Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Movies!

Here are my third and fourth projects for the first half of my film class. This first is called "Reunion", and it is about a man who has lost his beloved and longs to join her in the afterlife, which he ultimately does. The short was filmed on a Bolex 16mm camera in black and white.

The next video was shot on a Panasonic DVX-100 mini-DV camera. Called "Coffee Zombies", it's a humorous message about humanity's addiction to caffeine, with a bit of a poke at religion. If you can find the John Carpenter and Quentin Tarantino homages in this one, and answer what movies they honor, you get a free Internet cookie.

There were problems that arose with lighting on both projects, and the pacing on the second video could have been sped up some, but overall I was told by my instructor that the shots and composition were great. Next semester I'll definitely be improving my shooting skills with the camera, as well as tightening up my editing. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jumping the Shark with Mesh?

Rumors (and blog posts) are flying that some Whovian regions are using spiffy new mesh builds, with at least one sim going all in to completely revamp.  As I've written here and here, I think completely redesigning a region with mesh builds is premature.

For one thing, more SL users are still using third-party viewers that do not yet have the ability to see mesh builds in all their glory — stability issues with Viewer 2 and Viewer 3, and strong dislike for the crappy UI thereon, necessitate sticking with Viewer 1-based viewers.  This means that most SL users will not be able to see all those pretty mesh creations.

Another problem is in the cost of mesh imports, not only in terms of money but in prim-count.  The more complex the import, the more it costs to upload, and the larger and more complex the build, the higher the prim count.  While this may be fine for limited mesh importation in full-prim regions by people with money to burn, most people will find it cost-prohibitive.  What good is rebuilding a region completely when prims are limited and too many people won't be able to appreciate the work put in?

Does this mean that mesh is too impractical?  Initially, yes.  But things won't be so for long.  Third party viewers such as Cool VL Viewer, Singularity, and Phoenix have either already developed mesh-viewing capability or are on their way to bringing it into their systems.  The biggest problem, then, will be the cost prohibition.  Wiser land-owners will want to keep mesh imports to a minimum to help keep prim-count and lag down, as well as save money.  It will probably take a massive user petition to Linden Lab to bring down the monetary and prim costs for mesh, too.

For a more positive outlook on mesh, here's a review worth reading.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Is Second Life a Community, or a Business Venture?

I happened on a blog that discusses, among other things, Second Life (you don't need to know how), and found what turned out to be a very interesting discussion on just what people think SL is and isn't.

My own opinion is that SL is pretty much what its users choose to make of it. Some prefer to make it all about business, destroying competitors, and being the end all and be all of whatever fan- or niche-based community they settle into in this virtual world. Others use SL to socialize — to connect with people who would otherwise be so far away as to make personal interaction impossible; through the magic of cyberspace, people are able to make those connections and grow from them. Still others employ SL as a way to explore their creative abilities and share the results thereof with others. You've got people who use it as another form of online gaming. Over there are the educators who use SL to enhance the experiences of their students. Then there are people who do some combination of those things, and much much more. The list can go on for quite a way.

Me, I fall into the combo category: I like to explore my creative talents (though I've admittedly cheated and gotten caught, but no need to go into that again) while socializing with people I ordinarily wouldn't be able to connect with. I consider myself much richer in terms of the bonds I've formed than I was before I discovered SL.

One point that was made by a few people in the thread including myself, and I happen to agree with this, is that while the activities we all engage in are pixel-based and have no more substance than the air we breathe, the people behind the pretty avatars are very very real. Our feelings are real, and the actions we engage in, both on and off the virtual grid of Second Life, can — and all too often do — have real consequences.

Fortunately, unlike real life, SL has a mute button. We can block out the griefers, the ego-driven stalkers and bullies, the card-carrying liars, the narcissists. Sometimes it isn't always possible to do that, like when people violate the virtual boundaries of SL to go after people in the real world. But for the most part, we don't have to put up with the drama. Once that simple thing is done, once that mute button is hit, we can go about our virtual experiences and have fun — the very reason SL exists.

Bottom line: whatever Second Life is to you, is just that, and what others make of SL is what they make it to themselves. That's the real magic of SL and similar virtual communities.

I made movies!

Here are the first two projects I did for my film class this semester.  Footage for Project 3 should come in today or tomorrow, allowing me to edit it all into something awesome. These film shorts were filmed on a Bolex 16mm film camera, in glorious black and white.

This was the one-shot project; our assignment was to gauge our ability to shoot something in only one take, with no cuts or stopping of the camera. In the above-linked short, two guys meet, ostensibly to discuss something important, but things quickly degenerate into a physical altercation that sends #1 to the ground. #2 comes back to deliver a kick to #1 while he's down. If this were applied to me versus life itself, I would be Guy #1 and Life would be Guy #2.

This was our in-camera-edit project. We had to film the bits in sequential order. We also had to present assigned shot types, such as close-up, extreme close-up, Dutch or canted angles, tracking and tilt shots, and so on. In this film short, a couple is having problems communicating. The woman is trying to explain that her guy doesn't listen very well, but what he hears isn't what she's saying. She loses her temper, finally prompting the guy to pay attention to his gal's feelings. The shaky dolly shot of the opening door wasn't actually intended to be shaky. We were moving on a highly uneven sidewalk.

I'll post my edited Project 3 once it's finished and uploaded.


I may soon be able to log onto SL from where I'm currently staying, so I won't have to rely so much on school terminals.


Last night I witnessed a deer be hit by a car and live to run away. The poor thing ran out into oncoming traffic, because its territory had been eliminated forcing it to exist in the city. I saw this animal tumble-fly and land badly, but it was able to get back up right away and run the rest of the way across the road. The driver not only chose to keep going when the deer ran in front of his or her vehicle, but didn't even stop to check if it was alright. Asshole.