Sunday, 27 November 2011

Iron Waffle at 'Theatre De La Talent' 2011

Iron Waffle was a rock cover band featuring Zayn Till, Wynx Whiplash, Teal Freenote, Krull Quar and Etheria Parrott and was the last act billed on the night's Raglan Talent Show.

Podium Soapbox

Tonight was Raglan Shire's fifth annual Talent Show as part of the Showvember month of activity. It was great fun, as usual, with about a dozen performers from the Shire groups performing various acts including singing, acrobatics, sketches, magic shows, etc. Once again - for the fifth year in succession - I was asked to MC the show; my talent clearly for being able to talk incessantly when required. It's a task that is both easy and difficult at the same time: if you've prepared a script, it's easy enough to just copy-and-paste your text; it's when there are gaps to be filled, to keep the show going that it can get tricky. Still, it seems I have a penchant to be able to say something when needed (whether it's the right or wrong thing). As I told one performer, I'm only the glue to join the acts together; if I fall together, I let them down more than anything.

But I did take the opportunity this year to read off a piece of text that I'd written earlier in the year; bizarrely, it was part of an obituary that I'd written about the number of real life losses that have affected the Shire groups over the past two years - the deaths of Stillpink Sandgrain, Daisyblue Hefferman, Har Dyrssen and Nitzrokk Saru, as well as the alleged loss of Jammers Inaka* - and the impact that they've had on those they were around online.

Here's my oratory from tonight.

Second Life isn’t just a game - it’s an advanced, real-time social networking experience. It allows us to immediately connect with people from all over the globe to share a vast range of interests. 
We can converse with each other as easily and as efficiently - most of the time at least - as we can with someone in the same room. From these connections, communities grow. The Shires themselves have expanded over the past four years from up to 100 members of the Friends of Raglan Shire group within its first 6 months to well over a thousand fellows now.
And it continues to grow; our creativity, technical knowledge, warmth, and general friendliness have made the Shires a wholly enjoyable place to explore and reside in and the community - as a sum of all of our contributions, no matter how small you may feel you have contributed - has been the main reason for that. For me especially, and I hope for you too, it reminds us that we shouldn’t ever take the connections we make with one another for granted. 
No-one person is better than the next; we’re all different and we all contribute in different ways. Whatever difference of opinion you may have with someone else, always be gracious, be helpful and kind and enjoy your time amongst your friends, neighbours and tiny acquaintances. 
That’s always been the Raglan way and it’s made the community one of the strongest, most caring and warm-hearted in all of Second Life.

Then I introduced a group of basement kitties performing covers of Monkees songs whilst a hamster rode on a barrel around them. Never a dull day in the Shires!

*I haven't addressed the Jammers situation, and I don't know if I will here. I deleted my original blog post about her supposed death earlier in the year, not out of disrespect but that it had no relevance anymore when she turned up again. It's a contentious situation, and I appreciate others views surrounding it; all I'll say is that I find it astonishing that those who would say "if only I had one more day with this person to tell them..." can so easily turn that person away when they do return.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Scaling Back

Day 9: Closing our Second Life Sim #SecondLife #SL #NaBloPoMo
Adelebsen Isle by MarillaAnne

Despite not being especially prolific in terms of building over the past year (due primarily to the distraction of a RL house move), I've been able to rack up a fair amount of sales over the past few months - but never really more than enough to cover my rents. I've paid out for a shop space on Heron Shire (my main store), one on Raglan Shire, a houseboat on Heron Shire for (my wife) Kitti Dumpling, a home plot on Raglan Commons (despite still having my Linden home), a shop on Extrovirtual and a shop on Adelebsen Isle.

I've earned a bit in Second Life over the past five years, but never the kind of amounts that would pay for anything substantial in RL - I did cash out some L$ last year though to buy this for our wedding - and as exciting as that would be, I can't imagine it happening now. Sales in-world, especially for a niche market like tinydom, have slowly ground to a crawl over the past couple of years. There are good days and good weeks and the Tiny Swagtastic $50L Weekend offer has proved to be a great success; but the profits never seem to outweigh the costs and the majority of my sales actually come from the Marketplace - another example that goes some way to proving this point about the closing of ElvenMyst to be true.

So it was with a heavy heart that I decided I'd need to start scaling back on my costs, losing a couple of the Shire properties in favour of refocusing on the others. But another decision has sadly been made for me this week with the news that MarillaAnne Slade and Michmeister Slade can no longer afford to keep Adelebsen Isle running. I really liked what they'd done at Adelebsen Isle, and loved to explore around and see the blend of goods from both tiny merchants and more regular sized folk too; they were able to attract a good number of creators who I'd never encountered before, which is always refreshing. I just hope that both Marilla and Mitch find the energy and enthusiasm to stay around in SL for a while longer; it's one thing to lose a good sim, but quite another to lose good sim managers and creators.

I'm not giving up all in-world presence - far from it, I think there's still a great deal to be gained from having an in-world shop and I love kitting them out! - but I'm downsizing. I'm not alone in doing this; several others have had to adopt a similar approach recently, but I hope that the spaces I free up will be quickly snapped up by someone wanting to call the Shire home or make use of a shop space at the heart of one of the most endearing communities on the Grid.


UPDATE (11/11/11): Well, it seems Adelebsen has had a stay! MarillaAnne has announced that she has found a sponsor to keep the Isle alive for at least another three months!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Five Years On

So this past weekend was my fifth rezday anniversary in Second Life.

Five years already? I feel like I've accomplished nothing.

But maybe because that's because when I close my SL viewer, I have very little to show for it of course; it's all there, on the Grid. But when I look back, I guess I've done quite a bit.

In those five years, I've owned land on the mainland and built a virtual zoo on it; bought half a private sim and transferred the zoo there, added a finely-detailed gothic vampire crypt and a island for tinies; upgraded that to a full sim and transferred the zoo there - then the biggest and most popular zoo on the grid - and built a forest designed for tinies; discovered Raglan Shire, went tiny permanently, moved there, set up a shop, had a SL-wedding...

Beyond that, I learned how to make machinima, which has been a great creative outlet; but most importantly, Second Life has allowed me to genuinely made a great number of friends, whose friendships extend well beyond the viewer. Without Second Life, my wife (whom I introduced to SL!) and I would not have had two of the guests we had at our RL wedding. Without it, we would likely have never traveled to Denmark to stay with one of those guests in return. Without it we wouldn't care for some people in almost every corner of the globe; I was genuinely terrified for the welfare of SL friends in Japan when their earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit; and I've shed real tears when told of the loss of SL-residents who I have never met, but shared an affinity with somewhere on the Grid.

I have long said that Second Life is the best and most advanced social networking tool available, and I still believe that. I don't care for the politicking; I don't really understand why some people feel they need to pick apart everything that Linden Lab does or says so fervently. Second Life connects more people from across the globe simultaneously than any other social network that I know of; I love being part of conversations between people in Australia, California, Holland and the UK all at once. I appreciate that some people invest huge amounts of their RL income into this virtual world and they want some good returns on that investment, and I have seen firsthand the Lab's level of service fall way short more than once. But it still doesn't change the fact that almost every day I fire up the viewer, log in and do something, whether it's to see the product of someone's imagination, hear a musical act I would otherwise never have heard before or talk to someone thousands of miles away and share a joke with them.

Here's to the next five!

Tiny MJ ala Karmagirl


Tiny MJ ala Karmagirl, originally uploaded by Teal Freenote.
It's Shocktober and it's time to partake in another annual tradition - the Thriller dance off!

Peaches Latrell made the amazing Thriller-zombie animations a few years ago and since then, each year, dozens of tinies have come together at a predetermined time to dance in perfect synch to the spookiest pop tune of all time! Amongst the zombies, skeletons, vampires and mummies, here's Karmagirl Avro leading the way as MJ!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Keeba Tammas


Keeba Tammas, originally uploaded by Chaffro!.
As part of the Shocktober festivities, Keeba showed up caged and bound Hannibal Lecter-style - but still managed to pull off an amazing vocal performance!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Through The Lens

Snapshot of Through The Lens Of Dreams, taken by Pyewacket Bellman
Although the surreal majesty of Alien Isles has now departed the Grid, the brilliant creative minds of those behind it - Madcow Cosmos and Lorin Tone - have found a new sim upon which to collaborate and unleash their own unique brand of fairytale-esque craftsmanship.

Through The Lens Of Dreams is the name of their new art installation across the sim of Art Screamer. It's a rich assortment of Madcow's trademark wide-eyed monsters and toothy beings scored by a cacophony of Lorin's chirps and whistles, and again represents just how limitless Second Life can be for an imaginative soul. Arriving at a small floating platform and dropping down onto a cushion suspended in the mouths of giant caterpillars is just the first step you'll take on the incredible adventure that awaits: you'll find the vast grassy banks littered with a sprinkling of tiny blue flowers, through which hordes of cute cycloptic critters amble; the trees laugh from under their giant leafy hats as you wander past, each given their own distinct look and sound; the sky is filled with oversized insects and airborne pieces of fruit; giant bamboo-framed bikes ferry about miniature potted gardens.

Look up, down and all around to see this amazing work
Much of Madcow's work before now was through the careful assembly of cleverly shaped and lovingly textured basic prims but with his extensive use of sculpty prims on this build, his imagination has really run amok. Lorin and Madcow describe it as "an exploration of the transformative nature of dreams, where each new setting may emerge from the last and seems continuous while we're experiencing them." Whilst some dreamscapes tend to be more ethereal and less hallucinatory, this is akin to running through the set of an Aardman animation movie directed by Tim Burton. You can even take away one of Madcow's avatars as a souvenir.

The brains behind the operation
There are some slight issues; I'm not the only person to have gone over there and found a problem with sounds; not necessarily the sounds within the build but system sounds too, which after a while can become a little grating. Madcow and Lorin are both aware of it and they are looking to get the problems resolved, but they believe it's a server side issue. However, turn your volume and your draw distances down and it's a truly wonderful build, well worth visiting and exploring as soon as you can. I would imagine that, very much like a dream, it won't be around for long and when it's gone, will be hard to reimagine.

Reach Art Screamer at the following SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Art%20Screamer/127/150/80

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Where Dat?

Hello reader! I am still here, but on a kind of enforced-hiatus from Second Life exploring: I've been moving house in First Life - sheesh, not nearly as easy as right-click, Take - and was without internet access for about 16 days and now really just without the energy to do very much. But that will change over the next few weeks I'm sure.

However, after missing 95% of the recent Medieval Festival, I did find the time to pop over to the Shire and set up my room for this year's Shocktober Haunted Ride Of Horrors ride. Shocktober is the name the Raglan folk have given to the month of October, feeling that one day for Halloween wasn't nearly enough and dedicating a whole spooky month to it. It's all looking good, and I'm looking forward to seeing it all in action.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Eins-tiny

The Greatest Theory known to Tinydom
This is a rather cool contest: design an Albert Einstein avatar.

It's being run by the IMRIC (Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada) and is actually offering a real cash prize incentive, which makes a change from a pot of Linden dollars or Marketplace gift cards. Einstein's a pretty unique visual-looking character, so I'm hoping that this competition yields some great results.

Naturally, I felt compelled to get involved; I can't enter of course, as the avatar base I used for these pictures is made by Wynx Whiplash, but I made the rest! Still, I checked in with Dusan Writer, who is the in-world contact for this contest and this was his response: [06:41]  Dusan Writer: Hahaha I love it!!!!!

Maybe I should enter after all...
Albert Einstiny

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Hopping Toad


The problems plaguing the managers of Grendel's Children aren't anywhere near resolved - in fact, they might be getting a whole lot worse. Toady Nakamura has posted a video of the kind of quality she's getting from the latest version of Viewer 2 (v.3) viewer and it isn't good.



She had to film this using her Nikon Coolpix because the 'hopping' of frames on her monitor meant that she couldn't use her screen capture program. So why not switch back to a viewer that will be more comfortable to use? Because Toady was told to upgrade to the latest release, as until she did so the Lab couldn't look into the problems she's been having with Grendel's Avaria and Avaria Tor sims, that both her and Flea have continued to request help with.

The problem that Toady has though is that the change in framerate for Viewer 2 makes it almost impossible for her to spend much more than a couple of minutes in Second Life now; the flickering leads to her getting headaches and nausea. Not exactly an ideal Second Life experience. This, coupled with the lack of support that she and Flea got from the problems with their sims, is starting to take its toll.

Toady's resorted to having to create a Jira to try and sum up all of the issues she's having, with links to her Flickr stream containing snapshots of what she has to contend with. I really don't see where the connection between what client a user would be using and the performance of a sim? Surely client performance is almost unique to every user, whereas a sim's performance will ultimately effect everyone on it, regardless of how they got there?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Looking After The Children

A few blog posts have popped up over the past couple of days about the recent plight of Grendel’s Children.

Treet TV’s Saffia Widdershins has a comprehensive write up of the issues that Flea Bussy and Toady Nakamura have been facing for the past few weeks, which basically amounts to the fact that two of their cluster of sims have been performing so poorly that even after repeated requests to the Lab about trying to rectify the problems, they’ve decided that the best course of action is to dump them entirely.

I know for a fact that this isn’t a decision they’ve taken lightly - I’m very proud of the fact that I can count Toady as a good friend - and I know when she told me about the closures over the weekend that she and Flea were both saddened and angry that it had come to this. It seems the Lab had put in a fix to try and better performance on the sims, but the solution hadn’t lasted beyond a few days and wasn’t followed up on again; it was only when they announced their decision to off-load the sims that someone decided to take notice, immediately flying in to investigate and proudly informing them that performance had massively improved. “Of course it had,” Toady told me, “because there were only 6 prims left on the sim by then.”

It won’t be a massive hit for Grendel’s as a business but it’s a shame for them both as creators; not only do Toady and Flea want to give users a product range but an experience to go along with it, an environment as well-crafted and atmospheric as their avatars are. The sims at ground level are amazing feats of architecture that Toady, Flea and others work so hard at that it’s almost the the suppression of creativity that I feel most saddened about. I've filmed

Hopefully someone at the Lab - or Rodvik himself - will be alerted to the problems that are still haunting the business and, although too late for Grendel’s, does something to ensure that other clusters and communities (and ultimately, revenue for the Lab) don’t slip away unnecessarily or unnoticed. In the meantime, if you’re looking for somewhere to explore, teleport over to the GC store and then find a way outside and hurl yourself down to ground level!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Twilight of Summer

Hello dear reader! Apologies for a general lack of update of my virtual self, but truth be told, I haven't really done very much this past month, except pet some Meeroos and hang around the Raglan Shire pool! I'll be sure to find more creative motivation soon I hope.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Piece of Pye

So August's Month of Machinima entries have been posted; I entered (again) but wasn't accepted (again). Not quite sure what the criteria for inclusion is; maybe my movies just aren't up to scratch. Anyway, someone who was included was my good buddy Pyewacket, whose AM Radio film made the final eleven! Check it out.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Achamo Paine


Postcard from Second Life., originally uploaded by achamo.

I've only met Achamo Paine - a Japnese tiny - a couple of times in all of my time in SL, but I've followed her Flickr stream for a while and it never ceases to amaze me.

I love seeing the postcards she puts up, and the quality of them is amazing. She makes such a wonderful use of depth-of-field and light and shadow. It's great to see different parts of the Grid through such a good pair of other's eyes!

I would thoroughly recommend adding Achamo to your Flickr contacts.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Reblog: The Shifting Face Of Virtual Reality

Magistrate Till pointed me to this blog post by Wayfinder, a member of Elf Clan, that makes a rather lovely mention of the Raglan Shire, and more specifically the residents who inhabit there.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Spaceship Spotting



Someone filmed Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble - aka Rod Linden - when he jetted into SL8B around the time that Songbird was preparing to go on stage. See if you can spot anyone hanging around, staring at him...

Reblog: A Crack In The Veneer

Here's an interesting little piece by One Rhiadra about Raglan Shire. Disturbing too. I'm not for a moment suggesting that One is wrong to address the situation she has here, or that she's wrong to post it - far from it, I think it's a wholly brave and worthwhile post. But the core part of the article is potentially damaging to Raglan's reputation and community.

Raglan Shire is a PG sim; always has been and has always abided by that. It's not the only tiny community around, but it's by far the largest and I would argue the one with the most longevity behind it (there were some other small tiny communities before, but many have since disappeared); but I think that one of Raglan's biggest strengths is that it so welcomes diversity from all walks of life for people who just want to have fun in Second Life. People who want to escape drama, escape persecution for their thoughts, beliefs and choice of lifestyle, to be creative, silly, laugh and log off each evening with a smile on their face. As long as someone can bring that into a PG-environment, well in my book, you're welcome to stay for as long as you want. It's not up to any one, two or group of individuals to say how one should live as long as your day to day behaviour towards one another meets the requirements laid down under those PG guidelines. But that really boils down to good manners, and nothing more.

I can't understand these dissenting voices (either in SL or RL for that matter): so what if someone's gay? So what if someone's of a certain religious standpoint? So what if they're of a different colour skin to you? Are they nice and polite? Probably. And how is their lifestyle affecting you from going about your day-to-day business? Chances are, it's not. PG doesn't mean 'treat your guests and residents like they're six-year-olds.'

I recommend that you take a look at One's excellent piece here: What is Innocence?: A Crack In The Veneer

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Hippie Hippie Shake


Ready for Wootstock!!!, originally uploaded by Aime Takaaki.

Aime is all dressed up and ready for Raglan Shire's annual Wootstock festival, a weekend of live music and DJ sets. More information and a run-down of performers can be found at the Raglan Shire blog.

I love the retro-feel of this picture though. It's perfect for the event!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Forever Unknowable

The sim of Unknowable is still out there on the Grid, but the Alien Isle that it once was is no more.



As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, Judi, Lorin, Madcow et al can no longer afford to maintain the Isle so I decided I'd try and make a machinima-postcard whilst I still had the time. It's not my most advanced work - I only filmed for about 20 minutes to get a dozen or so shots. The soundtrack is probably more advanced than the filming process; here I used twelve different sound samples overlaid with each other to give the score a slightly ethereal alien sound. I hope the AI crew like it; it's difficult to capture the majesty and the detail of such a sim, but then that was (and still is) part of the fun of exploring - these experiences are unique to everyone and we all see or discover different things.

Bye Alien Isles. I'll miss visiting you but I'm pleased that I did and that I filmed you.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tinytanic


During the course of a conversation I was having with a fellow tiny a little earlier this morning, I learned that tinies were banned from the Titanic sim. Unpossible, I hear you cry! Nope, apparently not; after immediately teleporting over, I was greeted with a blue dialogue box quite implicitly stating 'Child avatars/tinies or animal avatars are not allowed'.

Shocking! We're usually welcomed with open arms, allowed to roam and play and spread joy to wherever we go - but not aboard the Titanic, it would seem. I decided at that point that the best course of action was to inform my fellow tinies in the Friends of Raglan Shire group of what I'd discovered, in an attempt to ensure that they were properly educated and didn't accidentally stumble onto this sim and find themselves on the receiving end of a boot. Many of them were equally as stunned and perplexed by my claim and demanded to be teleported in to see the evidence for themselves; so I grabbed another half dozen.

In an effort to try and understand why we may not be allowed to explore this quite incredible and lovingly worked build we clambered aboard; initially to the bow in the hope of recreating a "I'm flying Jack!" moment, before deciding that the ballroom was where we needed to be. After all, we'd all dressed up for the occasion and took to the dancefloor to show off our moves. I even managed to grab a few snapshots as a momento.


I appreciate that some sims and communities strive for accuracy in not only their builds but also trying to achieve 'the feel' of a place or event, but categorically saying that certain avatar types aren't allowed does seem a little blinkered, in my opinion. This whole expedition came about because I'd been told that a friend of mine had been ejected from the Titanic sim when she turned up as a tiny to watch one of her favourite performers do a live show there; that kind of behaviour doesn't benefit anyone, not the resident, the performer or the reputation of the sim. Besides, us being there didn't seem to bother anyone - admittedly, of the 11 people there, eight of them were tiny - and besides ignoring the request of NOT being tiny there, we acted in a wholly respectable manner.

Besides, if the Titanic sim was really striving for accuracy, the sea level would be at its highest level possible, the ship would be wedged into the ground and the build covered in sculpty limpets. I'm just sayin'.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Extra Terrestrial


As the end of the month draws closer, I'm reminded that one of my favourite sims will soon be gone from the Grid.

Among the hullabaloo of the closing of The Lost Gardens Of Apollo - which is also sad, I did visit there on many an occasion in my first twelve months in-world - here's a gentle reminder that Judi Newall and Lorin Tone's Alien Isles homestead Unknowable will soon be confined to the Second Life history books too.

I love Alien Isles; it's like Svarga on LSD. Designed and put together by a number of brilliant people - many of whom I feel blessed to have made the acquaintance of over the years - it's everything a sim should be for me: big, bold and colourful; unlike anything you've seen before or likely to see again; demands exploration both above and below the waterline, but most of all represents perfectly the creativity and grandeur that can be achieved when several like-minded people come together and want to share their imagination with others. The prime contributor to the construction it seems was Madcow Cosmos, whose extra-terrestrial flora bursts up through the seas to create an incredible series of interactive platforms. Madcow's creations have also extended to the 7Seas fishing crate on the Tron-esque fishing dock; many a tiny has sat with me trying to catch the amazing range of aquatic-themed shoulder pets, rods and avatars that the AI team offered.


Saffia Widdershins has a piece on the Isles' closing, but really the best thing to do is find an hour in your day to go and explore this most wonderful sim while you still can.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Linden Lab seeks company spokesperson

Tate Runino's reporting that the Lab are recruiting, for a job that probably ranks up there with 'Environmental Spokesperson for BP'.

I think the best person for this job should go under the name of Mouthpiece Linden, wear a slightly rusted, occasionally-sparking Robot avatar and have a Twitter account that every other day posts a Tweet written entirely in Binary code. It's the safest way to keep throwing the residents off and stopping them from getting too irate with a real person with genuine human feelings and emotions.

But good luck to whoever gets it. Ideally, the best person for the role should be someone who understands the back-end systems and can properly and respectfully communicate any problems in layman's terms to residents - yeah I know, it's an oxymoron.

Linden Lab seeks company spokesperson

The Poultry Report: New "Linden" Avatars

Uccello Poultry has written a small feature on a host of new Library avatars that the Lab have dropped into folks' inventories. They look pretty cool! Loco Pocos creator Damien Fate has reportedly had a hand in making one or two of them, which is nice to see; Damien's a great content creator and the Loco Pocos Island sim was a masterpiece that wasn't around nearly long enough for people to enjoy and appreciate.

It's also quite refreshing to see the Lab give new residents a non-human choice of starting av too and allow people to embrace and explore the more whimsical aspect of Second Life. Here's Uccello's report, with pictures!

The Poultry Report: New "Linden" Avatars

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Songbird Sings


Songbird Sings, originally uploaded by Chaffro!.

Raglan Shire's own Songbird Sorbet took to the SL8B Main Stage on Friday 24th June, to perform an hour long set. I believe the avatar count at the stages reached 105 at one point, many of which were Shire tinies!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Rodvik Linden visits SL8B Mainstage

Pyewacket, Toady and I met a Linden Spaceship tonight at SL8B. Name looks familiar from somewhere...

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ringmaster


Ringmaster, originally uploaded by Chaffro!.

Here I am, in attire usually reserved for Shocktoberfest, when I dress a spooky Ringmaster; the SL8B circus plot is a good enough excuse for me to wear it now though!

Monday, 20 June 2011

SL8B

So the Lab's SL8B will open to the general public from 10am SL time on Monday 20th June, and if you give yourself a couple of hours to take a wander around the sims given over to it, you'll be in for a treat.

I did just that this past Sunday afternoon, guided in part by the SL8B MegaHunt by Octoberville which is great for encouraging you to look around more than a single plot of interest and actually cross sim boundaries and loved seeing what others had created. Now, I'm sure some more rampant, more politicised and more critical SL-bloggers will spend much of the next two weeks finding whatever fault they can with the concept and/or the execution of the event, but if you look at it for what it actually is - a celebration not just of the platforms' longevity but also the diversity that the residents bring to it - you'll find yourself treated to a wealth of creativity and talent. Sure, some builds are less polished than others, but what they lack in fine detail they more than make up for in fun, which for me is what SL is all about.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the theme of this year's event is 'The Magic of SL'; for the Raglan Shire plot I took a more literal interpretation of the theme and helped set up a fun little circus-cum-carnival style plot replete with things to sit on and jump on. It's all been very well received by the visitors it's had so far (limited at time of writing to fellow exhibitors) and having had a look around, I've seen many others have chosen to do something similar; but I've been occasionally reading some of the official SL8B blog and was blown away this post especially about how magical SL has been to another resident in a completely different way.

There'll be the critics, of course; an office-type build about the joys of LSL won't be to everyone's taste but for some, it's exactly what they're looking for. And I am pretty sure that the harshest critics will be the ones who have teleported in, flown across two sim boundaries, have racked up no more than twenty minutes of searching and declared it a waste of time. These types of events may only offer up a very small cross section and highly condensed picture of what's out there on the Grid but it does serve to remind me that whatever one may read or hear about 'the state of Second Life' by some of those who feel they are more qualified to write about your experience than I am, that SL is actually very well populated by a large number of very passionate and creative people who want to encourage other residents to explore and discover all that if offers. That discovery doesn't take much to do and you come away from it - or at least I did - feeling that Second Life is a platform that is still very much loved by its users and on a daily basis brings at least a touch of magic to someone's life.

Ride


Ride, originally uploaded by Aime Takaaki.

I love this picture! Aime does it again!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Popcorn Art



I've been involved in not one, but TWO SL8B plots this year. I took the reins for building not only the Shire plot, but also got to build a plot with my pal Pyewacket to promote our Virtual Popcorn blog!

For me, tinydom is one of the most magical things I get to see in SL each day; the idea that these biped critters can make all these wonderful things and reside in a landscape of pure whimsy is something that never fails to raise a smile and I love the reaction that my tiny movies have especially to non-tiny residents. So it's this route that Pye and I have chosen to go down: showing off how much fun the magic of tinydom in SL is, rather than what we have set out to do with our blog, trying to bring some of the less-seen machinima to the masses (all six followers so far!).

I have a problem with plots with buildings on them; I'm not for a moment suggesting it's wrong, but for me, walls suggest 'KEEP OUT' rather than 'Come In', so I decided the best way to showcase them in this kind of set-up was to build a drive-in cinema, rather than a walled theatre. We've got a big movie screen set up at one end and several amazing 1-prim 'Toadsters' (named by and after their creator Toady Nakamura of Grendel's Children) parked up in front of it. The cars mostly accommodate tinies, but there is a car for the longer-legged resident to sit in. Pye has compiled a playlist of about 20 tiny machinima films that a viewer can sit and watch and hopefully see the magical lives we see every day!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Monday, 13 June 2011

And Cut!

I hosted our second Raglan Film Festival last night! We had 10 new tiny-centric machinima on show, and with over 40 tinies in attendance, it was another typically raucous occasion! You can see the films in question in this thread at the Raglan Shire forums.

Unlike most other machinima events, the RFF is more of a celebration of tinydom and the fun of the community than a contest between film-makers. In fact, my real motivation behind it is to show others how achievable it is to make machinima, in the hope that others give it a go.

The only real criteria for film-makers is that their film must include at least one tiny but because of the lack of limitations, it means that we always end up with a real mixed bag of film styles and lengths. Some people prefer to have hordes of extras in their films whilst others prefer to have just themselves or perhaps one or two others. Because of Raglan’s constantly changing environment with each new event, costumes and sets are virtually built for a film-maker to just grab a camera application and shoot!

It was a shame that there was no real support from the wider machinima community though. I’d been given – and utilised - a number of platforms to promote the event and I’d given away notecards to dozens of people, but even those most enthusiastic about it initially didn’t even find the time to show up for the event, let alone film anything. That’s fine; their loss, in my opinion. However, there was one person in attendance who’s been to a number of machinima events and festivals and was kind enough to tell me that they thought that the RFF was one of the best they’d been to. I put that down less to my hosting and organising skills and more to the audience, for whom the night was really for. In any walk of life, over time you can become complacent to the wonder and the joy of what’s immediately in front of you; sometimes putting it on film makes you see it from a different perspective and reminds you how awesome a community you inhabit!

Monday, 6 June 2011

The Circus Rolls Into Town

Goodness, it's been a month since I last blogged? Sorry - that's just me being a lazybones!

I've been busy in-world though, especially over the past week: it's SL8B time! Second Life celebrates its 8th birthday soon and as usual, I determined that as one of the leading tiny communities on the grid that Raglan should have a presence here again this year.

This year's theme is 'The Magic of SL': now, almost everything that tinies do is magical in one way or another, so adding to that, we've decided to roll a little circus onto our plot at the sim Electrify. We have a HUGE merry-go-round made by the supremely-talented Marion Questi and Martini Discovolante; we have a tightrope; we have balancing acts; we have balloons, caravans, trees, tents - we even have bouncy pie trampolines! We've already had a number of visitors come and play and that's just fellow exhibitors! The sims officially open to the public on June 20th, so I hope that you, dear reader, make some time to come and see what we've cobbled together!



Then, you can come and visit the SECOND plot I'm working on, with Pyewacket to promote our Virtual Popcorn machinima review blog! More on that once I stop being distracted by having to pet Meeroos. Sigh.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Honour Bestowed

The other night at the Month of Machinima event, Honour McMillan was kind enough to send me a virtual hug (whilst I was on the warpath because of the lack of tiny seating at the event arena), which inspired her to make a return visit to Raglan Shire. I happened to be wandering around the Shire when she visited - read her lovely blog post about her trip!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

MoMmy

Here's an interesting post - not by me, I hasten to add, but some thoughts from Soror Nishi: An Unexpected Alliance at LEA Opening.

As for me, I attended the opening night of the inaugural Month of Machinima yesterday too. I'm disappointed in myself that I didn't consider entering anything, but so pleased that Daveypup Nirpaw got his Karma Kong on the shortlist!

It's nice to see my favourite creative medium getting some long overdue exposure and recognition. But it's an interesting question: who exactly does this benefit? The Lab? Almost certainly, when used correctly; they have no direct input in any of the films, either creatively or financially, yet will take the credit for allowing the films to have happened. But is that so bad or unheard of?

Consider this: Pirates of The Caribbean - Disney film, Johnny Depp film or Gore Verbinski film? Well, actually all three but you can almost guarantee that if you ask Joe Ordinary, he'll probably tell you it's a Disney film. What input does Disney have in the finished product? Well, yes Hollywood is a different animal admittedly, but overall their input was probably minimal once the cameras started rolling. Their logo will still be all over the film, the posters and the press material, and they'll take the chunk of the money it brings in - so does that mean that the talent behind it suffers? Not at all. In this case, the Lab just acts as distributor to your film.

So consider the Lab as a film studio, and where does this leave the film-makers? Will they get any reward from this, either financially or artistically? This situation can be turned round by the machinimatographers themselves, as long as they're not putting their efforts into ranting about it. They can market themselves, exclusive of the Lab's efforts. The right thing for the Lab to do would be to not only give these film-makers a forum, but support these creators beyond that and make sure that if they (LL) are using residents' machinima as marketing material, that they will make sure that credit is given where it's due - and if that's a financial credit, and a creator earns from the work that they've created, the Lab should support that accordingly too; after all, they will ultimately benefit without taking a cut of any earnings but from the free exposure they're already taking. That will be the thing to watch, not picking apart someone's sentences.

Artists should use these opportunities to do just that. Use the stuff you create as a portfolio and use it to find other opportunities, if that's what you want; but don't try and tear it down just because you're not involved. At the end of the day, it'll be what you the creator puts into it that'll make it successful; a film studio (or in this case, the Lab) can dress up any old piece of junk and promote it, but an audience will still see it for what it's worth.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Gone Fishin'!


This is our Fishaversary dock!

I've been building it over the past couple of weeks in preparation for our participation in the 7Seas Fishing Fishaversary 2011 celebration this weekend. I used one of the trees that Wynx Whiplash made for the Shire that houses the treetop shops and adapted it to fit the 16 metre plot we have at our sim.

Come visit it!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Little Bee Visits Parallel Worlds

My pal Betty Rogan is an amazing in-world artist and her snapshots never cease to amaze me. Here's another beauty. It took me ages to spot Little Bee though! If you're struggling, you might want to head to her Flickr page - she's added a note!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Poppin'!

Machinima is hard to make. Lots of people try it with varying degrees of success. Some those people get high praise for their work, but most don't.

So, in an effort to try and give some more people the much deserved recognition that I think they deserve, I've teamed with fellow tiny machinimatographer Pyewacket Bellman and started a sister blog to this one: Virtual Popcorn, the machinima review blog!

What gives us the right to put forward our reviews? Well, for one, we make machinima. We've gone through the whole process of casting, filming, editing, scoring, titling and uploading a number of films between us. Are they all the best you can get? In some opinions, yes; in others, not at all. Personally, I can look at every film I've done to date and pick faults with almost all of them. Sometimes you don't see these things until you're watching them as a neutral observer and that's what I hope we'll be here. We will criticise where we feel criticism is needed and we'll applaud where it's deserved.

I hope you'll follow that blog too and if you know of any Second Life-generated machinima that you feel deserves more exposure, do let us know!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Humbling

Hmm, this blog entry from Mr Crap isn't good.

I used to work in the retail sector which - in my experienced opinion - is probably far more customer-focused than any other sector of business. In retail, your customers aren't miles away on the end of a telephone line or a randomly-generated name in a chat box but RIGHT THERE in front of you, so your customer service has to be second-to-none.

I was proud of the fact that when my shops (I worked in several across a chain) got back their bi-monthly Mystery Shopper scores, they were always within the top 2% of the company. 'What was my secret?' colleagues would ask. There was no secret: I simply instructed my team to treat each customer they helped as an individual, meet their individual needs, treat them like a human being with a human query, not as a potential cash-cow. Some in retail would suggest that this didn't get results - i.e. sales through the till - as you'd allow people to walk out without taking any money from them; but they'd come back, I'd argue, and more often than not they did, because they knew that they could trust that team to help them.

But the key question should have been: how difficult was it to achieve this? And my answer would be: as easy as opening your mouth to talk to someone. Simple as that.

If the Lab can't find someone with basic human decency to treat people as their equals; but the fact is, the Lab is probably populated now solely by computer engineers or coders - who again in my experience have as much social approach as a twig with a piece of dog crap stuck on the end of it; if you're a coder, feel free to argue your point - and that is where the Lab will fall down.

Bottom line: helping someone isn't hard. It isn't a chore. And the reward it brings from doing it right is immeasurable.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Caveman Style!


Chaffro playin Caveman style, originally uploaded by Caleb Kit.

I decided that our latest live music performer to the Shire - WashedUp Sideways - needed some backing performers, so took to my drum kit to support him. I also roped karmagirl Avro into helping out on the bongos too!

It's Pre-Hysterical Month around Raglan Shire this month, hence the reason we're all dressed up as cavemen and a huge tar pit has opened up in the middle of the sim!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Insilico



A beautifully atmospheric machinima capture of the quite wonderful INSILICO sim, by my pal and master machinimatographer Toxic Menges. Go visit it!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

MoM's Day

Wow, this looks interesting - the Lab's Linden Endowment of the Arts (LEA) is starting a Month of Machinima event from next month (on my birthday, no less!) which could prove useful in encouraging people to try out the medium.

It's nice to see the Lab actually acknowledging machinima again. Back in the day there used to be a nice - albeit small - focus on it, before the website got its dreadful Big Spaceship-led overhaul, but since then, it's fallen by the wayside. There's been lots of discussion in the past as to why the Lab took its focus away from it, but due to the diligence and perseverance of some extremely talented in-world film-makers it's proven time and again to be an extremely successful tool for promoting Virtual Worlds. It'd be nice for those people to start getting some proper recognition from the Lab!

Beautiful Bunny!


A tiny fairy, originally uploaded by Aime Takaaki.

No, this isn't me in a dress, but Aime Takaaki as a tiny fairy bunny! I just adore the finish to this picture; a fantastic work of art.

Misa Woods


TSW 4-1-01, originally uploaded by misa delight.

Misa Delight takes to the fairways. Beautiful picture!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Hip Hop Fox

A couple of years ago, I made a video for a medley of Parry Gripp tunes. One of the 'sequences' within that video was a spoof hip-hop sequence with Shady Fox, where he played the rapper part whilst three scantily clad young women danced behind him - pretty much like 95% of hip hop videos usually are, and I always wanted to expand on that idea.

So, this past weekend, I once again roped Shady in to film, alongside two scantily clad young women and a couple of guest stars. I filmed from two static camera positions, taking just under an hour to film it all and about 4-5 hours of editing work. This is the result.



Wyze Gicasso is an unsigned artist whose tracks I found when looking for some music to use. I didn't want to use an established artist as the video might've been muted by YouTube if there was any dispute. I did send Wyze a message asking him to take a look and if he didn't like it, I'd take it down; however, he replied saying that he liked it!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

An Otter Award Ceremony


Photo: Red carpet at Tiny Film Festival 2010 © Teal Freenote

This past weekend, I announced a date for our second ever Raglan Film Festival!

Last year, we had the Festival of tiny-oriented machinima just before the Oscars; this year however, I've been bogged down with dealing with an RL move of house, so couldn't commit to anything sooner until we really knew what was going on. However, I've now set a date for Sunday 12 June 2011!

More detailed information is on the Raglan Shire forum page here, but essentially, it's a festival (rather than a contest) to celebrate the joy of being a tiny in Second Life. Last year's event had about 10-15 films in total, a list of which is here and it was great to see how different people approached using different tiny avatars.

It's really open to anyone, and of any ability level. Toxic Menges gave me the chance to share some information about the event at this weeks' MachinimaMondays meeting, so hopefully we'll see some interest from machinimatographers from outside of the Shire too; and as an added bonus, EVERYONE who enters a film into this year's event will walk away with a Golden Otter prize as a reward!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Echelon SFX

I occasionally attend meetings of the group Machinima Mondays, a group started by two of my favourite machinimatographers, Toxic Menges and Chantal Harvey. The meetings are a chance for machinima film-makers to get together and share work, advice, solutions to problems and, if a Linden is there (as there was this past week), a chance to offer suggestions for a more-dedicated machinima viewer, or what elements would be useful to have in a viewer.

This week, I actually feel like I contributed something of use! I was able to share the link for my last piece of work (my Echelon Effect video) and talk about it. Some people asked whether I was using Space Navigator (a type of mouse) and had a really steady hand; however, I did explain how I'd done the single shot zoom effect using the SL viewer's Debug menu.

It was actually a tip I found from Torley Linden's video tutorials on YouTube - and if I could find the video again, I'd be posting a link to it now! Basically, what you do is change the time it takes for your camera view to switch back from a zoomed position or point back to its default position above an avatar's head.

To change the time, first you need to activate and open the Advanced menu on the viewer, by pressing Ctrl+Alt+D and then go down to Debug Settings; this opens the Debug dialog box.

In the command bar, you'll need to type zoomtime; this should then present you with a time option. By default, the setting will read 0.400 - that's the time it takes to go from a zoomed point back to default, less than half a second. For the video I shot, I knew the soundtrack ran to just under three minutes, so to give my video a bit of breathing room before the music started and just after it finished, I set my zoom time to 180.000 seconds. However, take note: before you change the zoom time, you should have already zoomed in on something (using, for Windows users at least, Alt + Left Mouse button), as if you then try and zoom after you've changed the zoom time, your new setting will already apply.

So, you've zoomed in on something and changed your zoom time? Now, to activate the zoom, I tend to use the Esc button. First, you'll need to click away from the Debug dialog box (as long as your zoom point is fixed using Alt+Left mouse button, it shouldn't be a problem); just left click on something nearby. Turn off all windows by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1, and then hit the Esc button twice - the first hit will close your Local Chat bar, and the second will activate your zoom. If everything goes to plan, you should then have a slow zoom (depending on what time you changed the zoom to) neatly back to above your head. In the video I shot, I wanted the camera to come to a natural stop but obviously didn't want to include myself in the shot, so I triggered an animation that would hide my avatar underground, without changing my avatar position.

It was nice to hear several people had learned something new from my explaining this, and they vowed to then go and use the effect in their own projects. I use it almost all the time in mine; I think the results it creates make a really nice touch.

If you're interested in learning more about Machinima from the people who make it, join the group and come along to Machinima Mondays. The meetings are held - unsurprisingly - on a Monday at two different times to cover as many time-zones as possible. It's either a small (virtual) world, or I know a lot of talented people, because almost every week I meet another tiny at one of the meetings!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Short And Sweet

I made a new machinima!

I needed to make something just to get me back into the creative flow of things; it's been a year since I did some machinima work, and although am not short of ideas, often find my ideas becoming so big and running away from me, that they become unmanageable, and I discard them. So I needed to change tact.

I got permission to use Flea Bussy and Toady Nakamura's amazing Avaria sims for filming, but didn't want to do anything too demanding. I just wanted to do something quick and easy, so found a good spot, ramped up the Draw Distance and Zoom Time and came up with this. The music is by a guy professionally known as The Echelon Effect, who I'm a really big fan of. He's been turning out some wonderful lush post-rock electronica soundscapes for a while, and I've been wanting to use his music for a video project for ages. This piece was just the right length to make this film work.

NB: The video screen looks small here, because it's widescreen. Best viewed full screen or on YouTube.



Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Dog Biscuits

I’ve spent the past few days helping a friend (who I actually struck up a friendship with through Twitter!) set up her new shop/business in-world.

Jenicca Gothly sells dog treats at her stores on Clos Normand and Port Babbage – but with a bit of a twist. These aren’t treats for virtual dogs, but actual REAL dog treat biscuits that she makes from her home and sells online.

The treats – of which there are currently three varieties – all contain natural ingredients. Jen makes them from home and sells them through an Etsy site, but being an avid SL-resident, she figured she could try and market them through whatever means were at her disposal. She’s rented two shop units so far, both on Victorian-era themed sims, so needed a shop interior that matched. She’ll be the first to admit that she’s not the best builder (but then neither am I), and by setting up everything she needed – signs, mailboxes, d├ęcor, etc – had run pretty close to her prim limit. I helped by tweaking a few bits here and there for her, building a new counter, finding some low-prim vintage-style furniture and just straightening a few wonky pictures.

How does it work then? Well, you just buy up one of the boxes in-world, send Jen your address details etc, and that’s it. Shipping and handling is included in the in-world price. The boxes (in—world) cost about L$2000, so you need to have invested some money into SL to get them, but I thought it was a really clever and secure way of handling payment!

I really like what Jen’s achieved so far, and I hope her business venture is a success! Woof!

New Year

It seems like 2010 was the least productive year for me in SL so far; I felt like I didn’t really make much or do much, other than use it to socialise and catch up with friends from each corner of the globe. I adore SL in that respect. For me, it is the best social networking community – it’s real-time – the MOST real-time social-network I believe is out there - it allows voice chat and it allows you to share creativity. Linden Lab needs to realise this, rather than waste time trying to unnecessarily develop more online social content. What they have here is unique and precedes a lot of other social networks, and it should be marketed as such, not trying to copy what’s followed.

I really want to do more in-world this year. Last year, RL took over, and probably understandably – I got married, for one! That took a lot of time, planning and saving and I was very fortunate to be able to cash-in and use some of my SL-sales to be able to pay for our wedding cake toppers! We (me and Nat a.k.a Kitti Dumpling in-world) rounded out our Second Life-connection by having two of our tiny friends - Mutley Latte and Josephine Planer - at our wedding too!

So, I hope to have turned out at least two pieces of Machinima by the time the year’s out, have organised at least one event for Raglan and made at least six outfits. They’re my Second Life New Year’s Resolutions!