The Visualization of Data– in Virtual Worlds!

June 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm (Spotlight)

One of the pages from our Storyboard

When I first met Annabelle Fanshaw (SL) to produce an animation video for her project, we instantly clicked. Ann’s goal? To show how much data effects our lives and can enrich us. She wanted to capture something to an extent that was not available to us in the physical world yet. However, the “Possibilities” of the virtual world made it easy to prototype her vision. In essence, the vision was to capture the “visualization of data.” I learned the importance of data and how much we take it for granted. It is not a coincidence that the video is called, “Possibilities” either. ūüôā Read the rest of this entry »


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Fluidity of Movement in Avatars

May 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm (3d animation, animation, computer animation, Machinima, second life)

At times, puppeteering an avatar for a machinima shoot feels a lot like you’re a mad scientist probing at your Frankenstein creation.  Suddenly, your creation comes alive and it looks gorgeous on the exterior, but then it stands up, takes a couple steps, and you realized you’ve created a clumsy disaster.

The standard Second Life animations that come with a newbie avatar are very short of impressive. Their feet kind of slide across the floor, they needlessly spread their legs apart with every position. With machinima, this can turn heads away to tune in elsewhere. How can the audience relate to the characters in the story when those characters use their hands in a dorky typing motion to communicate?

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Do filmmakers really think about every single detail and nuance in their films? Or does the film’s brilliance happen with social praise?

April 28, 2010 at 1:09 pm (Machinima)

Vertical lines mean suspense, the feeling of being enclosed

One of the biggest criticisms of machinima is that it looks too familiar, perhaps too familiar. “Isn’t that the Sims?” ūüôā ¬†“Oh.. that’s that Second Life thing, isn’t it?”

Ok ok, I see what you’re saying. Sometimes it looks like its 3 frames a second, all the avatars look like newbs, and a simple breathing, idle animation makes an avatar look like they have a “rocking back and forth” disorder. So, I got inspired to write this article about how YOU CAN AVOID MAKING IT LOOK UNNATURAL! I showed a dear friend of mine some samples of my fav. all-star machinima and she refused to believe it was Second Life, “Are you kidding? I could go spend 5k on a good computer right now and I would NEVER see that!” ¬†The thing is, the best machinima that’s out there is winning animation festivals and completely turning heads- and most of it doesn’t look like Second Life! I myself have been guilty of starring at Ill Clan’s machinima and muttering, “You’ve got to be kidding me! They must have some modified version of Second Life on speed.” ¬†After working with the good guys at the Clans for a couple weeks as their newb machinimatographer and also doing some projects for other cool folks in my web, I learned a few techniques and secrets. What’s the secret, exactly? It’s just a matter of “tricking” the eye. Good old camera tricks that will never get old! And that my friends, is it!

I pledge that for the next couple weeks, I’ll make this into a series of ways how to make a machinima look more realistic. This week, I’ll start with style. Other weeks I’ll ¬†talk about character animations. For now, this will give you a good start!

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Help me Re-define the Definition of Machinima!

April 4, 2010 at 7:55 pm (Home, Machinima)


C'mon Wikipedia, you can do better than that!

So I’m sitting here in an open-air coffee place on one of the first warm days of the season being a negative fart and probably putting everyone around me in a bad mood. So, what’s my problem? The above definition of machinima is too specific! I think this definition doesn’t grasp the large-scale image, the “what could be” of machinima. So what if we looked at this from a different approach and re-defined the definition to include something more broad? Could we include the idea of global in the definition? Keep reading– I have an exercise for everyone at the end.. I hope we can get some good responses going!

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Machinima Woes!

March 15, 2010 at 2:02 am (Home, Machinima)

"Those annoying Star things"

Those annoying star things

When shooting machinima, sometimes you run into a few technical walls. Not to fret— I ripped my hair out over these issues for you already and have come up with some solutions. ūüėÄ

Issue: When I’m filming, an avatar started to edit something and white stars shoot out of their hand. Help!

Solution: Turn on your advanced menu. Click advanced- Rendering- Types- Particles and let go. Particles will no longer be seen, including those annoying star things. Careful though, it will also turn off any effects such as a campfire, fog, etc.

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Why 2 cameras during a live machinima shoot can save your (pardon my french)

March 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm (Home, Machinima)

Robot arms a comin'

In the real world, live shoots are intense. You got a bunch of union guys on every corner of the room with these big robotic moving arm things, while another guy is in the back surrounded by what looks like bullet proof glass configuring a huge switchboard, which essentially switches from one camera view to another. Believe me, I was in that scenario. And my large robotic arm knocked a screaming teenage girl on the head during a heart-throb JPop concert (woops). In machinima, none of this is the case. Well, hypothetically it is but it’s a lot less complex and show-y.

If you are planning a live event and want machinima coverage, I URGE you to consider two individuals on 2 cameras. Planned well, you can get an assortment of nice shots that wouldn’t have been possible because with one camera, you’re just so focused on getting the conservative, front-on shot that you overlook the glorious moments that you can experiment with. Last week I shot a graduation ceremony in Second Life for Manchester School of Business and worked with a very talented machinimatographer named Cisko. What I got back from him was GOLDEN footage and a little extra sauce for the editing stage (he even had time to get some neat artsy shots of the venue and other shots that are low priority but sometimes end up being the most memorable footage).

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University class takes hold of the reins to a rapper’s fame– in Second Life!

February 26, 2010 at 4:13 am (Home, Machinima)

Legrand's album cover for "The Professional"

I’m been networking with a teacher from Temple University’s Japan campus about his very very intriguing class project in Second Life. The students have all been participating on a project that will launch hip hop artist Legrand’s career– in the virtual world! This project is appropriately called, linsl, or Legrand in Second Life.

I met with Jean-Julien the other day about this project. He says Japan’s music scene is really unique. If you aren’t big somewhere else first, you won’t get big in Japan. In other words, it’s not really a place where musicians get discovered that easily. So, by launching his career in Second Life and cushioning him there with some good publicity, the Japanese crowd would potentially pick up on his talent.

The students will be responsible for everything in the launch- including pre-preduction for the music video (storyboard and planning), the filming, and ¬†the post-production, which is something one of the video students are taking on. The class will also take on distribution for the artist, promoting him in Second Life, which a lot of legwork is already done for them with SL’s active musician scene.

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February 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm (Home, Spotlight)

Prepping actor with a headset

Prepping the actor with a headset

Getting to work with on their promotional videos was a thrill! The balance of the real and virtual productions were challenging at the very least.

For the virtual footage, we shot it in 1 day at different hotspots in there. A bunch of their employees played 1 of the 6 characters- we couldn’t have 1 person log in as more than one because the planned shot were so action-based that they’d constantly have to be toggling something. We shot all types of scenes and it was hard limiting the footage down to the 30 seconds. Most of the footage was selected based on the focal lengths– the commercial was all about having fun and expressing emotion. Emotion shines through the best in closeups!

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Utopia of Virtual Worlds

February 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm (Home)

A lot of people discredit the phenomenon of virtual worlds, saying it will distance people from society. “Experts” claim that children who delve in video games find it more difficult to read facial expressions and understand emotions. I’d like to agree to disagree with all the above. What I DO believe is that in general, people are going out a lot less than they used to, since so much of the ability to connect has gone online. With a few changes to the world’s architectural design, however, that can change.

The “experts” should look at our society today instead of discrediting virtual worlds. I take the train avidly during the week pass long towers of buildings, where within lay endless cubicles. If anything distances one from their peers, it is the cubicle. The building’s floors are monotone colors, uninviting and intimidating, making even the beauty of the magic hour sky stir up goosebumps. In Philadelphia, there are a few buildings that try to paint over this truth by building more aesthetic architecture. It doesn’t shade the fact that looking through the windows, it looks like death. Copy machines, walls, limiting dress codes, poor ventilation.

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Machinima as a Business Language

February 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm (Home, Machinima)

Photorealistic avatars are possible

Article by Ariella Furman, originally posted on

The world of business embodies many different languages. Machinima is just one of those languages, that when combined with a brand, can produce limitless possibilities. When I first entered Virtual worlds, I started out by making a documentary about a Second Life Amazon tribe for my film class for fun. This work was noticed by a few solution providers whom I teamed up with. After working with some great brands, I began to follow them out of curiosity. Why machinima?

After analyzing the many uses these brand managers had for their products I realized, how valuable machinima is for business, in no particular order:

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