A look at the Lab’s new promo videos

secondlifeUpdate: December 26th: Seems I may have been a little hasty in critiquing the Welcome to Second Life video. Both of the new videos are intended as part of an e-mail campaign, and so additional context will be given. 

Tuesday, December 23rd saw the Lab issue two new promotional videos on You Tube (although interestingly, at the time of writing, one one appears on the WhatIs page of the official SL website). I missed both when released – so thank you to Whirly Fizzle for sending a G+ notification of both, which showed-up on my Nexus tablet.

There has often been strong criticism of past SL promotional videos produced by the Lab, some if which have seemed a tad confusing, while others have perhaps given a bit of a false impression about the platform. In the past I’ve droned on about the Lab doing more to work with established machinima makers to put together promotional material; in fact I did so as recently as January, thanks to Strawberry Singh raising awareness of a very slick promo video for an in-world brand.

So what are the latest videos like?

Well, pretty good, actually. The first one I caught is called Create in Second Life, and it’s a very good demonstration of just that – content creation in Second Life. It comes with the descriptive tag of Second Life is a powerful platform for creativity. Everything in Second Life – interactive 3D objects, unique experiences, global communities, and more – is created by people just like you.

It runs for bang-on one minute (with 52 seconds of actual footage). The editing is fast-paced without being confusing, and the various sequences provide a pretty good glimpse at various elements of content creation within the platform.  There is a lot showcased in the film, including Cica Ghost’s Little Town and the famous Dwarfins, together with Chouchou, to name the three I instantly recognised. What’s more, footage from The Drax Files: world Makers series is used (notably clips from segment #23, featuring Loz Hyde).

All told, it is a snappy, tightly-produced video that showcases SL very well.

The second (for me in terms of viewing order) is entitled Welcome to Second Life. It runs to slightly longer – 1:07 minutes, with 1:04 comprising footage. It also includes a more detailed description:

Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined and designed by you. From the moment you enter Second Life, you’ll discover a universe brimming with people and possibilities.

Create and customize your own digital 3D persona, also known as your avatar. Be a fashion diva, a business-savvy entrepreneur, or a robot or all three. Changing identities is quick and easy, so if you tire of your avatars outfit or body, shop for a new one in Second Life or from your web browser. Then switch it in seconds.

Every minute, Residents assemble buildings, design new fashion lines and launch clubs and businesses. There’s always more to see and do.

However, as much as I like it, it does cause something of a niggle; the video supposedly takes one through engaging in Second Life in “five easy steps”. However, actually joining SL by creating an account is completely missed. Instead, the video  gives the visual impression that all someone has to do is download the viewer and start from there (i.e. any sign-up process is inclusive to the viewer, when in fact it is a separate step), the second step being to “login to Second Life”.

A persona niggle for me with the second video is it does gloss over the need to have an SL account before downloading the viewer
A personal niggle for me in the “Welcome to Second Life” video, which is otherwise pretty good overall, is it does gloss over the need to have an SL account before a new user downloads the viewer and attempts to log-in.

This may sound nit-picky, given it is a promotional, rather than instructional, video. While I don’t expect a promo video to get bogged-down in all the steps required to sign-up, at the same time I can’t help but feel that failing to even point to the Join Now options on the web page could result in people following the steps as outlined by the video only to find themselves facing the viewer log-in screen and screaming a frustrated, “HOW?!”

Beyond this, however, the video is again slick, well-edited and does show off SL’s better features – and it is certainly good to see attention drawn to the likes of the Destination Guide to help people with their engagement in the platform, and to aspects of help and support, as well as to the broader community as represented through the website and forums.

Having said that, both videos do offer a bright, positive look at SL, with Create in Second Life really carrying the banner very well.

6 thoughts on “A look at the Lab’s new promo videos

    1. “Explaining” SL will always be a problem – hence why I like the first video a lot; it engages unreservedly in the potential of the platform for creativity.

      But in an age where it seems everything must be pointed out, no matter how seemingly clear it may appear to us, taking a small extra step (even if it is a simple point to the Join Now option and a label saying, “1. Sign up!”) probably wouldn’t go amiss. As it is, the video could be taken to imply one signs-up as a result of downloading the video, not as an entirely separate activity.

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  1. From the perspective of a new person, I launched the SL Viewer and looked at its new interface. Yeah, there is no mention of signing up for an account if you don’t already have one (as I recall, the previous version of the viewer – where the signin was at the bottom of the screen instead of the top – had a link to create an account). However, if the new person hits ‘enter’ without entering a username (that they wouldn’t have at this point), a dialog box pops up:

    “Oops! Something was left blank. You need to enter the Username of your avatar. You need an account to enter Second Life. Would you like to create one now?”

    Granted, the new user has to hit ‘enter’ in frustration to kick this method of help into action, but it is there…. Maybe making it a bit more intuitive in the next version of the viewer would help the new user accomplish those 5 steps.

    Overall, I liked the new promo videos and will show them to the faculty members I’m constantly trying to drag into SL. 🙂

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    1. Actually, that’s a fair point, and for someone who tested the “first time user” log-in screen, I’d totally forgotten the fact it does happen! Guess I should have de-installed and re-installed to remind myself! 🙂 .

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