Completely Machinima S2 Ep 33 Films (March 2022)
This month, Ricky, Phil, Tracy and Damien discuss machinima and real-time productions made in Second Life including documentaries illustrating life on the ‘grid’, events and experiences such as an art collector’s paradise, a potted history of the environment, a sci-fi convention, extraordinary examples of films that show the unique qualities of the Second Life creative community, a tutorial and a new cyberpunk drama series. The co-hosts also discuss their perspectives on the importance of Second Life as a creative platform for machinima. Credits: Producer/Editor: Ricky Grove Music: Outside the Universe by Joel Cummins
Damien Valentine, Tracy Harwood, Ricky Grove, Phil Rice
Ricky Grove 00:11
Hello and welcome to A Now For Something Completely Machinima podcast. Machinima is a form of filmmaking where you create 3d animated films inside of a video game, or a real time engine. This is episode 58 and in this episode, we'll be reviewing machinima films we find interesting. And the theme this month is Second Life. The original Metaverse started way back in 2003 and still going strong. I'd like to introduce my fellow podcasters. Damian Valentine. Hello, Damian. Phil Rice. Hey, how's it going? Good. And Tracy Harwood?
Tracy Harwood 00:49
Hi, how you doing everyone.
Ricky Grove 00:51
Good. It's so good to be with you all today. I sure enjoy these sessions where we talk about films. Me too. Phil, wanted to ask you, there was a little news item that you wanted to share with us. And since you weren't here last time. Could you tell us about it? Are you prepared to do that?
Phil Rice 01:11
Yeah, as soon as I can remember what that was? It was a
Ricky Grove 01:15
CAPTCHA. It was a
Phil Rice 01:17
Yes. So yeah, there's there's some kind of the tool is called Plask, P L, A, S K. And it is a basically, it's an endeavour toward a motion capture tool through just regular webcam like camera footage, which we've seen people play with that before to varying degrees of success. This one, at least lets you get started with it for free. Probably because they're, you know, they're still doing doing testing on it. I have not got to play with it yet I attended to but just ran out of time, but it's at the website plastc.ai. And they describe it as AI motion capture and 3d animation tool. The demo videos look pretty impressive. They'll show
Ricky Grove 02:07
I watch the demo number pretty good. Yeah.
Phil Rice 02:10
So I don't know how much. I think one of the perks is that the AI is supposed to be helping with. You know, typically, when you do motion capture, there's clean up there, right? There inevitably is clean up to smooth things out and all that and this supposedly smooth some of those rough edges automatically. So I'll tell you what, let's put it to the listeners if anyone out there gives it a try. Evan Ryan, I'm talking to you. Let us know how it goes. And we'll we'll we'll feature your comments here on the right episode.
Ricky Grove 02:48
And if you record something, and send it send us the audio, we'll include that. Absolutely. Great. Thank you, Phil. Hey, all right. Since our theme is Second Life, I thought it might be fun to talk a little bit about it first before we launch right into the films. And I here's my first question. You know, every game engine used to create machinima uses the visual world of characters and the stories of that game. But Second Life doesn't have any specific goals. It's a landscape that consists entirely of user generated content. Everything you see has been built by someone else. So what's unique about a Second Life machinimas is it isn't a narrative game like Half Life 2, or Red Dead Redemption, so where to filmmakers find stories and characters to depict in their films?
Phil Rice 03:47
It seems like from from once that I've seen over the years that one of the sources of inspiration is experiences that they've had in, in Second Life at playing as their avatars and not necessarily even role playing experiences, but just just real interactions or things that they've built together or that kind of thing. So they end up drawing inspiration from that. That's, that's, that's a trend that I've seen in some some films.
Tracy Harwood 04:17
Yeah, I was gonna say something very similar, because I think part of the attraction of it has to be this the kind of rich aesthetic of the of the sort of the 3d virtual space and the probably the relative ease that you can modify the characters and the virtual assets. But I think as Phil says, a lot of the, the content that you see created is based on the experiences of going round as a tourist almost, and exploring, you know, the various different spaces. It's kind of, it's kind of a place of discovery. Right? I think, I think If you can stand the hassle of you know, you know from the from the griefers, in the in the kind of the various places that you you visit, I guess one of the things that you can say, you know, sort of, I guess one of the things that you can say about it really is that when Second Life was was developed, though, there was a lot of careful thought that went into who owns what content, if you're, if you remember, you know, that was a, that was a big debate at the time that it was made. And the fact that you own your own content, basically means that if you're going to create stuff, you don't have to negotiate it with the, you know, the Linden labs or whatever, you can negotiate it locally with the people that have created the sims. And that's sort of created this sort of basis for a rich exchange between between folks that has enabled this sort of, you know, machinima documentation, if you like to, to emerge in vast quantities about the various kinds of experiences that people have in that world. And I think that's slightly different to how other environments have developed, the fact that it's, you know, this rich aesthetic form, which is unlike anything else, pretty much. And, you know, the fact that you can negotiate access to the content with whoever owns it. Right, right.
Ricky Grove 06:34
That's true. I was curious and looking at the films that all of that we all selected for today's podcast, that it has shared several themes. And one of the themes is a documentary like machinima of a specific installation, or a specific event that occurred in Second Life that reflects your comment just now about how people make films of the activities that are going on in Second Life. And another interesting one is the sort of dance video the kind of where groups of people get together and do a formal dance, or, or like a dance ensemble, or just a party, where people film the party and people are dancing and things like that. And then the third one that I saw was the sort of how can I say sort of the memoire, machinima where people talk about their individual experience, and, and semi fictionalised that like, I did this and now I'm going through this world. And here I am. And this is my feelings about it. And this is what it is. He's sort of sharing their own particular feeling. You don't get any of those forms in any of the other machinima games like Half Life 2, certainly Grand Theft Auto, I mean, can you imagine a Grand Theft Auto machinima of a an installation, you know, it just, it's just not gonna happen. They take. They take elements of the theme of that world, and then they make fictionalised films from that. And then the last thing I see as being a recurring form in Second Life, is the abstraction. The abstract film. You don't say any of that in any of the other games, with, with some exceptions, but mostly not. Because all of the games are realistic, they depict realistic places realistic worlds, oftentimes poetically realistic, but realistic, nonetheless. Whereas in Second Life machinima, there's a more artistic sensibility towards it, meaning that they're willing to abstract their experiences, because there are literally places in Second Life that are abstracted already. You know, it's an abstracted world. And I just find those I find that fascinating. Do you guys see those? Those forms in Second Life? Or am I off the mark?
Damien Valentine 09:09
No, I think you're right. So I remember when we were doing the Machinima Expo. Anytime a film was submitted from Second Life, it was more likely to be an abstract film than a narrative film. Because the platform Second Life is really suited for that. And I think Moviestorm and iClone offer because they offer the same kind of creative creativity in being able to basically do whatever you like bringing your own content, you get some of those kind of abstract elements, but like you said, games aren't designed for that. So that's why you very rarely see it in a game but you'll see it in something like Second Life which encourages people to be more creative.
Tracy Harwood 09:49
That's right. I think it's to do with that rich aesthetic of it. Which then you know, the fact that you can modify it and do stuff with that aesthetic I think That's partly why you see that. Yeah, I mean, I was reflecting on this earlier as well as thinking, you know, the one thing you don't actually see too much of is the in-joke type film. Ah, that's right. You don't see a lot of, you know, poking fun at each other in a comedic way that you used to see in the early in the early machinima films that were more game based. Yeah, yeah. It's serious stuff. And it's, and it's largely all replicating something else. So this connection to real life is, I think, incredibly evident in most of the stuff that, that you see, even though of course, it isn't a, you know, a mirror world or anything like that. Because, you know, the physics is completely well, designed to be a little different. It's not completely different, but it's a little different. But it's all trying to replicate real life stuff, which I've always found bizarre, to say the least.
Ricky Grove 11:01
Yes, that's right.
Tracy Harwood 11:03
You know, so you know, your comment about dance videos, and all that sort of stuff. Just really, it's just, I don't just go to a disco or something. Is it? Is that even a common parlance term these days? Yeah, this nightclub or whatever. But
Ricky Grove 11:20
one thing I do like about Second Life Is it since to have more involvement with women in creating machinima than many other machinimas partly because the the stories in many games are male oriented stories. And the women tend to have sort of stock roles in those games, where as Second life, you can have an entire area that's been created by a woman or groups of women, and they want to get involved in the aesthetic and the creative experience, just like the men do. So I think I like the fact that in Second Life, you see more work by women than you do another type of types of machinima.
Tracy Harwood 12:03
Yeah, and I think the other thing I've seen, as well as its, its described, really, as a 3d virtual chat and economy system. Rather than a, you know, the, rather than a creative platform, although we obviously have always focused on the sort of creative side of it, that, you know, folks don't really go in there, generally speaking to create, they go in there to, to socialise, which is kind of interesting. I mean, just thinking about some of your comments there, as well as I was kind of reflecting that. And it's evident in some of the films that we're going to be talking about as well. There is this kind of connection, I think, to people living out something beyond what they are capable of living in at the moment in their physical world. And, you know, there's there. I think, over the years that I've sort of seen Second Life films, I've seen a lot of stuff where people have gone in, because, you know, they've been in accidents, or their handicap, now handicapped in some way, or they've gotten, you know, cancer or, you know, some other kind of serious problem that, that has a major impact on their physical life. And they've gone into this virtual space, sometimes with the trace of that evident in what they portray, but very often to do something that they can not know, or any longer do in their real life. Right. And I, you know, we've seen quite a few films explore that, beyond what is real kind of thing, I think. And when we talk about some of the film's later I've got some comments on that as well, because I do think that comes through, in quite a lot of what we, we look at at today. But you know, if you were going to make a horse opera or a space drama or a car chase, you just wouldn't do it in Second Life, would you?
Ricky Grove 14:20
You could if you wanted to, because that all the materials are there. But generally, it's not what most people do.
Tracy Harwood 14:26
Yeah. Yeah, it's a different mindset. I think going into this one.
Ricky Grove 14:30
it. I have one last question before we launch into the films and it's for you, Phil. Phil, and I worked intensely in Second Life for several years, producing a machinima film festival called the Machinima Expo. And during those that time, we encountered the worst and the best of what a second life had to offer. I wanted to ask you for what did you think of that experience of producing and creating and Second Life?
Phil Rice 14:59
Well, worth the trouble. In no regrets about it whatsoever? I mean, there were there were times when it was frustrating. I remember a particular time when you were you were trying to interview one of the filmmakers who had been, I think, given some kind of a jury award. And you were trying to conduct an interview with the the reverence, let's say, and sincerity that you do. And then yeah, someone came up and was interfering. And I think, you know, borderline pornographic in the way that they were interfering. But those those moments I, that's not what I remember. I mean, I remember those. So we laugh about them. But what I recollect about the experience is just the that that demonstrate that that was really my first opportunity to actually do some of this, you know, complete blank slate, build whatever. And we did some tributes to Peter Rasmussen's work, right. There was an area where we showcased some of Tom Jantol's work, I believe, and so, you know, his his aesthetic tends very much toward the surreal. And Lainey Voom, who will, we'll be talking about one of her films later, one of the years, we actually kind of commissioned her to oversee almost all of the design. And oh, my goodness, just extraordinary. I remember think that the the tools that you build within there are you You start by working with primitives really, you know, squares and spheres and things like that. And then you can shape those and morph them and cut them up. And you'd never know it from looking at the result, though. just extraordinary. And yeah, I can't think of any other platform. Even Damien you mentioned, iClone an Unreal like those, but all of those really, those modern platforms, they're fairly dependent for most people on content created by someone else, like in a content store kind of scenario. Yeah, characters for props for things like that. And there's nothing wrong with that. That's very, very time efficient to have that resource. And Second Life has a content store, so to speak, there are creators who design things and you can purchase them with Linden Dollars and save yourself a tonne of trouble or leverage and expertise that you just don't have, you know, I can't I can't design a ballroom gown from the 1800s. But there's somebody in there who does, you know, who does it amazingly. So. Yeah, all fond memories of that. And I still feel the same way about Second Life in terms of, even with as much as we saw creators do there. It's still largely untapped. Like it's, it has not been taken to its fullest potential, yet. There's so much potential there when you've got blank slate, competent design tools and the only limits your imagination, really? Yeah. That's extraordinary. And the only thing amazing about Second Life is that someone else hasn't come along and done something comparable yet. Yep. Yeah. There's nothing, nothing on that level yet.
Ricky Grove 18:37
Yeah. My not sure why your comments are exactly my feelings and thoughts as well. However, one thing bothered me quite a bit. And that was the lag in events. And I found it and it's partially the reason is that it's that Second Life streams all the data to the user live. And it doesn't do a lot of caching, of recurring events, or recurring elements of it. And I was curious to find out that, in January of 2021, Linden Labs completed the migration of all of its services and databases to AWS servers, which are Amazon based serve, right. And so if anybody is listening, and they're an active, Second Life, user or creator or machinima, film creator, has there been a difference since January 2021, in the streaming and lag in your experience of Second Life? Because those servers in Amazon are just fantastic. So that might be a big difference that we just since we haven't been there, we don't we don't know about let us know about that. A few. If you Yeah, I'm
Phil Rice 19:59
very curious to Ricky about if you remember how the we tried, we kind of pushed it to the, to the max of what you can get there in terms of Yeah, I mean reels of video and you know, interacting with audio and stuff like that and the video was very, there's a lot of work to set that up. And then even then, it wasn't tremendously reliable. It was all Quick Time formats, which are beautiful. But they never have really, they never have been the cutting edge of streaming. If you're going this is what 2008 2009 were the main years, where we really went all out in there. YouTube at that point was only what three years old? Mm hmm. I mean, Netflix, Netflix was still mailing DVDs. Yep. You know, streaming video has come a long way in these past this past decade. So I'd be curious, is any of that improvement to delivering video in high quality? As, as Second Life been able to leverage any of that for those, let's say extra media services. Because for us personally, that was a big part of the attraction is that we could also do that.
Ricky Grove 21:16
Damien, you had a comment? Yeah,
Damien Valentine 21:18
I was gonna say, not just the streaming video, but the number of people that come to the expert as well. I'm, when we started getting one or 200 people trying to watch, you just couldn't move because the lag is impossible. So wherever you were, you were stuck there. And you just had to enjoy the Expo from that point, because you just couldn't walk around, you couldn't move the camera. Because the service wasn't really designed to hold that many people in one spot at the same time. So I hope that's improved since then. Yeah, that's something that stuck came to mind as well,
Ricky Grove 21:51
I would think they'd have to, because since COVID, there have been a lot of companies and educational institutions that have gone to Second Life or virtual learning or virtual meetings. So I'd think since they could see that as a way of making profit, they would put more research into making sure that was a good experience.
Phil Rice 22:13
I would think so too. Yeah. Maybe we need to pop back in there, Ricky. Oh, my God.
Tracy Harwood 22:21
Maybe we should run one of our shows from in there.
Ricky Grove 22:24
Yes, maybe I was thinking that too. Well, listen, we've been jabbering on let's get to our films. That's our favourite thing. I'd like to start out with my selections. I have two selections. And then a couple of little mentions. The first one is a film called The Portrait of a Virtual Art Collector: Joseph K by Preben Wolff. And it's a form that I was talking about earlier called the personal essay, or a documentary of a second life art collector whose passion for Virtual Art led him to open a gallery, much of the film consists of the narrator, Josep K. Interesting echo to Franz Kafka's K, walking through his art gallery and talking about how he became a second life art collector, lots and lots of art as shown along with the credits for each piece. The there's, there's sort of club music that goes through that, which I thought was pretty cool initially, but after a while, it becomes such a bit wearing, I find that a fascinating piece. And I it's a kind of thing that I think could only be shot in Second Life. But did you guys think of it?
Damien Valentine 23:33
I felt like it's a very personal film from the director because he's showing off his own personal collection, which is obvious, spent quite a long time building this, this art gallery, and filling it up with bits of artwork that he's found throughout Second Life. And obviously, he wants to share that with people. So he made this video of him walking around, he talks about how he got into it, like you said, and he talks about some of his favourite pieces. And yeah, something that's very unique to Second Life because he couldn't do that. In any other you can do in any game because you don't buy other people's artwork in game. Right, right. What's the sin the game and you wouldn't do it in something like Ico because you can't really share that virtual environment with anyone. It's just your video. So that is something that I think is can only ever be made in a platform like Second Life.
Ricky Grove 24:29
Tracy Harwood 24:31
Well, from my perspective, I mean, listening to some of the comments that he makes. So this is this is a story about a guy who calls himself Joseph K. But his real name I think, is Preben Wolff. And he's been this virtual art collector for five years, just five years, and he's accumulated this vast collection. And I think what struck me about it is that it's a it's a gallery full of static objects, which I think is really quite interesting because it's, it's, you know, to my point earlier, really. So it's a replica of a real life gallery, with very little attention paid to the interactive nature of digital objects. And the art displayed or are presented in this video doesn't represent the nature of the virtual beyond being a collection of digital things. And I think what Preben Wolff, does explain is that the laws of physics are played with a little bit well he says in the artworks, but I don't think he means in the artworks, I think what he's talking about is in their presentation, rather than their content, so they float, or you can walk through them, that kind of thing. And I think it's when he starts talking about how the art can be interactive, that this collection actually becomes more interesting, but I think the film is really, you know, just presents a collection of dead stuff represented at rep, representational things. And there's another interesting point that he makes, which, which I'd like to pick up on as well, which is that he reflects on one particular artist that we we probably all have heard of, or have met at some point or another, and tours through Second Life. And that's Save Me Oh, yeah. But again, what he's collected, and what he presented are the pieces that the artists used in the installations, rather than the performance, which they Save Me used to create. Which is a bit odd, I think, interesting. Now, you know, for those of you that don't know, Save Me Oh's interventions in Second Life, were really meant to disrupt both the sort of social conventions in the environment, and also the the shared rules, which are replicated in Second Life. And her work primarily poses, I think, I think, a couple of fascinating questions, really, which is, you know, all around why do people feel it necessary to behave as if they are in real life? Instead of, you know, acting out their full creative potential? And it's a really, I think it is an interesting question is, it's one that I don't fully understand as to why even though Preben acknowledges that as an interesting area, it's not actually portrayed in this video either. Now, then, you've got to ask yourself, what is this machinima really about, and it's not really about the collection at all. In my view, it's about the artist. Sorry, that sir, the creator, the curator, Preben himself. And what he's trying to portray, in my view, is this kind of throwback to the 1970s of the this kind of person who's a philanthropic character that lives for the pursuit of the object then secretes himself into this stuff. And one can imagine kind of periodically holding cocktail parties to show it all off. Kind of yow is richer in cultural terms you'd like to speak. And there's some hidden things within it, which are also a little bit intriguing, which, which had to do with what he's collecting and the aesthetic of what he's collected. He's clearly fascinated by the feet female form, and also surrealism and abstract images. But none of none of that about him, is actually well captured in that video. And I think I would encourage them to sort of do a little bit more around, you're going to do this kind of style of thing, capture the essence of who the actual characters are as well. Right? Because for me, it's a little bit flat on that. I see. And to that point, really, I guess it raises another question, which is, if you are the creator of content that are bought by such as Preben, then wouldn't you want to ask yourself for whom is this stuff being created and how are they going to use it and why? And I didn't get a sense of any of that in this documentary. Yes, Gallery at all. So some quite deep thoughts there but it's
Ricky Grove 29:53
true one you wanted him to do more with his essay than just a walkthrough and a brag about his stuff? Absolutely.
Tracy Harwood 30:01
I think there's a story there that is not told. And kind of, I was curious to know more about what that story was.
Ricky Grove 30:08
Got it. Phil, what did you think?
Phil Rice 30:10
I had a very, very different experience with it. I found that I, my analytical faculties shut down. And I just went on a walk with this guy through this art gallery. Realising as I was doing it, I haven't had an opportunity to do that in real life in I cannot remember how long now it's one of those where you just walk through you, me? I don't say anything to anybody. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to say, Oh, what do you see you this. That's like, the most annoying thing in the world. For me, I just want to go and just stare and immerse and experience. And I found that I did that. And you could give me a pop quiz right now on what he talked about. I would fail. I didn't pay any attention. I didn't have it muted. But I just zoned out for me, because I was just entranced by this, this art and mind you? It's not because necessarily, the art was all pleasant to look at or enjoyable, some of it was positively horrifying. But that's good art, you know? So, yeah, I had just a kind of a vicarious experience of just walking it with them. And it probably would have been the same if I had toured it with Joseph K. And he was yappin the whole time, I would have just tone just tuned him out completely. And just been you know, slack jawed looking at all this art that, you know, I think because we've talked about this many times before, but even before this show existed, that that when we would review abstract works with the Expo, for example. And I would confess that man, that is just not a fountain that springs from me, you know, or it's not anything I've ever learned how to harness that, that abstraction in art. So as a result, I'm just entranced by it. I'm fascinated by it. I don't claim to understand it. I would make a horrible art critic. Because I don't even know how to talk about it. Other than it did something to me, emotionally. And, yeah, I just find that I mean, I'm now 50 year old father of two teenagers working most weeks, seven days a week repairing computers and managing networks. And I'm sorry, tours of art galleries are just not part of my life. Not to mention, in a part of the country where there isn't one nearby at all. So I was just fascinated and grateful for the experience. So yeah, I don't know how helpful that is. I don't know how to how to review it as a film. Yeah, other than it just did something I didn't expect to me and I'm grateful for it.
Ricky Grove 33:29
Wow, what great comments, you guys. Thank you. I don't think you get off we often get this range of comments on a lot of film films that we that we review here, so I'm really happy that this film brought up a lot of thinking and feelings. I wanted to quickly go on to my second pick which is Pryda Parx's Future Shock machinima series documentary. Pryda Parx is a machinima filmmaker, and she shares her workflow on how she creates machinima. It's more of a practical, almost tutorial like machinima. I chose it because of its informational content. And it's a fun way to learn about machinima in Second Life, and as a contrast to the Portrait of a Virtual Art Collector. What did you guys think of the Pryda Parx's Future Shock machinima series documentary?
Phil Rice 34:22
I think that the world needs more movie videos like this. The artist process videos. It is so valuable. And if you think about it a time before there was the internet. This is the hoarded knowledge that you had to know somebody who knew somebody to ever get exposed to. And so I just love it. When somebody who makes stuff shows how they make it. I think it's just delightful. I don't really have any specific comments on this film, other than it's a great example of that type of knowledge sharing, and I love it. I think it inspires people, it sends a message, you could do this, you could do this. You know, I think the same things happened in the food industry, if you will, with all the videos that are online about how to prepare this, how to cook this and whatnot. A lot of people that have time to do that in their lives, they're inspired by that it makes it accessible, it makes it feel like, wow, maybe I could could do this, too. This is exactly the same kind of thing. And it's wonderful. And I wish that more people did this for various engines.
Damien Valentine 35:43
Yeah, it's great. It was nice to see the behind the scenes of how she made the series. I haven't made me want to watch the series, which I haven't had a chance to. And I think that's one of the best that stood out to me on this film was there's a moment where she's got her Second Life character sitting at a computer, as if she's a Second Life character is making the series on the behind the scenes in the world. And that was a nice little touch there. They just smile.
Ricky Grove 36:12
That's good. Tracy.
Tracy Harwood 36:15
Yeah, I thought it was it was great. And I think this this is a series by Draxter Dupres, isn't it? And Drax does a great, you know, he has a whole series of stuff where he goes out and talks to people that have created stuff, whether it's sins or films or whatever. And he's, you know, he's he, he originally was commissioned by Second Life to do that. And he's continued to do it for years and years and years and years. And his stuff is, is really brilliant, really insightful. And this is just another example of the quality of the stuff that he does for for him. Second Life, basically,
Ricky Grove 36:56
yeah, we'll make sure we put a link into Drax's stuff, because you're right, he's done some really wonderful things about exploring art. Another example of that machinima in which you are going through this world and encountering people and then sharing your, your, their experience with other people. It's a real social aspect of Second Life, though, which I think is unique. Lastly, I quickly, I wanted to mention that there was a really interesting video that I caught, and it was a Half Life 2 level that had been moved to the Unreal Engine. And it was sort of a demo of walking through a specific engine. And I found that absolutely brilliant that the graphics taken from that original Half Life 2 game was just really marvellous. We'll put a link in the in the show notes. It's worth a look. I thought that was really cool. Damien. I want him to
Phil Rice 38:01
listen. And listen. Listen, the music is just delicious.
Ricky Grove 38:06
Yeah, that music is fantastic. Wonderful. Damian, let's go to your choice. What was your choice this month?
Damien Valentine 38:12
My choice? Well, he challenged me to try and find something Star Wars and I couldn't find anything styles I particularly liked. I came across this instead, which is in 2020, there was a comic book convention or sci fi convention held within Second Life. And I was very intrigued by this, because I thought I missed going to this, because it obviously happened in the past. And my initial thought was, some clever people because they thought, well, all the real life, Comic Cons have been cancelled. I love going to Comic Cons myself, I like going in costume and meeting my friends. And yeah, good time there. And obviously, that wasn't possible that year. And I thought, well, this is I could have gone to this, if I know it's happening and kind of had a virtual experience I was missing out, missing being able to go to. So this videos kind of shows off the environments they built for the convention to take place in all these different things for different aspects of science fiction like this as the Enterprise in one part, there's the London Bridge, which had recently been featured in the battle in the Spider Man film that came out shortly before this Doctor Who references and Style Wars, references, all kinds of stuff in there. And I think the idea is you could dress up the Avatar the way you want to, as if you were really dressing up in costume. And you could go and take screenshots of your character in these different places and meet new friends, the same kind of stuff, you do a real comic convention. So I started looking into sort of behind the scenes of how this event took place. And they'd actually it wasn't done because of COVID. They've been actually running it for many years before. And it's just that's what my initial reaction was that I was mistaken. I was great guys. see that and they've done one the year after. And of course, I missed that one because they just found the video. And then this morning, I checked, and they've actually announced the dates for this year's event, which I think I want to go in and check out. And because I mentioned the dates now, so in case anyone is curious, May the 18th to the 29th. They've only just announced that they haven't, I don't know what kind of content they're going to have I imagine it's gonna be very similar to this video. But I guess I have to go and have a look. So what did you guys think of the video itself?
Ricky Grove 40:31
I was a little frustrated with it because of a couple things. One is that the they use this sort of epic choral music, the kinda here and Game of Thrones and other things, which was mismatched, it didn't seem to match the science fiction theme. I ended up having to turn the music off to watch it. And I also had some trouble because it depicted a lot of people just walking around. And dancing at some point. I didn't get the feeling that it covered a lot of the actual events that that took place there. So it wasn't a very appealing film for me.
Phil Rice 41:16
I wondered if it had been filmed, either before the event or afterwards? Because yeah, it looks it did look like it wasn't done during - there just wasn't enough avatars present to prove to have been active and maybe, maybe the lag problem isn't solved. And that's why they didn't even attempt it.
Damien Valentine 41:40
I could be I go ahead. No, say I said that could be it. Yeah,
Phil Rice 41:45
yeah. So yeah, I wasn't I wasn't terribly jazzed by it until it got to the scene where the the kind of voluptuous woman with wings and a tail starts seductively twerking to the Mad Hatter sitting on a sofa that looks like it's made from the bucket seat of an old automobile. know, it's like, Alright, I'm engaged now. That's what goes on at this con, then. That's, that's awesome.
Ricky Grove 42:16
You're ready to roll?
Phil Rice 42:17
Yeah, I'm ready to roll. Yeah, a lap dance, to know more about that. How did that happen? Who is that guy? And why did he deserve that kind of Hello? Tracy?
Tracy Harwood 42:30
I thought it was oh, it was really intriguing, actually, because I you know, when I was reading up a little bit about it as well, Damien, it's, it's created by a lot. Lots of folks put parts of the sim into it. So so they all contribute the installations and the installations are all these sci fi cultural classic references that you kind of describe. And as I was watching it, I was thinking Oh, Back to the Future. There's a bit of Jurassic Park and a bit of Blade Runner, a bit of Mad Max Thunderdome, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Dune, Star Wars, it just went on and on. I mean, it's, it was a phenomenal collection of installations. And, you know, you just kind of wonder what, what would you do in each of those installations other than kind of walk walk through. So whilst I get where Ricky was coming from in terms of, you know, you didn't actually see what the experiences were. I think that was it, the experience was the fact that it was a detailed sim of a set in one of those kind of classic films. But the other sort of, I mean, so So this is where it kind of for me just wasn't a bit of a was a bit of a mismatch because it what it said it was it described it as a, as a con that covers sci fi in all its sub genres like horror, and steampunk and post apocalypse and cyberpunk and all of that superheroes and whatnot. But then it said, it aims to celebrate the possibilities of the future, which is where I got, mmm really, but but I think really what it's doing is just celebrating cultural references to mediatized iconic experiences. And then then the other sort of subtext to it is it's all done to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay as well. So there's a there's another reason for it to kind of take place but I guess the only thing that happens there is folks meet up in these sims just have a little walk around and then have a bit of a party. And and that is what the video is just, you know, a quick run through of what the sims were and how Aren't they amazing, and the party.
Ricky Grove 44:57
There weren't so you don't think there were any events? that in which there was an installation or that there was a person giving a talk about some aspect of science fiction, or a series of science fiction artworks or anything that was interactive in it, and it was just a party film with a bunch of models of sets?
Tracy Harwood 45:17
I suspect that's what it is.
Ricky Grove 45:19
Well, if that was the case, then it really well. Yeah.
Tracy Harwood 45:24
But but you know what, that to that point, really, if there isn't stuff like that in there, then there's a real opportunity because it is a really interesting, interesting place to go and have a look around the fact that you've got all these installations, and they change every year, according to description. I mean, but I read, it's been running for 13 years, this will be its 14th year, I think,
Ricky Grove 45:48
well, I compared it to my own experiences, going to science fiction conventions, and there was much more interaction in live conventions. And you made the point earlier earlier about how you were disappointed in the Portrait Gallery, because there was a lack of interaction, that it was just static images. And I kind of thought that that was the problem with this one.
Tracy Harwood 46:10
Yeah. Yeah. Don't disagree, Ricky. All right, done.
Ricky Grove 46:17
I don't know I got tired of watching that lady with the wings do a little g-string dance. And the
Phil Rice 46:26
Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Might as well I've been Oh, Fortuna.
Ricky Grove 46:32
Yeah, give me a break. Sheezus. Phil, you have got some fantastic films to share with us today. Tell us about them? Yeah,
Phil Rice 46:41
I'll lead off, we mentioned Lainy Voom earlier. She created what to me. Okay, so when you when you asked us Ricky hey, let's all pick. Second Life stuff I did survey. You know, more recently created stuff. Because this film that I ended up picking is from I think 2008 goes way back. To me, this is still the most impressive piece of animated video to come out a Second Life and maybe one of my most, to me, one of the most impressive pieces of machinima ever made. It's called Push. It's about a two minute film. Lainy Voom, who I've interacted with in Second Life back then, but know very little about her real world persona. I don't even know her real world name. I tried reaching out to her. About a week ago, when when I made the pick through her Vimeo account. She may not even have that email address anymore. Who knows but haven't heard from her. So she's a very, she's a mystery to me as a person, but then just this film is just extraordinary. The the amount of... First of all, I would venture a guess that if we were to put this film in front of, you know, a set of random people who had similar levels of knowledge that we do about the aesthetics of the different real time engines and games and all that and had them guess, what was this made with? I would venture a guess that the vast majority of people would get it wrong, because this doesn't look anything like anything. It doesn't look like Second Life. And yet it is fully like not enhanced one bit. Every bit of footage is exactly what she captured from there. She made this in a week, kind of on a dare to herself of what would happen if I did this. She gave her herself a $50 budget for custom content to buy maybe costumes or props or things like that within Second Life and gave herself one week start to finish and this was the result. And it's just astonishingly good. The the texturing of everything is so rich, there's not a solid colour anywhere. The animations are so odd and unusual and and even though I don't know if she could tell us exactly what this film is about or what its message was necessarily. There is a sense of theme that comes through and it doesn't have to be pinned down I think to to enjoy it. So yeah, I remain I think this is this is one of the you know not not to be all superlative about it but this is one of the greatest of all time for me. And I'm very glad that we we did this I don't know that I would have thought to revisit this film if we hadn't done the Second Life focus, and it's, it's amazing and inspiring and Lainy if you tune into this, you know, I'm doing the not worthy, amazing, amazing stuff. What did you guys think?
Damien Valentine 50:16
It's one of those films where you watch it, you have no idea how they made it in the platform that they chose. I also started watching. I remember when we got this for the Machinima Expos one of the I think we get a Jury Prize. I can't remember, I'm pretty
Phil Rice 50:31
sure we didn't win the Jury Prize that year. Yeah, that's good.
Damien Valentine 50:35
I remembered it from then. And so it was nice to see it again. But even looking at it again, now. I would struggle with how to make this in iClone, which obviously has a lot more power behind what you can do with the actual animation. So I have no idea how to most to pull this off in Second Life. But that's a testament to her skill level at using it
Phil Rice 50:57
holds up so well. Yeah, it really does.
Tracy Harwood 51:00
I was gonna say exactly the same Phil to me, it stood the test of time. And it was it was highly experimental when it when it came out. It was actually July 2009, I think 9 okay. I remember showing showcasing the piece at countless film and animation festivals that I was invited to speak at during the period between 2009-2012 was when I showed always when I showed and also included it in a paper I did on a Manifesto for Machinima, which was published in 2011. I think what makes it really so compelling is that, you know, the the music piece, this solo drum piece. Yes, yeah. Which kind of really, it kind of captures the increasingly demented nature of the of the, you know, of the aesthetic that it's very much it's portraying, kind of uses these surrealist visuals to illustrate, I've always associated with with time, but actually, I don't think it's about time. I think it's about death. And how fast time passes for us humans. And maybe how time appears to speed up as we get older, eh Phil? Yeah.
Phil Rice 52:24
Thanks. Thanks for that.
Tracy Harwood 52:27
Yeah, I mean, it was your pick.
Phil Rice 52:28
Once you're 50. Every film about time is about.
Ricky Grove 52:34
Yeah, I felt that the theme was death as well. But it wasn't apparent to me until this most recent viewing of the film, I didn't think that when it first came out. I can't. I can't agree with you more. I mean, it's just, you're so right, Phil about this, as is such a great choice. It's a brilliant film. And it's about itself. You know, I mean it. It's so unique. You can't compare it to anything else. One thing I would do wanted to point out is that Second Life has a kind of at time. Second Life has an uncanny quality in its look of the avatars. I remember once asking Hugh Hancock during the big period where Second Life was on everybody's tongue in machinima. I asked him well, what did he think of Second Life? And he said he just didn't, wasn't interested in and I asked him why he says, he didn't like to look at the characters. He said, they just seem fake to him. You know? And in some sense, I don't personally think that but I see what he's talking about. And I think in Push, Lainy uses that sort of Uncanny quality of the characters and their limited animation sets. Because there isn't a lot of subtle animation in Second Life, you know, and I think she used it in a way with that rat-a-tat, modern dance drum music in such a way as that she put them all together so that they all worked. You know, part of what made
Phil Rice 54:16
it a strength? Yeah, yes. She has a weakness. She leaned into it. Yeah, beautifully.
Ricky Grove 54:22
Yeah. And I think that in many ways, that's what artists do. They often take disparate elements, and put them together in a unique way, so that it creates a believable sort of fictional world or universe and that is such a tribute to her talent as a filmmaker. Great choice, Phil. Great choice.
Tracy Harwood 54:43
There is one one more thing I'll say about this. This is true. So its creator was a lady called Trace Sanderson, and she disappeared from the Machinima scene many many years ago. And I know several people that have tried to contact her over the years. But she's just never been heard of, since about 2012 ish, I think wow, so, so kind of long gone. We don't know what the backstory is. Nobody ever actually spoke to her in person either that the interesting thing.
Phil Rice 55:17
Ricky Grove 55:19
I remember walking through the exhibit that we made on the Machinima Expo because we had this wonderful exhibit in which you could go up to various stations and then play that particular film. And I remember walking through it with her to get to get notes and things like that. And she was, she was a very interesting person. But you're you're right, private, she didn't share any information about herself or any of that. Let's go to your second film, Soul Chambers by Chantal Harvey. Phil, tell us about it.
Phil Rice 55:52
Yeah, this is this is if there's, if there's someone in Second Life with what we could call the opposite of that personality it would be Chantal, she's not afraid to talk to anybody. Not that Trace was afraid. But I'm just saying her approach is more let's talk and, and she's kind of a leader figure in that community. I think I mean, she's highly respected, well known and has been at it for a long time. And I just happened to while I was in there, having just watched Lainy's Push. I just surfed a little bit around Vimeo, because it's been a while since I've been in there for other Second Life stuff. And this piece by that Chantal had recently posted or reposted, but it was made quite a few years ago. Just really caught my eye as something that really it's more Second Lifey, if you will, like you know, this is in Second Life, right? But just it's, it's just this it's just beautiful and abstract. And I don't normally go for abstract mainly because I'm hesitant to pick them because I don't know how to talk about them properly. And that's still the case with this. The film is called Soul Chambers. And yeah, it's it's, I guess, it's, it falls into the category of kind of a tour of a sim so to speak of showing off something that's been created there. Maybe Push like, you know, primed my buttons or something to where I was in the perfect mood for that. But I just really enjoyed it for what it was just as very, very colourful and lively and beautiful thing. Maybe you guys have some more, something more intelligent to say about it, that
Ricky Grove 57:53
all that stuff that you're doing fine.
Tracy Harwood 57:58
Let me say a few things on it. Thank you. No, not that I'm most terribly intelligent. Okay, so it's obviously it's an art installation. And it's actually by French artist, Ultraviolet was a French artist. And Chantal filmed it in 2011. And this installation was created for the Burn2 event. And Chantal had gone into this installation, and was so kind of wowed by it. She filmed it. And what she's because because I asked her about this one. And what she sort of said about it is it hit her to be so what she imagined life after death to be. She couldn't really explain it. So she filmed it, she contacted Ultraviolet and sent her the footage that she created. And Chantal so she was incredibly moved by the by the piece when she was in it. Anyway, what then happened was Ultraviolet composed a piece of music to the film that she'd made and, and sent the text or what have you. And so really what this is, isn't actually it's an experience, and also a collaboration between Ultraviolet and Chantal that extend this, I suppose really what you'd call it as a kind of a serendipitous creative experience between the two of them. So which is an ordinary, it's really beautiful. It's a really lovely piece. I can actually see what she was saying. And I get what she was saying about it being sort of life after death. Kind of really agree with Chantal on it, because that's how it came over when I was sort of looking at this piece even though what you're experiencing isn't experiencing is the film and not the actual installation. So the installation is long gone. And I think it's one of those things, you know, but back to the point that we were talking about, really, at the beginning of today's show is, this is an example I think of Second Life being this kind of vicarious enactment of some aspect of life, that that can't be lived any longer in real life for whatever reason. And over the years, I think I have seen numerous machinimas play with this, this idea of something, you know, passing over if you're like, into Second Life. And I think that's what comes through in this one. For whatever reason, and I was kind of thinking, you know, what's intriguing about this is, so, you know, Second Life has often been aligned to the metaverse concept has it not? Stephenson's Snow Crash, Metaverse concept. And what's kind of interesting here is this installation. And this film and experience was filmed years before the book that he's just most recently published, which is called Fall, which is all about uploading your life to the net. And that's what this is about. This is about, you know, passing over into this sort of virtual space. That's what the kind of installation is, seems to be about to me. And I guess you have to kind of think, Where Where would Stephenson get the inspiration for some of the ideas that he comes from come up with, and I'm wondering if this is might be some of the ideas behind it, because let's face it, none of the organisations that are kind of playing around with this idea of uploading your your brain post death to the net are actually ever going to get spite behind.
Ricky Grove 1:02:24
Interesting, you know, I, not to be morbid, but I last year, one of the things I did is I, I bought a cremation service for myself, for after I die, so that the process of taking care of my body and all of that will be taken care of, and we'll be away from the responsibility of my friends. And my partner. I also set up a whole series of a will and all of that stuff. And it occurred to me that while you were talking that perhaps I should buy some sort of space in Second Life, where I can be an avatar that appears long after I'm dead, to say, Hey, you guys, I was Ricky Grove. And I did this and I did that. It'd be kind of fun. Thank thank you for suggesting that.
Tracy Harwood 1:03:17
I'm sure we look forward to that one.
Ricky Grove 1:03:19
Yes. About the film, I one of the things I loved a lot was the poem as narration. That's a wonderful idea. Go ahead, Damien
Damien Valentine 1:03:31
Hopefully, that's not for a long time, Ricky.
Ricky Grove 1:03:33
Damien Valentine 1:03:35
as my thoughts in the film was, I'm really glad Tracy, you explained all that because I watched it and I didn't really get it starting to look at I didn't quite grasp, it was the life after death kind of concept. So now you explained that I get it more. I understand it more now. So the visuals now make more sense to me with the permit and everything. So thank you for that.
Ricky Grove 1:03:57
A lot of times abstract works I studied, I still do my attracted abstract works. And I studied a lot of the post world war two abstract film movement, club movement, films by my Darren and Stan Brakhage, and others. And one of the things about them is that they're not meant to be consumable, in the same way as mainstream films are in which you, you consume it and you understand it immediately with one viewing. They're meant to be gone back to and repeatedly viewed, because they're often they deal with something called ambiguity, where you can define and explain certain aspects of the film in a variety of ways. Whereas there's no ambiguity and say, you know, the TV series Law and Order exactly what you see on the screen is what it is. But much of abstract film is representational, meaning they show symbols of things and that imply other things, and that's one of the things I liked about it is that it was an abstract film like this really rewards multiple viewings is what I'm trying to say.
Phil Rice 1:05:12
You know, there was a kind of a philosophical trend that I want to say emerged in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Post Nietzsche. I think Wittgenstein wrote a lot on this. But basically, the idea was, when a reader is presented a text, that that's an interactive experience that actually it's not complete until the reader ends up bringing something to it. Yeah, changes, it gets a little, you know, fluffy there in terms of how abstract that is, but it changed the way that I think about reading. Ever since that, I studied that. And I think I think that the same is very much true for music and for visuals, for things like this. And for abstract works in particular, they leave that space there for that dance, if you will to happen. And I mean, even I who am not studied in it, I get that, like, I feel it. And yeah, it can be it can be really special and sometimes confusing. You know, if, if, if your brain doesn't at all know what to do, then it's it's very weird and very unique experience.
Ricky Grove 1:06:31
And Second Life encourages this sort of yes, type of work, unlike any other game engine or real time engine that is out there. I agree. Tracy, let's go to your interesting choices. What do you have for us today?
Tracy Harwood 1:06:47
Well, I've got a couple and an honourable mention if you'll allow me. Okay. The first one is an historical piece. It's actually a history of Second Life by a lady Bollycoco. What a great name, great name. Absolutely, released in February 2021. And it's really just a potted history documentary by a French resident in Second Life, who's really only been resident for a few years, four years from what I can gather. And the film itself is just a run through review of some of the the Second Life history notables from its earliest days. So key events, major developments, and that sort of thing in terms of the environment itself. What she's done, she's done quite a lot of work in the background. Obviously, she's visited these historical places, she reports on in her search for 17 years of existence of Second Life. So she's reviewed the residue of that. She's reviewed areas such as all these historical areas, hundreds of note cards, parently, from Oz Linden, the Second Life wiki, the Second Life Community page, the Fandom Second Life page, and various blogs, including superfan Wagner James Au, who we've talked about in the past. And needless to say, she's reporting, she's reporting on something of the history. Which, you know, frankly, is all about how creators have developed the world. But the challenge I think she's faced is that it's never going to cut the mustard for all the fans of Second Life. So I think she's been given a bit of a rough deal in the comments, basically, which are along the lines of, hey, you miss this or you miss that. And, you know, I think she's done a pretty good job in terms of documenting or, you know, putting a bit of a marker down for key stuff that's happened. And I think if you want to understand how Second Life has evolved as a kind of, if you want to call it a Metaverse and call it a Metaverse, she's kind of put a bit of a marker on on on the key steps that have taken place to get it to the point that it is at now. So it's it's a backstory, more than anything. It's a it's a bit of a documentary. It's by no means a complete history, but it's not a bad effort, I think.
Ricky Grove 1:09:30
Yeah, I learned a lot about Second Life that I didn't know in it. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed her presentation. Obviously she did a lot of work and trying to put together all sorts of disparate information and that's not an easy job. I would caution those critics who say you've missed this, you missed that to take on this job themselves, to see what they would come up with because I assure you that they would post the video and many other people would say well you missed this you missed that, you know My only problem with the video is that I wish she would have spent a little more time on the presentation of it. I think our focus was so much on trying to get the information and get images that that's what she excelled in. But sometimes the repeated gestures and the, the bad lip sync at times, the lack of attention to detail on that area, distracted me a bit, but I would just look away from the screen and listen to what she had to say. And it wasn't a problem. But I enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was really good. And if you want to know about Second Life, you couldn't do better than this particular documentary.
Phil Rice 1:10:42
I enjoyed it as well. I think that anybody who would, you know, criticise her approach to history doesn't, I would argue they don't understand what the work of history actually is. Because it is always making decisions about what's important enough to write about and what's not. Yes, that goes back to you know, I mean, that's, that's always been history, you know, the kind of tongue in cheek phrase that people use it at the winners or who write history? Well, I mean, that's a kind of jaded way of looking at it. But the truth is, that's always the job of this select, document everything. Yeah, yeah. So I would say though, you know, if, if I had created something historical and historical and someone said, you left some stuff out, I would take it as a compliment. Because that's the job. The job is not to document everything, it's to make a selection. And the person doing the job always influences that. So Ricky's right every single iteration that someone would create a Second Life history is going to choose this and not that and vice versa. So I don't see that as a weakness of it at all. I found it very informative to there's a lot in it that I didn't know about prior to this. The lip sync bothered me a little bit too, which is ironic, I realised coming from someone who cut their teeth in machinima in Quake was either no lip sync, or was some kind of go from four phonemes. So, but I've, as I've, I've kind of come to more of a philosophy on that of, you know, maybe de emphasise or maybe don't lean so much on that. If the engine doesn't do a good job, because that's the thing. It's, it's not a flaw of her filmmaking that the lip sync was bad. That's not a strength of Second Life. Never has been, likely it never will be who knows. But, but sometimes you have to make that decision, she wants to present there, I had to do something very similar with my recently released Obit, the lip sync is not perfect. But you know, because of a limitation of the tool I was using. But the way to mitigate that is just maybe not linger on it or rely on it quite so much. But with a style of video like this again, with there's there's an MC and she's the one who's presenting it right, that's tough. You can't have no lip sync, you don't want them to be talking while she's moving her head and not moving her lips at all. So that was a tough, tough choice to have to make to figure out how to do that. But anyway, in terms of content, the the, you know, the underlying historical content of it, I found it very valuable and very enjoyable.
Damien Valentine 1:13:47
And I agree with people who have made well, you could say about the comments, the very unforgiving because if you're gonna make a documentary that covers 17 years of history, you're gonna have a 17 year long video. Yes. Exactly. I'm very thankful that we did not get a 17 hour video to look at 17 year long videos. We talked with
Ricky Grove 1:14:13
the download time, Oh, God.
Damien Valentine 1:14:17
I think documentaries like this for online platforms. It's a very good idea. Because I learned a lot from it. And obviously, you guys saw that a lot from it. And some of this early history could easily be forgotten. Yes, someone could join Second Life. I have no idea how it came about. And as youtuber every online platform from World of Warcraft to Ultima Online, I'm just trying to think of other places. And I think a documentary like this shows you how it came about and some of the important things that happens to get it from where it started to where it is now, because it doesn't just launch and then that's it. They evolve over time. Every single online platform has this evolution. It's not just a static platform where nothing ever changes. And so being able to go back and see, well, what was it like in those early days? And why did they change it? I think that's important and make sure that something like this means that this video, hopefully will still exist after Second Life dies. So if Second Life disappears, this is a documentary. So this is how it started. And you can look back and, you know, learn about this platform. Right? That was, I feel
Phil Rice 1:15:30
the same way. I feel the same way about some of the books that were written about machinima in the, in the earlier years, the one that Paul Marino was involved with Matt Kelland. Yeah, you pick those up now and try and use them as a manual for how to make machinima. Even the Machinima for Dummies one that Hugh and Johnny worked on. It's not very useful in terms of in terms of preserving some history with that. Yeah, that's great. I'm so glad that those were were published. And, and for the most part, some most of them are still available today. Yeah.
Ricky Grove 1:16:12
Yeah, you've got one last choice there. What was it?
Tracy Harwood 1:16:14
Well, it's Digital Rain. And I don't know if you guys have had a chance to have a look at this as a bit of a late pick. So it's called Digital ring 2021. And when I put the link to is a trailer for it, and it's it was released on the 13th of January, this year. By Well, I think it's created by a collective I'm not really kind of sure what they call themselves production house but the guy that posts on behalf of is called Mac'n Tease Tomota . Now it the trailer is for an eight episode series and they're really up to about episode six from what I can gather at the moment. Now quite interestingly, the episodes are not on YouTube, they're on something called Streamable which is actually a video editing platform. I don't know if you guys have used it come across it or whatever. No, you haven't. Okay, no, I'm surprised at that. Because it looks like it's got some kind of interesting streaming options, but I think it lacks the the discoverability that we expect on YouTube. Hence why I think these guys have put an awful lot of emphasis on marketing and developing this as it's what John Gaeta called a company - the business around the film if you like. They put a huge amount of effort into doing that. But about the film it's it's a Blade Runner-esque style machinima you know, tonnes of cyberpunk cyberpunk style references in terms of the characters and the the scenery and the and the story tropes. I find it interesting because not only is it a machinima series, but they've also developed a comic book and photography alongside it. Actually, this is the the group's first machinima project, which I think it's interesting. They've built sets for the first three episodes themselves. And they were basically a group of friends collaborating on this to create originally something Matrix-like but they switched their style as they began creating the first episode. So it to me they've not really gone off a lot of plot, I think that kind of comes through a little bit as well. Now there's a pilot episode on there, which is actually a standalone piece. And what they've said is that that generated such good feedback from their community of followers that they went on to make this sort of larger series and in fact, from episode four, they've been on other creators sims to create content because apparently, there are a number of cyberpunk sims are in Second Life quite a few of them. Now have to say the plot is quite well trodden, but they've put this huge amount of effort into creating all the promotional paraphernalia that they feel kind of goes with the film but I think really whilst I do think they've got lots of potential to tell some really interesting, original stories through their creative process, but I think at the moment it just feels to me a bit top heavy on the marketing side. And thin on the content side, which is not to say it's not fun to watch because it is but I think I would definitely suggest to these guys. Put a bit more effort into the storyline. And, you know, try and work on original story content that I think this, this world that they've created is kind of capable of so you've got kind of mixed messages coming through, I think. But what did you guys think?
Damien Valentine 1:20:20
I watched the trailer and I watched the first episode, and I didn't realise they'd built everything themselves for it, I thought it was something that they found but I was impressed by the amount of detail that was in the sim. So now they made it specifically for their videos, shows a huge amount of work for it, because it's not just, it's very easy to make some boxes and put some taxes on to make them look futuristic. But they have so much detail on the environment. So they also put a lot of work into it. There's some issues with the camera work that kind of bothered me where it passed through the walls and things like that. I don't know if that improves later on. I'm not I was intrigued enough, by what I sort of want to watch more, I just haven't had time to do that yet. So I'm interested to see where it goes. Because it's not the kind of story you'd expect to be told within Second Life. Exactly. It expect to be in a game or I keep saying iClone, or something along those lines, not Second Life. So I'm intrigued to know why they chose Second Life rather than platform that is better suited for a story like this. But on the other hand, I also appreciate that they're going to the amount of trouble to do all this in a platform was not designed for it. Because that's makes it a great challenge. The fact that they're going for it is to be admired. Yeah. Ricky,
Ricky Grove 1:21:51
I'm sorry, I didn't get a chance to watch it. So I can't comment on it. But I do know that i There are some really interesting series in in Second Life. And I'm glad to see that people are still working in that that format, because I think Second Life would be is a really good way to make series drama, or series comedy. I think it's a really good format for that.
Phil Rice 1:22:18
Though, yeah, I watched the trailer. It it didn't have the same effect on me that it did on Damien, like, which what a trailer should do I think of wanting to pull you in. And I think I want to watch more of this. I don't know exactly why that is I've been reflecting on that. I think I might just be personally a little bit oversaturated with the cyberpunk aesthetic. I feel like I've eaten enough so and so that's not a criticism of their work at all. It's just me personally, and just not not drawn to that. I you know, I do see some some signs that there's not the same level of polish that you'd see on... Damien's a great example of you know, that he's been at it for so many years, you know, that he's learned the art of cutting around the weaknesses and things like that every single platform has, including iClone, you know, there's some transitions in there that just aren't perfect. We just don't dwell on them. You know, look away. Don't make the viewer look away. Yeah, you look away camera, you know, so. And there's, that just comes with experience. So I would, I would venture a guess that that will get better as they go if they listen to if people give them honest criticism, and if they listen to that. So I love the trailer though, simply because this is such a silly thing to fixate on. But there's this really eerie and haunting cover of very iconic song from The Doors called The End. And it just it fit the mood of their trailer perfectly. It takes takes a lot of cohonies to even try and cover the doors. Yeah, but that but this fit you know it? I don't know. It reminded me of one of the songs that that Hugh had picked for the blood spell soundtrack. Has that that kind of vocal aesthetic. Anyway, that was neat. So yeah, that's all I see on it.
Tracy Harwood 1:24:40
That's me down. I've got an honorary honourable mention that I'll save it for the blog actually.
Ricky Grove 1:24:46
Okay. So that's our show today. I did want to mention that Second Life is free. You can go to SecondLife.com and download it. If you don't know anything about it or how to get involved it, there's a introductory place that takes you to it so you can learn about the mechanics of it. Second Life has a huge community of people that can help you. There's a if you want to make machinima there's a wonderful Monday night programme called Machinima Mondays with Chantal Harvey, you can join that up, it'll it'll give you baby steps into making a film. But, you know, given the comments in the film choices we had, once you get have once you get the basics down of filming, go out and explore, find something interesting. Make something that's fun, that's different. Because as you can see, Second Life gives you the opportunity to experience so many unique things. And if you find something that you want to make a film of, then ask permission to do it of whatever sim you're on and then take off. I'd like to make a quick announcement that we're now doing premieres of our episodes of the Completely Machinima podcast on YouTube. A new episode comes out every Thursday, and we live the premiere that episode on at 12pm Pacific time that day. They'll at least be a couple of us there answering questions and chatting about the episode. So come and join us for the premiere will have our podcast at Completelymachinima.com and also this episode on YouTube. I'd also like to announce that next month April we're going to be looking at machinima created in Reallusion's iClone. That should be very exciting. I thank you very much Tracy, Phil, Damian for another great film episode. I always enjoy these. And we'll see you next week. Thanks guys. Bye