Blue Orange: adventures in art in Second Life

Blue Orange

It’s been nigh on a year since my last review of an exhibition at Blue Orange gallery, the music and arts venue in Second Life curated by Ini (In Inaka). Part of the reason for this was that the last exhibition at gallery I covered seemed to be drawn out over an extended period, and then the gallery was reported as being closed for re-building. However, I hopped over recently out of curiosity to find it once again open for business – and the rebuild has left a visit feeling less like a trip to a gallery and more of an adventure of discovery.

The familiar subway landing point is still present – but now with a second platform on the far side of the track, the first indication of changes as ghostly trains roar between the tunnels at either end of the station. The familiar music venue lies at the end of the tiled hall leading away from the platform, a hall displaying images by various photographers taken whilst visiting Blue Orange.

Blue Orange: Daze Landar

From here – or earlier, if you opt to walk along the platform to the doors labelled Art Corner – the adventure begins, as the Art Corner can be accessed via a hole in the wall of the club. This route leads visitors first to the Library. Inspired by The Colour of Pomegranates, a 1969  Soviet arts film directed by Sergei Parajanov, this is a surreal place with unfinished walls, against which books are pinned, with more floating in the air. Each book offers a web link to a writer or poet’s website where the given story or poem can be enjoyed.

Beyond this lies an assortment of halls, some connected directly to one another, others reached via doors or through connecting passages (including the second platform), still others reached via stairs and ladders or by actively jumping down well-like holes. Within each of these spaces art can be found.

Blue Orange: Wakizashi Yoshikawa

At the time of my visit, this included 2D photography and art by Grady Echegaray, Harbor (Harbor Galaxy), Natalia Seranade, Gitu Aura, Thea Maiman, Daze Landar (DaisyDaze), and Ina herself.  3D work by Kimeu Korg (Kimeu) and Bryn Oh (the latter reached via the stairs behind the club’s DJ area) is also to be found, while Wakizashi Yoshikawa and Aïcha (Tubal Amiot) present a mix of 2D and 3D art.

Finding your way around the art spaces is, as noted, something of an adventure; confusing in places (are you supposed to go through the blue door and then drop down to a space apparently between the exhibition halls?), but definitely worth the time taken to explore and discover.

Blue Orange: Gitu Aura

I’m not sure if the gallery will feature a changing roster artists, or whether some of the halls are intended to offer permanent spaces in which artists-in-residence will offer different exhibitions of their work – Bryn Oh’s space, for example, now appears to be a permanent fixture within Blue Orange.

However, such questions are secondary to the time spent in explorations here: the art is rich and diverse, and the nature of the gallery’s halls means that each corner or stair can lead to a pleasing discovery for any lover of art in Second Life. However, when visiting do make sure you have enabled Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) on your viewer (Preferences > Graphics), in order to ensure you see all of the art as intended.

Blue Orange

SLurl Details

Advertisements

Flickr Free account changes: CC licenses, and downloading

via Flickr.com

Following the November 1st statement by SmugMug that Flickr will be changing its account options, limiting Free account holders to only 1,000 images, the company issued an important – for some – clarification on what will happen with free accounts.

In the original blog post, it was stated that Free accounts with more than 1,000 photos or videos have until Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 to download content over the limit, after which Flickr would start deleting content from accounts over the limit (from oldest to newest) until it is reached.

However, on Tuesday, November 7th, a further announcement was made, indicating that images uploaded under Flickr’s own Flickr Commons license or – more particularly for Second Life users – displayed under a Creative Commons licence will not be deleted – but there is a potential catch.

Specifically, the November 7th, 2018 blog post states:

Photos that were Creative Commons licensed before our announcement are also safe. We won’t be deleting anything that was uploaded with a CC license before November 1, 2018. Even if you had more than 1,000 photos or videos with a CC license. However, if you do have more than 1,000 photos or videos uploaded, you’ll be unable to upload additional photos after January 8, 2019, unless you upgrade to a Pro account.

– From: The Commons: The Past Is 100% Part Of Our Future
Don McAskill, SmugMug / Flickr CEO

Obviously, this doesn’t change the fact that Free account holders will not be able to upload more than 1,000 images. However, if you are a Flickr Free account user, and have uploaded your images using a Creative Commons license, it means you should not have to worry about pictures being deleted if you are already over the 1,000 image limit; your images will be preserved  – as will blog links, etc., to them, even if you opt to use another service going forward.

The potential ambiguity with the statement is in the use of the words uploaded with a CC license before November 1, 2018. This might imply that images uploaded under a different licence (e.g. All Rights Reserved), but which have their license changed after November 1st are to be excluded from this arrangement.

I reached out to Flickr to see if they could clarify whether or not images that have their licensing changed after November 1st, 2018 will be included in the new arrangement. Unfortunately, the reply I received this morning was not really helpful:

We’ve been talking with the E.D. at Creative Commons generally about the changes and they have shared their concerns and priorities with us.

At this time we do not have all of the details needed to provide you with a more thorough answer, however, once we do we will update you as soon as possible.

– Statement from an e-mail received from Flickr, November 9th, 2018

Whether “as soon as possible” means before the January 8th, 2019 deadline for the deletion of older images or not, is anyone’s guess. If they do provide me with and update (or issue a clarification) then I’ll certainly post.

But, given that a potential amnesty has been offered, and you are a Free account holder with more than 1,000 images not under a Creative Commons license, you might want to consider altering them anyway, just in case the answer is “yes, they will also be preserved”. This can be done in bulk relatively easily:

  • In Flickr click on You > Organise to open the batch editor.
  • Use the image preview bar at the bottom of the window to scroll through your images to those you wish to change licenses.
  • Drag the photos from the preview bar up into the editing panel.
Batch editing your Flickr images to change permissions

When you have selected your photos (you can obviously do this in batches):

  • Click on the Permission drop-down in the second menu bar at the top of the window.
  • Select Change Licensing from the drop-down.
  • Use the radio buttons to select your preferred Creative Commons license type.
  • Click Change License to apply the change to all the photos you’ve placed in the batch editor.
  • Use Clear This Batch (top right of the screen) to clear the current selection of photos and repeat as required.
There are a number of Creative Commons license options, use the one you’re most comfortable with. Selected option for illustrative purposes only

Also, remember that if you don’t have originals of your images saved locally, you can re-download them at their original uploaded resolution from Flickr in one of two ways:

  • If you’ve organised your photos into Albums, you can download an entire Album.
    • Go to You > Albums > select the required album > click on the download button in the album banner.
    • The images will be ZIPped and saved on the Flickr servers, and you will be sent a download link via e-mail.
  • Otherwise go to You > Camera Roll. By default, this will display your images by date uploaded. You can then select them individually or via the Select All buttons, and use the download button displayed on the pop-up at the foot of the Flickr window to save them to ZIP files ready for download.
    • Multiple images will be ZIPped and saved on the Flickr servers, and you will be sent a download link via e-mail.
    • How many ZIP file you use is down to you and the volume you wish to download.
    • You can re-sort your images by what Flickr call their “Magic View”  – whether this helps sort your images or not is debatable.

2018 SL UG updates 45/2: CCUG summary

Frog Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrFrog Hollowblog post

The majority of following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, November 8th, 2018 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer Updates

The Spotykach RC viewer updates to version 5.1.10.521459 on Thursday, November 8th, 2018. Otherwise, all other viewer remain as per part #1 of these weekly updates.

Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP)

Project Summary

A set of environmental enhancements allowing the environment (sky, sun, moon, clouds, water settings) to be set region or parcel level, with support for up to 7 days per cycle and sky environments set by altitude. Uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day) that can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and which can additionally be used in experiences. A new set of render shaders to support atmospheric effects such as rainbows, crepuscular rays (“God rays”), better horizon haze and fogging (but will not include rain / snow). The ability to change the Sun and Moon and cloud textures with custom textures.

Resources

Current Status

The new simulator update deployed to the Snack channel on Wednesday, November 7th, 2018. This allows environment information to be pulled from the parcel or region, and further scripting work is due in time. There will also be further updates to the viewer in due course.

There has been a request to allow parcel owners set the transition time for EEP settings when moving between parcels, rather than just using the fixed (roughly 10-second) transition time. This is something Rider is reluctant to consider for the first pass of the EEP work, as it is a complex matter to tackle, and constitutes the kind of scope creep he’d rather avoid in trying to get the first pass of EEP out of the door. However, it is among the items to be considered as a part of any EEP follow-up project.  This said, it will be possible to set the transition time on EEP settings directly applied to avatars (once the scripted EEP support is available).

Animesh

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to provide a means of animating rigged mesh objects using the avatar skeleton, in whole or in part, to provide things like independently moveable pets / creatures, and animated scenery features via scripted animation. It involves both viewer and server-side changes.

Graham is working on the support for crepuscular rays and on improved shadow maps, etc., for EEP, but this work will still take “soon time” to publicly appear.

Resources

Current Status

The Land Impact fix for Animesh is now deployed to the RC channels – this ensures that Animesh objects with a regular prim root (rather than a mesh root) should have their default 15 LI including in land impact calculations. If all goes according to plan, this fix will hopefully be deployed to the main (SLS) channel in week #46.

There are no specific updates in the works for the viewer at present, so the simulator update might see Animesh go to release status in the immediate future.

The meeting covered a lot of ground covered in the previous meeting – performance / bound box fixes; avatar shapes for a follow-up project, etc., so please refer to my notes from that meeting for details.

Bakes On Mesh

Extending the current avatar baking service to allow wearable textures (skins, tattoos, clothing) to be applied directly to mesh bodies as well as system avatars. This involves viewer and server-side changes, including updating the baking service to support 1024×1024 textures, and may in time lead to a reduction in the complexity of mesh avatar bodies and heads.

This work does not include normal or specular map support, as these are not part of the existing Bake Service, nor are they recognised as system wearables.

Resources

Current Status

Work is continuing with fixing the Bake Service / appearance service. Some of this work is currently with the Lab’s QA team. Anchor is also working on some viewer-side issues as well.

Normal and Specular Maps Support?

By default, Bakes on Mesh will not support normal and specular maps. This is because the Bake Service managing the avatar appearance does not recognise normal or specular maps, and updating it to do so is seen as a major task in terms of software and hardware.

However, in examining the issue, Cathy Foil has put forward a way to allow Bakes on Mesh to indirectly support normal and specular maps using a combination of three additional bake channels within the Bake Service and a scripted “applier” option, similar to current skin and clothing applier mechanisms.

Would this conflict with mesh body parts that already have a specular or normal map already assigned? While she’s not tested the idea in practice, Cathy believes not, as the additional Bake Service channels are not actually applied to the avatar,  they are simply a means to communicate what should be applied.

However, Graham Linden believes that even this approach would still require alterations to correctly composite the normal and specular maps. It would also likely need some kind of alpha masking capability to ensure odd outcomes are avoided (such as a normal or specular map for, say an underwear layer bleeding through to a skirt layer of clothing).  Cathy has indicated she’ll try doing some testing ahead of the next CCUG.

If nothing else, the provision of further Bake channels that might be seen as for “general purpose” use could lead to creators using them in a variety of ways, leading to further consumer confusion simply because there is no standard approach to how each auxiliary Bake channel is to be used.