Paradise Lost: casting call; only 5 weeks left for Romeo + Juliet

Paradise LostI’ve been covering preparations for the upcoming production of Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin, which will be staged by the Basilique Performing Arts Company starting in spring 2014.

A re-telling of the original sin based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, choreographed and set to the fourteen movements of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor, the production is both ambitious and one of the most highly anticipated theatre events of Second Life, following on the heels of the Company’s lauded and acclaimed Romeo + Juliet.

And now YOU have the opportunity to be a part of the show.

Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks, the creative pair behind the production have issued a casting call. On offer are six parts within the production, two of which are to be played by the same actor. The six are:

  • Beelzebub Satan’s right hand man, counsel-at-war, mastermind of the infiltration into Eden and more, and who appears in three scenes of the performance. The person behind this avatar will also be asked to play Moses  – part of a dream sequence, Moses does what Moses does best, much to the annoyance of Pharaohs
  • Moloch – Satan’s War Captain and all-round war monger. Also seen in three scenes. The person behind this avatar will also be asked to play Noah – he of the flood and very large floating menagerie fame. Also seen in a dream sequence
  • Belial – another of Satan’s Fallen, a cunning beguiler working against those who would have war and manipulating things for her / his own advantage; appears in three scenes
  • Mammon – a Prince of Hell eager to see it industrialised and its resources exploited (no doubt lining her / his own pockets with gold and precious gems along the way). Again appears in three scenes.

Adam and Eve by Caitlin Tobias, January 2014
Adam and Eve by Caitlin Tobias on Flickr – click to enlarge

Requirements in Brief

  • No prior experience of acting is required, nor are there any special technical requirements or skills requested. Applicants will not be expected to use voice
  • Preferred applicants are those with reliable Internet connections who are prepared to commit to 2 hours a week at weekends (13:00 Saturdays or 12:00 noon Sundays) for a 12-week season (March through June 2014)
  • Fully costumed and kitted avatars will be supplied to the successful applicants for the duration of the production.

Successful applicants will also receive 50% of all tips donated to them during performances, the remaining 50% going towards funding the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s adoption of Ihoho, an infant mountain gorilla living in Rwanda. you can read more about why the Company has decided to adopt a baby mountain gorilla on Canary’s blog.

For full details on the roles and the requirements, please refer to Canary’s blog post.

How to Apply

Supply a note card in-world to either Canary Beck or Harvey Crabsticks (crabsticks Resident), giving your name and any information you feel relevant by no later than Friday January 31st, 2014.

Romeo + Juliet in Second Life

Sunday January 19th marks the 31st performance of the Basilique Performing Arts Company’s Romeo + Juliet in Second Life. This means that, including the Sunday presentation, there are only five performances of this acclaimed production left in the winter season. These are (all times SLT):

  • Sunday, January 19th, 12:00 noon
  • Saturday, January 25th, 13:00
  • Saturday, February 1st, 13:00
  • Saturday, February 8th, 13:00
  • Friday, February 14th, 13:00

All performances are at The Basilique Playhouse, and the show comes very highly recommended – it really should not be missed.  See also my notes on the production’s winter season and on attending a performance.

Related Links

2014 SL Home and Garden Expo rescheduled


A blog post from Kat Alderson on the Second Life Home and Garden Expo website brings word that this year’s event, the 7th to be held in Second life, has been rescheduled.

Originally set to take place on May 13th through 27th inclusive, the event will now take place in September, with the Press Days set for the 14th and 15th September, and opening its doors to the public at large on September 16th through 28th inclusive.

The change has come about due to a mix of unforeseeable circumstances, misunderstandings in what is proving to be a packed events season, as Kat explains in the post:

In October 2013, we announced that the 2014 Home Expo would take place  May 13-27.  Since then, other events announced their schedules, and the spring and summer are packed with high volume events which support Relay For Life of Second Life, as well as other non-profit organizations, charitable institutions, and private interests.

The Home and Garden Expo is the SL event where users can see homes, gardens and furnishing from  creators across SL, enjoy talks and presentations by designers, enjoy entertainment throughout the week and - most importantly, help raise funds for RFL of SL. YThe 2014 event will now take place between September 16th and 28th
The Home and Garden Expo is the SL event where users can see homes, gardens and furnishing from creators across SL, enjoy talks and presentations by designers, enjoy entertainment throughout the week and – most importantly, help raise funds for RFL of SL. The 2014 event will now take place between September 16th and 28th, with press days on the 14th and 16th September

While the new dates for the event fall outside of the main RFL of SL fundraising season, the 2014 Home and Garden Expo will still be an RFL of SL event, and 100% of all fees, sponsorships and donations will go directly to the RFL of SL 2014 fundraising coffers.

One element of the Expo will, however, still occur in May 2014. This is the Fiction for a Cure activities (readings, auctions, and raffle), which will take place May 16-26 on the American Cancer Society island.

SL projects updates week 3 (2): upcoming server releases, Fitted Mesh, HTTP, Oculus Rift & more

Server Deployments: week 4

Because Monday January 20th is a holiday in the USA, Maestro Linden has posted details of the deployments which will take place in week 4. Despite the US holiday, the deployments will still take place on Tuesday and Wednesday as usual.

As always, please refer to the week’s forum deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

Main Channel: Tuesday January 21st, 2014

The Main channel should received the server maintenance project which has been on the RC channels for the last couple of weeks. As notes in previously SL projects updates in this blog, this comprises:

  • The forced delay in llLoadURL has been reduced to 0.1 seconds
  • New LSL functions for uniformly scaling linksets (integer llScaleByFactor(float scaling_factor), float llGetMinScaleFactor(),float llGetMaxScaleFactor() )
  • Preliminary support for custom default permissions on newly created objects – currently awaiting viewer-side support via STORM-68, which has yet to be released
  • Preliminary support for the viewer fetching the LSL syntax rules from the simulator, for up-to-date syntax highlighting in the script editor – currently awaiting viewer-side support via STORM-1831, which has yet to be released.

Release Candidate Channels, Wednesday January 22nd, 2014

All three RC channels should receive the same server maintenance project, which contains a single fix for a crash mode.

SL Viewer Updates

The following section contains notes taken during the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday January 17th, a video of which is included below. My thanks, as ever, to North for the latter.

Fitted Mesh

As reported here, the Fitted Mesh viewer reached release candidate status on Thursday January 16th, with the release of version, which also includes a number of bug fixes and STORM contributions from third-party developers.

Issues Affecting ATI/AMD Users

There are reports of additional issues arising within the Fitted Mesh viewer which are not apparent in other version of the SL viewer.  These issues appear to impact those using ATI/AMD graphics cards and have Advanced Lighting Model disabled.

In the first issue, non-rigged mesh is invisible when viewed on the Fitted Mesh viewer (see FITMESH-20), which was reported for the new release candidate version of the viewer. In the second (FITMESH-6), worn mesh which is not rigged to the collision bones is seen to stretch away towards the 0,0,0 point of the region the avatar is standing in (which is oddly similar to how viewers without the Fitted Mesh updates render garments rigged to the collision bones in an avatar).

Rigged mesh which is not using the collison bones as seen with the Fitted Mesh viewer
Rigged mesh which is not using the collison bones as seen with the Fitted Mesh viewer when running on systems with ATI / AMD graphics and Advanced lighting Model disabled (image courtesy of Willow Wilder)

Again, these problems only appear to impact those using ATI/AMD graphics cards and who are running with ALM disabled. Initially, the problem had been thought by the Lab to be a  driver issue, but testing reveals the problem to occur across a range of ATI/AMD drivers, including the most recent Catalyst updates.

New Sliders and Asset

Redpoly Inventor has also raised a feature request (see FITMESH-19) for what he calls a “Mesh Clothing Adjuster” which can be used to scale specific parts of the collision skeleton in order to achieve better fitting for the likes of knee boots, tank top straps or any clothing that doesn’t look good with alphas. He also includes code with the JIRA which people can add to their viewer in order to create slider to the shape menu which controls the clavicle volumes.

Continue reading “SL projects updates week 3 (2): upcoming server releases, Fitted Mesh, HTTP, Oculus Rift & more”

Raising the roof: HTTP gets a blog post

Those who read this blog know I try to report on the various LL projects which are on the go, both server-side and viewer side and – in some cases – both.

Monty Linden: sdpearheading the HTTP work
Monty Linden: spearheading the HTTP work

One of the latter is the HTTP project work, which has been in progress over the last couple of years and spearheaded by Monty Linden, who has been slowly but surely making dramatic changes to SL’s sometimes creaky communications mechanisms. This work started with texture fetching, way back in 2012, and has steadily progressed from there,  with changes being made both server-side and within the viewer.

Much of this work has gone unsung among the greater populace of SL as a whole, which is a shame, as Monty is perhaps one of the great heroes of SL and the Lab for taking-on this work and developing a project and roadmap which not only massively improves viewer / server communications and their overall robustness, but which is also having beneficial impact elsewhere (such as Monty rebuilding third-party libraries critical to the viewer and putting in place mechanisms to ensure they are properly maintained going forward) and also preparing the ground  for HTTP pipelining.

Monty's HTTP work encompasses viewer / server communications
An early phase of Monty’s HTTP work from 2013

Most recently, Monty’s work has involved overhauling the way in which mesh is handled between the viewer and the server (both uploads and – in particular – downloads), something which has been an issue since mesh was first introduced, due to the manner in which it effective “shotguns” the network, and also because – to a degree – people don’t fully understand the impact certain debug settings have on viewer / server communications.

The fruits of this labour have already been released server-side, and now the viewer changes are reaching a point where they will soon be filtering into viewers of all flavours, the code having now moved from a project viewer to a release candidate viewer.

(This viewer should also address the DNS problems many users have experienced and eliminate the need to use the Google DNS workaround for those who have been affected.)

The HTTP project has improved "under the hood" performance in SL in a number of areas, starting with texture fetching, anf through greater robustness of connections through the use of keepalives
The initial HTTP work raised the request rate ceiling within the viewer for texture and mesh data from A up to the blue line of C. Future work will hopefully raise it still further

The blog post is a careful and clear explanation of the work which has gone on to date, covering all aspects of the project, the positives and some of the negatives, while touching on some of the complexities of viewer / server communications which are outside of the Lab’s direct control, but which these changes may well still help alleviate to some degree. The piece also looks to the future and what also might be folded-in to the work, allowing for management decisions, staffing, and other priorities as well. While the look ahead is somewhat speculative at this point in time, it does point towards some intriguing options, such as updates to HTTP services such as inventory operations…

All-in-all, the post is a worthwhile read for anyone with any interest whatsoever in the work the Lab is putting into trying to improve Second Life and improve the experience for all of us who use it.

Of ambient art and large calibre handguns

The Linden Endowments for the Arts is hosting a series of 16 “interim” art projects through until the end of January 2013. I’ve already covered a number of them – see the related links at the end of this piece – and here I turn my attention to the installations by Asmita  Duranjaya  and Maikelkey Resident and by Martini Discovolante and Marion Questi.

Tales of the Future  – LEA25

Tales of the Future  - LEA25
Tales of the Future – LEA25

Tales of the future is a joint piece by Asmita  Duranjaya  and Maikelkey Resident which presents “5 immersive environments of 5 ambient études”, together with a live performance space.

Asmita has been immersed in art since her childhood, seeing it s a way to express her emotions and communicate in a non-verbal way. She works in a range of genres, including still-life, portraiture and surrealism, as well as producing applied art such as book covers, event posters, etc. More recently she has become increasingly involved in the medium of digital art using a tablet and pen. Within SL, her work has been presented at a number of venues, and she has her own exhibition space at Space 4 Art, where she exhibits both her own work and the work of other SL artists. At LEA25, she has produced the immersive environments.

Maikelkey is actually the digital persona of German science-fiction author, writer, translator and composer Michael K. Iwoleit. As well as being a published author in his own right, he is the co-founder of the German science-fiction magazine Nova and the international SF magazine InterNova. He has translated works by Iain M. Banks, Cory Doctorow, Sean Williams, Chris Moriarty and David Wingrove, among others. At LEA25, he is responsible for the 5 ambient études.

Tales of the Future – LEA25

Traditionally, an étude is a short instrumental musical composition of considerable complexity designed to help perfect a particular musical skill. It’s a technique that will certainly be well-known to those who have been formally taught the piano, although it is by no means restricted to that particular instrument.  Here, the use of the term is somewhat broader,  the pieces on offer seeking to present a specific atmosphere or mood.

All five of the ambient environments are located in the sky and reached via anywhere door-style teleports located around the edge of the ground-level performance area. Each has a short description of the piece over the door, which will carry you to the environment when clicked. Once there, and with the exception of one of the environments, you’ll be asked to activate the required étude by following a web link. There are interactive elements to some of the environments, so keep an eye out for poseballs and hovertext when visiting them.

Tales of the Future  - LEA25
Tales of the Future – LEA25

The use of web links is perhaps a little less than perfect, at least to me, as they form an intrusion into four the immersive aspects of the build, as the visitor either has to swap between viewer and browser to start the associated étude, or (if using the viewer’s built-in browser), have a floater open which then blocks a fair portion of the in-world view. Both of these points left me wondering why each of the ambient environments couldn’t have been presented within its own parcel, with the étude streamed into it for a more seamless  immersive feel.

The performance area itself sits within a “depression” in the centre of a rocky landscape bathed in a suitably blue sci-fi like light and covered by a blue dome. Anti-grav chairs together with poseballs provide room for the audience to hover (or float) before a  small stage area. The latter will be used for live performances by – I assume  – Maikelkey Resident. The first of these, at 14:00 on Saturday January 19th, will be a reading. The second, at 14:00 on Sunday January 19th, will be a musical presentation.

Continue reading “Of ambient art and large calibre handguns”