A radiant wintertime in Second Life

Dawn of Radiance
Dawn of Radiance

I’ve had Dawn of Radiance on my list of places to visit for a while, but have only just managed to move it up the list and hop over to take a look. A Homestead region, held and landscaped by Silvermoon Fairey, it’s a place which changes looks to suit the season, and right now is in the grip of winter, presenting a gorgeous world of show-covered hills and valleys, rustic scenes and much to see and discover, be it the Romany encampment, the cottages with their steeply-pitched roofs laden in snow, the frosted sands of the beach or the rugged coastline, to name but a few of the picturesque spots to be found here.

As you arrive in the centre of the region, everywhere is within easy reach – but do remember that there is a lot of “everywhere” to be seen and enjoyed. A lot of care has been put into Dawn of Radiance to create a series of individual settings ripe for appreciation and photos, all interlinked with footpaths, avenues of trees, tracks and wooden board walks.

Daen of Radiance
Dawn of Radiance

This is once again a very photogenic region, as many before me have already discovered, and it is worth taking time to look around as you wander, as there are some very subtle touches which help to bring it to life. It’s a place which looks good with the windlight preset, and which can also come to life under and range of viewer-side windlight settings – I personally found that those offering an early morning or an evening look and feel worked really well, but as these are my favourite times of the day in winter, I am a tad bit biased.

Being wintertime, the beach is looking a little forlorn. The shutters on the beach shop might be open, but a sign outsides tells visitors it’s closed (presumably for the season), and the coastal snow is piling up on the sands. Up on the hills overlooking the beach is a frozen pond – keep an eye out for the skates dispenser if you fancy going for a spin on the ice.

Dawn of Radiance
Dawn of Radiance

One of the clever aspects of Silvermoon’s design is in her use of hills to break up the region, allowing her to create the individual scenes found across the landscape. This enables each scene to be individually present to the visitor and to the photographer when walking through the region.

In many respects, I’m sad I didn’t visit Dawn of Radiance sooner, I would have loved to see it dressed for autumn and Halloween; the photos I have seen from the pre-snow period have been stunning. As it is, I’ll be sure to be coming back again and again to see how Silvermoon dresses the region through the year.

Dawn of Radiance
Dawn of Radiance

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Drax Files Radio Hour launches in January

radio-hourJanuary 2014 will see the launch of The Drax Files Radio Hour, a new weekly radio / podcast to be hosted by Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley.

Tooting my horn a little, I’ve actually known about the series for a while. It’s pretty fair to say that the seed of the idea was likely planted during one of the many back-and-forth discussions Drax and I had and have about each segment of The Drax Files (he prodded me a number of times to do a podcast with him. While I passed at the time, I may still contribute to the show if there is interest from Drax and Jo in having me do so).

Balanced discussion of Second Life tends to be in short supply nowadays. While Metareality has returned, I have to say that I’d personally found that show to be increasingly biased (and at times under-informed) prior to if going off-air over summer, which is a pity. Hopefully, The Drax Files Radio Hour will be able to shine a light on the good, the bad, the strange and the wonderful within Second Life and virtual worlds as a whole and provide good, informed discussion across all.

The show is set to be broadcast “without permission somewhere from an attic in 1920s Berlin”, and will feature discussions, guests, visits to regions in-world, looks at emerging technology, and so on. I’m laying odds that two hot topics on the tech side which will be featuring are the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion, particularly given both Jo and Drax have an interest in each, and both are set to be coming to Second Life in 2014 :).

If you want to stay abreast of plans, there is a Facebook page for the show, but no website (as yet – I might prod Drax on that as well on behalf of all of us Facebook avoiders :)).

The first broadcast for the show is currently scheduled for Thursday, January 10th, 2014. I’ll be following things here, and will hopefully be able to help people keep up-to-date on things as the show develops and we move closer to the premiere. In the meantime, make a note in your diary!

Londo Mollari joins the cast of The Blackened Mirror

Blackened MirrorUpdate, December 1st: Oopsie on my part. I mis-read information on the show, and Juliet Ceasrio will not be re-joining the cast. Peter Jurasik will, however be joined by Gameela Wright, and I’ve updated the article to reflect this. My apologies to Gameela and the cast and crew!

Sunday December 1st sees the re-opening of Harland Quinn’s toughest case to date, the mystery of The Blackened Mirror.

Those who watched season one of the show will know that things all began when the mysterious Ms Alais Alleyn (Aisling Sinclair) and her faithful companion, Mr. Biggins (Mavromichali Szondi) stepped into Quinn’s office seeking his assistance to “find their way home” – home being something entirely unrelated to what you or I might consider it to be. By the end of the season, Quinn, Ms. Alleyn and Mr. Biggins were trapped in a bar surrounded by murderous zombies when in walks none other than Quinn’s own bespectacled doppelgänger, complete with a sinister greeting.

Season two picks-up the story precisely where season one left-off and promises more twists and rides. As I’ve hinted at in previous posts, the show also features a special guest star: none other than Mr. Peter Jurasik.

Peter-Jurasik
Peter Jurasik

While perhaps best-known for his role as the tragic Centauri Ambasssdor (and later Emperor) Londo Mollari in Babylon 5, Mr. Jurasik has had a long and distinguished career on stage and in film and television, including several recurring roles on popular television series over the decades, such as that of Sid “the Snitch” Thurston in Hills Street Blues and its spin-off series, Beverly Hills Buntz.

Interestingly, he also appeared alongside future Babylon 5 co-star Bruce Boxleitner in both Boxleitner’s own TV series The Scarecrow and Mrs. King and in the feature film Tron.

He is also no stranger to Harland Quinn’s world. In 2012 he guest-starred as “George” in the radio show featuring Quinn, Death in Velvet.

Gameela QuinnAlso accompanying Peter Jurasik in joining the cast is Gameela Wright. Based in New York, Ms. Wright has over 15 years experience in theatre, television, voice overs, film and commercials. She has appeared in such top-rated US shows such as Blue Bloods, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Orange is the New Black.

As in AvaJean Westland in Second Life, Ms. Wright has worked with the Avatar Repertory Company, and also developed projects as Virtual Girl Productions in Association with Running Lady Studios. In 2013, she took over hosting duties for the Second Life leg of the 2013 Relay for Life. As well as appearing as the character of Martha Pearse later in the season, Gameela Wright played an invaluable role in the show’s production, puppeteering a number of the characters on behalf of those actors unable to be in Second Life for the actual filming, creating a physicality to the characters to match the voice performances.

Both Mr. Jurasik and Ms. Wright will be joining season one regulars Scott Simpson (Zander Greene in SL) as the enigmatic Harland Quinn, Aisling Sinclair  as the mysterious Alais Alleyn, and  Mavromichali Szondi as the light-on-words Mr Biggins, as well as a host of guest stars.

Scott-Simpson
Scott Simpson

Star of stage, screen and television, Scott Simpson has appeared alongside the likes of James Earl Jones, Teri Hatcher, Katie Holmes, Charles Shaughnessy, Charlotte Ross and Ellen Burstyn, to name but a few. He’s been directed by Michael Apted, and has played the lead in Richard III for NYC’s Looking Glass Theatre, as well as “Vanek” in Audience as part of New York’s 2006 Vaclav Havel Festival. He is also an accomplished voice-over artist.

In Second Life, through his alter-ego, he is an educational and non-profit environment developer for organisations including the American Cancer Society and Valdosta State University and the original moving force behind Fantasy Faire. Not only does he play the hero of the piece in The Blackened Mirror, he also creates the music for the series.

The talent involved in The Blackened Mirror isn’t restricted to in front of the camera, either. David (or Da5id, if you prefer – all the v-spellings had gone when he signed-up, so he improvised), is a writer who has published both fiction and non-fiction and worked in radio. The Blackened Mirror stands as a perfect example of the subject for his next book, You CanNot Do It: The Power of Procrastination, which he would have been writing but for the fact he put it off to write the The Blackened Mirror.  The show is directed and produced by Saffia Widdershins, co-host and executive producer of the show Designing Worlds and CEO of Prim Perfect Publications.

It was Saffia who coaxed Aisling Sinclair, who among many other talents directs the Designing Worlds show, out from behind the camera to star in The Blackened Mirror. Saffia also helped introduce us to the character of Mr. Biggins (now voiced by builder-creator Mavromichali Szondi as noted above) through the New Babbage comic series produced by Prim Perfect.

Alais Alleyn reveals the secret of a blackened mirror to Harland Quinn
Alais Alleyn reveals the secret of a blackened mirror to Harland Quinn

Other talent involved in the show includes Honour McMillan, Petlove Petshop and Emmo Wei, and you can read more about all of the season one cast and crew on the show’s website.

The first instalment of season two of The Blackened Mirror airs at 14:00 SLT on Sunday December 1st, 2013, and you can catch it on Treet TV.

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