A world first for Second Life Machinima?

via the UWA Second Life website

I’m “borrowing” the title of this article from a UWA blog post by Jay Jay Jegathesan (Jayjay Zifanwe in Second Life), who also e-mailed me about the forthcoming Eugene International Film Festival and the special place Second Life machinima has within it.

In short, Metaphor, a film directed by Basile Vignes  and produced by Jay Jay, has won the Best Animated Short Film at the festival, in a competition that included the internationally acclaimed animated short iRony, which has already won 120 awards world-wide, and has been short-listed for 5 Academy Award Qualifying festivals.

It is believed that no other Second Life machinima has previously won the top prize in open competition against ‘conventional’ animated short films from across the spectrum. As the winning Animated Short Film, Meatphor will be shown at the festival, which takes place over the weekend of the 9th through 11th November, 2018, in Eugene, Oregon, USA, along with all the other selected entries.

Commenting on the announcement that his film had won the award, Basile stated:

I am very proud and honoured that Metaphor won this award for best animation. This in competition with a selection of films each of which could have had the first prize. A big thank you to the jury who chose my film and congratulations for your excellent movie Festival.

Metaphor excerpt

The film, which Jay Jay and Basile bill as French-Australian co-production although Basile is currently based in India, is a story about identity – the faces we wear in life, both public and private, with the synopsis stating:

The protagonist in this film, uses the avatar and handle ‘Fallen God’ when accessing social media and virtual worlds. In his virtual journeys, he comes across the mysterious, beautiful and enchanting ‘Encre’. Will this encounter turn into a relationship touched by the spark of the infinite? This animated French-Australian film, based on true events that happened 2017 explores the many masks we wear along with the question of identity and relationships in the modern world in all its shapes and forms.

Also responding to the award, Jay Jay paid tribute to Basile’s work, noting:

Over the years as Festival Director for numerous UWA machinima film challenges, Basile proved to be among the finest exponents of this genre, along with his chief animator, Tutsy Navarathna, and when the thought came to me to try to take Second Life machinima across the globe on the international film festival circuit, I could think of no one better to partner with on this endeavour.

This is the very first win for Metaphor, and I do hope that it’s not the last. I also look forward to the film’s Australian premiere next month at the Perfect Light Film Festival in Broken Hill, New South Wales.

Congratulations to Basile, Jay Jay and all involved in the project on winning this award.

I’d also like to point out that iRonymentioned above, is in fact an animated short by Jay Jay’s son, Radheya Jegatheva (it is also narrated by Jay Jay). Radheya is fast emerging as a talented film-maker, and I’ve been fortunate to cover some of his work previously in these pages (see here and here for more). This being the case, I’d also like to pass on congratulations to him on also having iRony accepted by the Eugene International Film Festival and featured as one of its selected films, and on his film having already achieved so much internationally.

Sansar: November 2018 Look at Me release

Legend of Wysterra (WIP)

On Tuesday, November 7th, Linden Lab issued the Look At Me release for Sansar. It is perhaps one of the most radical changes to the platform’s client since the public beta opened in 2017, incorporating both an overhauled user interface and revised controls for both VR and Desktop mode.

This article is designed to provide an illustrative summary of the release, but do note the lack of an VR headset and controller on my part means that any features described in detail here are looked at from the Desktop Mode.

The full release notes for the update are available here.

Initial Notes

  • As is generally the case with Sansar deployments, this update requires the automatic download and installation of a client update.
  • Updates in this release mean that on logging-in for the first time following the update, users will be placed in the Look Book (Avatar App).

Client UI Updates

As a part of getting ready for the release of Sansar on Steam (see here for more), as well as to make the UI easier to understand in general, this release sees a complete redesign of the client UI controls, which is perhaps the most immediately visible part of the update.

Log-in Options Revised

The first noticeable change on launching the updated UI is the revised log-in display. This is now more compact and presents a more clear-cut set of options:

  • Log-in using your Sansar credentials.
  • Log-in using your Twitch credentials (if you are a Twitch user registered with Sansar).
  • Create a Sansar account.

It’s a small change, but it does make the client look cleaner on start-up.

New UI Buttons and Layout

The next obvious change to the UI seen after logging in is with the UI buttons. These have been both moved to the left side of the client window and revised to group options together more logically, provide better ease of access to options and tools, and generally be more intuitive without intruding too much into a scene.

Excluding the microphone toggle button, there are five function buttons. A neutral grey when not in use, they will turn blue when the mouse pointer is moved close to them or hovered over them. Hover over a specific button, and it will display a label: Go; Socialize; Create; Shop; and More options. Click on a label, and it will display a menu of options.

For those familiar with Sansar, it’s worth studying these menus, as they do see some options renamed and / or moved. For example:

  • The Atlas is now more generically referred to as Find Experiences (Atlas) under Go.
  • Go also includes the Events option (previously a separate button)
  • The Create button brings together the Look Book option (previously a separate button),  and adds the options to create an experience or an event, rather than restricting these to buttons in the Atlas and Event panels.
  • The Snapshot option is relocated from the old More Options drop-down to the new Socialise button.
The new UI buttons and their sub-menus (click for full size, if required)

In addition, there are some new options, such as Favourite Places under the Go button, which opens the Favourites tab in the Atlas; or the Learn to Build option under the Create button, which opens the knowledge base table of contents page  Creating in Sansar, in a web browser tab.

The new buttons are also visible in VR mode, but are now displayed on a menu over the left wrist.

The new UI buttons as they appear in Sansar’s VR mode. Credit: Linden Lab

Revised Keyboard and Controller Options / Buttons

The Look at Me release sees a number of revisions to keyboard and controller commands.

  • The updated help / reporting options (via F1)

    Desktop Controls

    • Hold Left Shift to Sprint (was double tap WASD) – configure in Settings to choose between “Hold Left Shift” or “Toggle Left Shift“ for Sprint.
    • Hold Spacebar to bring up teleport GUI, and release to teleport to target location (was Hold Shift) – mouse wheel button is still assigned to quick teleport.
    • Press F1 to bring up the new help & reporting window.
  • Oculus Touch Controls (VR)
    • Teleport moved to the A and X buttons (was Left and Right Trigger)
    • Pressing Y will still open the VR menu, but it now appears on your left wrist (see above).
    • “Toggle Sprint” is now an option in settings.
  • Vive Controllers (VR)
    • “Toggle Sprint” is now an option in settings.
  • Camera Controls
    • Hold “Left Shift + WASD” to temporarily increase camera movement speed while held.
    • Hold “Left Ctrl + WASD” to temporarily decrease camera movement speed while held.
    • Tap “+” to increase camera movement speed. (In addition to Numpad +)
    • Tap “-” to decrease camera movement speed. (In addition to Numpad -)
  • Edit Mode Controls
    • Press Backspace to delete an object (in addition to Delete)
  • Improved 3rd person camera
    • Over-the-shoulder camera now has object avoidance. The camera will not go through walls in desktop or in VR.
    • Scrolling the mouse wheel in desktop mode will allow the user to zoom in/out, even to the point of going into first person and back out to third person again.

Continue reading “Sansar: November 2018 Look at Me release”

Somewhere in Time in Second Life

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

Somewhere in Time is a full region held by Quinn Holsworthy (Zoey Drammond), who also lead the team responsible for landscaping it. In keeping with the time of year in the northern hemisphere, the region offers a winter setting, rich in snow, which covers the ground and clicks to rocks and trees even as more swirls down from the pastel sky overhead.

Located just off the centre of the region, towards the west side, the landing point sits on the low-lying portion of the region, a place where snow-dusted terraces and flagstones surround a frozen pond ripe for ice skating  – as demonstrated by the penguins enjoying themselves on the ice. Wooden pergolas line two sides of the ice, while tall cliffs rise from the south side, crowned by the steel girders of a rail track.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

This track, bearing the weight of a steam train and its carriages, curves to the east and to one of the two tunnels marking its extremities. The tunnel occupies one side of a broad, rocky plateau, home to a white-walled chapel surrounded by a copse of fire trees. A finger of rock extends back inland from this plateau, forming another wall partially enclosing the ice rink. With a path winding down to the rink and its pergolas, this rocky finger is home to a social area lit by lanterns and warmed by braziers.

Lanterns are something of a motif for the region: more can be found floating among the trees or over the waters in places, more usually tacking the form of small hot air balloons bearing naked flames which presumably help keep them aloft.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

To the north of the region water flows freely through the landscape and trails wind through the trees, some  rutted and snow-bound, others bare dirt, connecting cabin to cottage to barn. Wooden platforms step down to the water’s edge. To the north-west, one of these paths rises to where a large house sits, a wrought iron fence guarding its snow blanketed garden.

All of this barely scratches the beauty of the region and the attention to detail paid in its design – those who have visited Quinn’s region of SilentRane (read here for more) will only be too familiar with her attention to detail. There’s the Christmas tree farm offering warm beverages (albeit with cars laden with trees driving towards it, rather than away from it as one might expect), the look-out point up towards the train-bearing cliffs, the deer, the horse-drawn sleigh awaiting couples, and so on.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

The amount of snowfall in the region can impact performance when exploring – in places I found my FPS bottomed-out at under 4 with shadows on, and didn’t climb too much higher with shadows and ALM disabled, so do take this into consideration when visiting. However, there is no doubting the photogenic quality to Somewhere in Time, and those taking photos are invited to submit them to the Somewhere in Time Flickr group.

Perfect for the season, picturesque, and with an imaginative design, Somewhere in Time makes for an engaging visit.

Somewhere in Time; Inara Pey, November 2018, on FlickrSomewhere in Time – click any image for full size

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