Hey everyone! The Pittsburgh Business Times posted an article about Second Life and machinima today, and I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by the journalist. It was really fun showing her what Second Life is all about! Here is the article:
Ariella Furman makes animated movies, but she doesn’t have a big fancy studio full of computers.
Instead, the 24-year-old is armed with her MacBook and the program Second Life.
From her Pittsburgh base, Furman uses the virtual environment to film her 3D animated short films and collaborates with teams of designers and actors, many of which she has never met in “real life.”
The technique is called Machinima, and Furman uses the tools within Second Life to build sets, set lighting and work with real actors to film short movies for her clients, which include companies such as IBM, Seimens and Eli Lilly. She gives direction to the actors, then has a program that allows her to film what she sees in the virtual world by recording what is in her browser window.
She founded her company in 2007 and has since made 50 short films. For a typical, two-minute animated movie, the price is $2,500 to $3,000, though she has had some projects as high as $15,000.
“Anyone can make a video,” she said. “What makes virtual worlds different is you can’t shoot a lot of this stuff, (but in a virtual world) you can prototype your vision.”
One such project included making a movie for a client that wanted to envision their business in the year 2020.
She won’t reveal her revenue, but says she has seen a 30 percent increase in her business between 2009 and 2010 as more companies want to incorporate 3D animation into their marketing or training. In the case of her IBM project, her movie was shown in a conference in Second Life.
In addition to filming her movies in Second Life, she does a great deal of networking and lead generation within the world by attending conferences and lectures, and other networking events.
Registration is free for Second Life, a product of San Francisco-based Linden Labs, but becoming a “landowner” takes cash. In the world, a business or a user can purchase property to build an environment. One region, the equivalent of 2.5 square miles, costs $1,000 in a setup fee, then $295 a month per region.
A Linden Labs spokesman would only say that hundreds of businesses own land in Second Life but declined to give specifics.
Like Furman, there are hundreds of “solution providers” that will work with businesses on setting up environments within Second Life. Linden Labs lists more than 300 on its website and encourages people to build on the company’s technology.
“Second Life is an open platform for creativity, and we’re happy to see entrepreneurs use Second Life in ways that bring additional value to the virtual world or that help others benefit from it,” said company spokesman Peter Gray in an e-mail response.