot of questions like “what are you guys working on?”, “helloooooo… anybody out there?!!!” and - in my case - trillions of capped IM’s. But, today there was a small step for Vint - logging into Second Life again - and a small step for Rezzable - opening it’s ‘Virtual King Tut Special Preview’. With the crème de la (virtual) crème such as Miss LT, Pavig, Ordinal, LightWaves, Foolish, My, Alejandro, Beatrix and many others building, scripting and banging on random grid parts, it’s as expected: Impressive.
‘Starfish’ is a new - mixed reality - play by award-winning playwright Judith Johnson, which aims to explore the issues raised by clinical trials. It uses real life actors and Second Life machinima to convey the message. The production will tour schools throughout London in Spring 2008, from Mon 26th January to Fri 13th March. And guess what? Rezzable created the machinima footage. RightasRain ‘Boss’ Rimbaud: “Big thanks to my associate producer in making the machinimas–Meral (aka Lokum). It took hours and burned through all of our collective patience, but we pulled it off! Thanks again for hanging in there with me.” Some excerpts ft. a terribly cute tiny Greenie:
Each performance is followed by a live debate, utilising electronic voting technology, during which the students will be encouraged to explore what they think and feel about the issues posed by the drama. ‘Starfish’ is targeted at students at KS4 and above (aged 14+). The production is accompanied by a suite of online support materials which will engage directly with science and humanities specifications.
It seems the most time intensive part of shooting the machinima was nailing the ‘avatar’s expression of emotions’ down: “The biggest issue is working with a fairly limited set of facial expressions. Oddly in many ways the non-human avatars can be more expressive–with doing less even. But if someone could build a animation control panel that allowed detailed movement of the face, eyes, body parts independently and then back again as a set–well…call me let’s lunch on that one!” I guess as the VRW Viewer which mirrors your Real Life emotions on your avatar is far from finished, and the Lindens seem to be so busy with ‘enterprise solutions’ that they forgot about avatar puppeteering they promised in 2006, I’d go with my Pandora HUD for such a use. Or are there any other alternatives I haven’t heard from yet (and that are either not to complicated to use, or totally worth the time you spend mastering them ;)) ?
We’ve seen Cao Fei’s “RMB City” in many forms already, ranging from real life 3D models to CGI images and video of the virtual city design, but only recently this giant build was created in Second Life. Ranging 4 Second Life islands, the RMB City is since January accessible for the wide avatar public. Together with the opening in Second Life, the RMBcity.com website is being filled with lots of RMB City goodness, such as RL & SL event listings, a city guide, the latest news and a city manifesto. In that city manifesto Cao Fei (avatar name: China Tracy) writes:
“What we see and touch are real, what we breath and feel are virtual; our voice is real, our memory is virtual; fortune is real, poverty is virtual; fulfilment is real, sadness is virtual; resentment is real, affection is virtual; foolishness is real, wisdom is virtual; reigning is real, endurance is virtual; living is real, dying is virtual; the land is real, the sky is virtual…then, from this moment on, let all the virtual-real conflicts vanish in RMBCity.”
You can spend hours in this virtual city, wandering around, trying to understand why the People’s Pond is shaped as a giant toilet, trying to imagine exactly how neat it would be to live in a building like the People’s Entertainment Television suspended from a giant crane and trying to capture all what makes this city truly unique in series of virtual photographs.
At RMB City, there is just one thing that makes that this virtual urban area does not qualify fully as a city, yet. Despite all city planning, in real life, never does one person, or only a few, think out a city. It’s a collection of little pieces of lives… your life, that of your neighbours, that of your colleagues, that of the stranger on the bus, a kid going out for ice cream … . RMB City has not been “lived” yet. There are no marks of use: a road worn down, buildings that tell history, graffiti on the bus, a thrown away bottle, little advertisements with phone numbers on them or even worn down flowers for the kid that wanted the ice cream so badly it didn’t look before crossing the road. Some might call this all “decay”, but it’s exactly that contamination by life which makes a city interesting to me. I hope, that as RMB City progresses, we get to see exactly that, fragments of how life in this city could be.
Read more on RMB City at rmbcity.com (press connect to enter the site) or go see for yourself in Second Life (TP link or search for “RMB City” using the Second Life Map). And if you have figured out how your life this “virtual but real” metropolis would be like, write them down, illustrate them with snapshots and share the story, as I’m dying to know how it is to live here and how the city will look once it’s “used”!
(PS. water reflections are off in the snapshots, and glow makes things look weird. blame LL. that they stop forcing us to mandatory upgrade to buggy clients when the previous one was working perfectly. *sighs*)
You gotta love the irony embedded in this project: “Popular classic arcade games such as Dig Dug, Tapper, Space Invaders and Tetris are re-contextualised to train players for jobs in mineral mining, printed circuit assembly, box build and global shipping.” The School of Perpetual Training is an ironic corporate training program that uses audience participation to expose unjust labour practices and environmental concerns caused by the global digital game industry.
School of Perpetual Training is an instructional training program that exposes the underbelly and not so glamorous side of the computer video game industry. Most people associate jobs in the computer video game industry with information-based labour such as 3D graphics and coding game programs. Yet the majority of the industry relies on the sweat and stamina of migrant and low-income labourers working for electronics contract manufacturers in developing countries.
As the captured motion is projected back on the screen, does the “School of Perpetual Training” qualify as an “augmented reality” project? By Jacqueline Steck and Stephanie Rothenberg for Eyebeam, which we already know for creating the first virtual sweatshop. I had a great time browsing through these two ladies’ previous projects, I suggest you do the same and start out with NOSO! (which is a huge relief to us who are already on Plurk, Facebook, Twitter, Myrl, Second Life, ‘the blogosphere’, e-mail, … . ;)) “NOSO is a real-world platform for temporary disengagement from social networking environments. The NOSO experience offers a unique opportunity to create NO Connections by scheduling NO Events with other NO Friends.“
The “collateral damage” of the Openspace pricing & policy change is enormous, that can not be denied and almost used to saying “nice sim, we’ll miss it, but ah well, there are others”, but when renowned “virtual art” sims such as The Princeton Voids fall victim too, then the gears in my mechanical, virtual heart just stop rotating for a few seconds… . This week it was “last change to vistit Poid Mahovlich & AM Radio’s The Quiet” at Princeton South. So I went to say my goodbyes…
… and of course, take snapshots. All of a sudden, I slipped and fell, which launched my camera under the icebergs and uncovered the ocean. My mind went “Woot! Reflections!” until it realised… water in a frozen landscape does not really make sense. But Lindens gave us WindLight, and everything is possible with WindLight, right? If it can turn water into wine, or blood, or jelly it can definitely turn water into flat ice with the right texture and settings? Sure it can! (For the WindLight water settings to pour over your virtual water, click the thumbnail.)
How do I access the WindLight Water settings? Go to World > Environment Settings > Environment Editor and then click “Advanced Water”. The advanced water editor will pop up, with the tabs “settings” and “image” that you see in the Ice Settings example above.
Which Ice Texture did you use for the water texture? I used Torley’s “Ice Shelves“. His “Ice kapades” does the job too, but is more uniform thus more flat. When using ice kapades you’ll get less the “this ice is transparent and this ice has part of the ice is white” effect, which creates depth. In your library you’ll also have “Ice rock”. Try this one for yet another effect.
Thus, AM Radio’s “The Quiet” on Ice. Because… well… “freeze” is the best way I know off to make something last forever… . And this is how it looks without ice. ;)
Are oppressive labour laws and expensive real-estate prices getting in the way of your dream of running your own sweatshop? By following these 10 simple steps you too can become rich using telematic manufacturing.
10 simple steps to start your very own virtual world sweatshop:
1 Choose a virtual world.
2 Create a virtual team.
3 Develop a business model.
4 Purchase virtual land.
5 Build a virtual factory. 6 Hire avatars as workers.
7 Conduct training sessions. 8 Set up a real world storefront.
9 Begin telematic production. 10 Pay workers.
Invisible Threads is a mixed reality performance installation created by Eyebeam artists Jeff Crouse and Stephanie Rothenberg. The project explores the growing intersection between labor, emerging virtual economies and real life commodities through the creation of a designer jeans sweatshop in the metaverse Second Life. Simulating a real life manufacturing facility that includes hiring Second Life “workers” to produce real world jeans sold for profit, the project provides an insider’s view into current modes of global, telematic production. Machinima by Annie Ok.
Unionize Attempt by Second Front
On Thursday, December 18th, a week before Christmas, the Double Happiness factory was almost overthrown by virtual anarchists claiming to be affiliated with the virtual pranksters known as Second Front. The hysterical rioters attempted to take over the factory with at least 300 lbs of explosives and bottles of hairspray. Chanting “Happiness, not Double” while the Dead Kennedy’s “Kill the Poor” blasted from their iPhones, the hooligans tried to force our happy Double Happiness workers to unionize. Only a few avatars exploded but in “virtuality” no one was hurt in the incident and production continued to run smoothly during the joyous, holiday season. The attack happened during a tour of the factory with potential investors BIW (Brooklyn is Watching). Watch footage from Double Happiness’ security cameras:
Double Happiness Manufacturing
Of course you can visit the ‘Double Happiness Manufacturing’ factory / sweatshop in Second Life (TP to Eyebeam Island), at this time of year, the entrance is even decorated with a lovely Christmas Tree. (I believe that falls under ‘keep your workers motivated’?) Although no “global workforce” was at work - hey, they got today off whilst I was working?!! what kind of sweatshop do you actually run there?! ;) - the Double Happiness factory is a lovely build to visit with lot’s of proof of heavy jeans manufacturing going on: empty pizza boxes, whiteboards full with notes, time sheets & cards, … . I searched for a ‘x days without any accident’ sign or safety warnings, but could not find any. Although when trying out one of the machines, it became clear I did not have the right safety clearance, as it refused to being handled by me.
Some of my impressions:
The Double Happiness Manufacturing Factory / Virtual Sweatshop entrance. I love how they keep the project updates - for people like me who stumble over it only 1 year after it started, and for returning visitors - by adjusting the build to the season. That Christmas tree shows they put constant effort into this! Can anybody tell me which font they used for the factory name? It’s absolutely awesomely vintage! ;) (Overall I was pretty impressed by the ‘custom’ textures such as name plates, time cards, white board + markers, … . Only at times some more baked shading would have been appropriate. <- Before I forget to mention that!)
Trying to get details on what they produce, what’s planned and most important - factory visiting hours. ;) Hmmm… seems although the doors were closed, you could walk right through them!
My favourite picture from the whole visit, gotta love subtle use of shallow DOF, no? ;) Second best manufacturing line I’ve seen inSL, maybe if it would have been on (did I miss a button?) and a bit more cute, this sweatshop would have beated Fiat’s assembly line.
I deserved a lunch break. K? But I did not eat the last slice of pizza. Honestly. I swear! *crosses her tail*
Double Happiness Manufacturing Products
Although Double Happiness produces a wide range of different styles of jeans - RoadKill, No Pants Left Behind, Classic, Casual Friday, Lowrider - my favourite is definitely the ‘myPants™’: “Do you spend hours every day approving new batches of friends on mySpace, FaceBook, and Friendster? Do you want people to see how popular you are without having to log on? Show the whole world that you have friends to spare with myPants™. Comes with Fine Black Sharpie™ while supplies last.” I guess DHM ran out of supply, as I was able to find a price listing (Price: $45.00 USD/$11,890 Lindens) but no ‘order here’ button. Please, put those avatars back to work! ;)
Machinima & Image Credit: Double Happiness Manufacturing
Start reading more about this project at DoubleHappinessJeans.com
There are not many documentaries on Second Life out there that apply the necessary ‘nuances’, that show the Opportunities as well as the Dangers that lie within this virtual world. Not many documentaries that do not brutally cut out & off the interviewed resident’s words, as to only serve the point their creator wants to get across. As it comes to getting ‘the whole deal’ across, the short film ‘Second Me’ by Anna Thommen nailed it. It comes as no surprise it won the Audience Award at the Wintherthur short film festival, and also a shared Swiss Price. *applauds*
For this, Miss Anna Thommen just needed to follow one avatar and it’s human - or is it the other way around? - living his Second Life, telling about his ‘Second Me’ and commenting on behaviour, looks and backgrounds of fellow avatars. The avatar sharing the high points and virtual lows of his adventures with us is Eifachfilm Vacirca, who’ve I’ve met a few times at my ‘grow up’ sim, the Paradise Lost. (And I recognize quite a few of my ‘homies’, which is uberly kewl.)
Subtitles available by pressing the CC button.
For those with dirty minds - *does not look into a particular direction* but a certain person, you know who you are, made me insert this disclaimer - at 7 minutes 57 seconds, that’s his FOOT he’s moving. Really. But this _is_ a ‘Euro’ documentary, so the director did not cut out or ‘bleep’ the protagonist using the word ’sperm’. For the NSFW puritans out there, just shut up and swallow. Tyvm and kthxbye.
The British design artist Marc Owens is fascinated with 3D games and the relation that gamers have towards those. One of his most recent projects is - besides Second Life related - rather ingenious. Lately, I’ve been pondering Virtual Death a bit: is anybody paying to use those virtual suicide machines inworld? What happens if you terminate your account with LL? What would you prefer your SL memorial service to be like, and should it happen upon disappearance of your avatar from the grid or your human from earth? Where do deceased sims go? And so forth. Well, Marc Owens created SABRE & MACE, a company that offers virtual characters the opportunity to experience death as a way to close their user account permanently. The project examines the notion of feeling sentimental toward a virtual character and examines the link between sentimentality and tangibility.
Sabre & Mace, virtual death row
The service works as follows:
Having discovered the Sabre & Mace site on-line (the website had to be taken down after the show) or through one of the virtual adverts in Second Life, the prospective customer teleports to the company headquarters. There, the client meets a manager who explains the full process and guides him or her through the signing of two contacts. Contract 1 - states that at some point (completely random) in their second life the avatar will be collected by a Sabre & Mace officer and taken back to the headquarters for termination.
Contract 2 is in fact the client’s ‘Last will and Testament’ where he or she outlines how they wish their virtual moneys, land and assests to be distributed once they have been terminated. The client continues to live their second life until one day, a Sabre & Mace officer appears and informs them that the final proceedings are about to begin. The client is collected and taken to the Sabre & Mace HQ. The client meets again with the client manager, to discuss the final process. At this point the client reveals their ‘account password’, which is the means by which the avatar is terminated.
The client is led through the cryogenic chamber, where the virtual physical forms of past clients are stored. Upon arrival at the ‘Termination Room’, the client is instructed to walk through the ‘white noise’ door. Once he crosses the threshold of the door his Second Life game crashes, giving a Sabre & Mace member of staff time to change the clients password - effectively terminating the character.
The client’s former avatar is immortalised as a golden statue. Information about the avatar can be read on the plaque which sits on the monument. Should the client visit the Sabre & Mace memorial gardens he would see his own statue as well as the monuments of previous clients.
Would you have put your avatar up for ‘death row’, just for the sake of art? ;)
More ‘Game’ related content by Marc Owens
Virtual Transgender Suit
Also ‘inspired by Second Life’ is Marc Owens’ ‘Virtual Transgender Suit’. As a study by psychologists at Nottingham Trent University has found that 54 percent of all males and 68 percent of all females “gender swap”–or create online personas of their opposite sex, this became Marc Owens’ next project after the Avatar Machine listed below. A real life manifestation of that practice, the Virtual Transgender Suit replicates the aesthetics of the typical virtual female form and catapults them within a real world context. The piece was specifically designed for men to wear in the real world, creating a bridge between real (where cross-dressing is not really socially accepted) and virtual.
Translated: OMG! Look at that mesh! (S)he’s hot!
The virtual communities created by online games have provided us with a new medium for social interaction and communication. Avatar Machine is a system which replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming, allowing the user to view themselves as a virtual character in real space via a head mounted interface. The system potentially allows for a diminished sense of social responsibility, and could lead the user to demonstrate behaviors normally reserved for the gaming environment.
Translated: will we act just as silly as we do in virtual worlds, when we see ourselves as avatars, and through an ‘avatar perspective’?. I think not. Number 1 reason why not? Real life is damage enabled! ;)