Burning it up in the desert

This weekend marks the start of BURN2, the Second Life sister celebration to Burning Man.

Running from October 20th through 28th, BURN2 this year is spread across six regions, again in the familiar desert theme, surrounded by sandy hills that add to the atmosphere of the event. I had the opportunity to preview the regions earlier today, and take a look at what visitors can expect.

The theme for this year’s event is “Fertility”, which echoes the theme of the Burning Man festival in Black Rock City. It explores fertility within the lens of Second Life and is strongly reflected in the works of the invited artists as well as in other installations across the regions.

BURN2 2012

Invited Artists

BURN2 2012 includes the work of five artists as this year’s Invited Artists. They are: Silene Christen, Pallina60 Loon, Fuchsia Nightfire, Nexuno Thespian and  Ub Yifu. I decided to start may wanderings by locating their pieces.

Silene Christen

Silene Christen presents an interactive installation in collaboration with Martazul Zemlja and Emilio Charisma. It is described as, “An alien ship travels the universe collecting specimens of living species. When they saw the strange structures from BURN2, decided to stay and watch”.

Inside the space ship – Silene Christen

Visit Silene Christen at BURN2.

Pallina60 Loon

Pallina60 Loon is well-known for her interactive art pieces, and at BURN” 2012, she presents, “Whoops – a baby!”, which she describes as portraying, “A mother nature that emerges from the arid playa to the BURN2 to play.” In keeping with her work, it is interactive – so dive in!

Whoops … a baby – Pallina60 Loon

Visit Whoops … a baby at BURN2.

Fuchsia Nightfire

Fuchsia Nightfire provides a lush haven of greenery in the midst of the desert as she celebrates the heritage of the Green Man, often associated with fertility, renewal and rebirth, and which has a strong resonance through her native England. Her piece provides a welcome retreat and resting place for people as they travel across the regions, allowing them to be renewed.

Inside The Green Man, BURN2 2012

Visit The Green Man at BURN2.

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“Lights, cameras, action!”

Update, April 12th: The Machinima Open Studio Project has moved to a new, permanent location at LEA7 and has been extensively updated, which I’ve also reviewed.

If you ever dreamed of being a movie mogul, the time is now. The Machinima Open Studio Project (MOSP) at LEA20 offers a wide variety of locales and sets built with filming in mind.  Nine structures dot the countryside with more to come. Peaceful Valley sits in the shadow of tall mountains, should you keep the region Windlight setting, while the cottages and outdoor locations along Beach Walk are definitely a sun lover’s paradise.

So reads the promotional material for the Machinima Open Studio Project (MOSP), which formally opened on October 1st. A part of the Full Sim Art series operated by the Linden Endowment for the Arts, MOSP is curated by Artist-in-Residence Chic Aeon, and is located on and above LEA 20, where it provides a wide range of facilities and options for machinima makers and photographers alike. The facility will be open through until the end of February 2013.

Part of the MOSP Welcome Area

Visitors to the facility are advised to start at the Welcome Area. This is a simple, open-air platform with a series of information boards which provide quick and clean access to essential information about MOSP and its facilities. One of these also supplies you with a teleport HUD, and I strongly recommend you grab a copy and use it in order to see everything on offer – there is a lot to see.

Around the Welcome Area are a number of the pre-built sets. There are simple, open affairs which offer scope for the machinima maker and photographer alike, either using the established windlight presets or custom set-ups. All of the ground-level sets use the same landscaping and design, allowing several or all of them to be used in productions / photo shoots.

One of the ground-level outdoor sets

Above ground is a further range of individual themed sets – subway, New Orleans, ruins, gypsy camp, park and Shadowlands – each with its own possibilities for filming and photo-shoots, either on its own or, again, in unison with some of the other sets.

“I knew the only reason Calhogie picked the time and place was not only because he didn’t want to have anyone see him taking possession of the case, but because he wanted somewhere quiet to tie-up loose ends. So I let Mr. Redemption hitch a ride on my thigh as insurance…” – on one of the MOSP sets

There are also four sound stages available for interior shooting. The layouts are very studio like, with each containing a number of related sets, allowing scenes to be quickly and easily filmed, ready for assembly into a completed show or film.

One of the soundstages with pre-built sets

Finally, there is the Corporate Office, space that lends itself to a huge range of uses – chat show studio, teaching environment, news studio, meeting place, all presented in a professional and well laid-out environment in the heart of a “city” sky scene.

The Corporate Office space

Everything at MOSP has been put together with care and attention; the soundstages and specialised sets, together with the Corporate Office are well above ground level to get the maximum advantage from increased frame rates. One the ground, the sets are spread well apart, allowing for plenty of camera movement. Further, Chic has brought together some excellent supporting material,  including notes on getting started in machinima making, a dedicated website for the project, a Flickr group for those using MOSP for photography and promotional boards for films made in whole or in part in the region.

Standing in the sun-dried grass and looking at the stones, only one thing ran through my mind was, “We’re not in Kansas any more…” – on the “ruins” set at MOSP.

The soundstages and themed sets, together with the Corporate Office are well above ground level to get the maximum advantage from increased frame rates. One the ground, the sets are well space to allow for plenty of camera movement. Given the close proximity of the LEA regions, it is advisable to keep draw distance down. This not only (again) helps improve frame rates when filming – to also means there is less risk of accidentally capturing a pice of the neighbouring region when filming / shooting. There a lots of clear extras on the ground sets as well, which can be used to great effect with the right ambient windlight / lighting – I particularly love the train track, which can be made to look as if it is disappearing into the distance.

If you’re into machinima, want to make a start or need a number of pre-made locations for a photo shoot, MOSP is definitely worth a good look. And if you’re curious, there’s also the Explorer Hunt, with up to 50 gifts for the keen-eyed!

“Calhogie was gone and I knew the Feds would be coming after me. Rikhard’s had done a bang-up job ensuring that. But I had the case, and I figured what was inside could keep me pretty comfortable even on the run. For now, it was just a long walk back done the track, but I still had Mr. Redemption on my thigh, ready to keep me company on the way….” – making use of the rail track section at MOSP

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Video courtesy of Chic Aeon