Sansar announces 2nd live comedy event

via Sansar / Linden Lab

Linden Lab have announced the second live comedy event to be held in Sansar. The SF Sketchfest will take place between 13:00-14:00 PST (21:00-22:00 GMT) on January 12th at the new SF Sketchfest Playhouse. The event will feature comedians David Cross (Mr. Show and Arrested Development fame) and Amy Schumer (MADTv, Insatiable, Shameless), together with openers Irene Tu and Chad Opitz).

Compared to the Comedy Gladiators event hosted in Sansar on December 10th, 2018 (read more here), the SF Sketchfest is receiving fairly low-key and what seems to be very short-notice advertising through social media (by contrast, Comedy Gladiators was promoted via a press notice via the Lab).

Ticket for the event are USD $4.99 each, and can be purchased directly from the Sansar Store.

The SF Sketchfest participants: David Cross and Amy Schumer, Irene Tu and Chad Opitz

These events utilise Sansar’s Broadcast capability, allows avatar audiences across two or more instances of an experience to experience performing avatars, with instances allowing a greater opportunity for friends to attend the vent together (although more work is required to make this more fully possible).

SF Sketchfest is also the second official Sansar event to use the platform’s new ticketing capability, which – when expanded – will be a further means for creator / experience holders to monetise their offerings in Sansar.

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Erik Mondrian: master of fine arts in and beyond Second Life

A still from Empty, the 9th video in Erik Mondrian’s [MFA] Thesis video series, filmed in Second Life
Erik Mondrian is a writer, artist, and scholar who makes work about place, belonging, love, longing, and madness. He holds an MA in Mass Communication & Media Studies from San Diego State University, focusing on virtual worlds as new media, and is close to graduating with Interschool Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Voice Arts & Creative Writing and supplemental concentration in Integrated Media from California Institute of the Arts.

He is also a Second Life resident, and someone I’ve come to know, albeit indirectly through social media, and I’ve  been enriched by our acquaintance.

For his thesis work at CalArt, Erik has produced a series of eleven videos to illustrate his writing, and filmed within Second Life. Each of the first ten videos offers and examination of an aspect of life or identity, or of emotions or feelings, personal reflections or desires; each narrated by Erik, words and images combining into a series of stunningly moving and deeply eloquent visual poems (even those presented as prose) which are quite breathtaking in their breadth and meaning.

Making: the first video in Erik’s Thesis series

As companions to Erik’s words, these are films which are fabulously unique and perfect in reflecting and amplifying his words; each marvellously frames his thoughts and the emotions of each piece without ever intruding or distracting. Through them, Erik displays that not only is he a master of words, but he is also deeply visually creative; the composition, framing and presentation of each video is utterly captivating.

Since my MFA at CalArts is three-pronged, I wanted (with the support & encouragement of my mentor on the Creative Writing side, Jon Wagner) to do a thesis project that blended all three of my areas of study in some way [written word, voice and media] … The project also came about in part because of my years spent in virtual worlds of all kinds [and] the experiences I’ve had there and the people I’ve met …  I’ve been “on-line” for close to 25 years, and almost as long in virtual spaces from IRC and MUDs through to worlds like The Palace, Active Worlds, and of course, almost fourteen years in SL.

– Erik in discussing his thesis video series

What I personally find engaging in these films is the rich, allusive timbre evident in Erik’s writing. Together with his sheer lyricism, he produces wordscapes that are beautifully attractive. Through a crafted choice of words, he encourages, suggests, points – but never blatantly leads or cajoles. He sets out path of thought, complete with potential branches or turns, where allusion and suggestion lies as much within each word as within every passage. He invites us listen and allow our imagination to take whichever route it may choose through prose and verse. Thus, while there may well be a destination Erik has set for our journey, how we reach it is entirely left in our hands – or rather our thoughts and our mind’s eye.

Escape: the second video in Erik’s Thesis series (and her favourite)

These are also unmistakably deeply personal pieces. By his own admission, Erik is reserved, quiet, introverted. Yet he has the gift of observation and the power of expression, These combine to resonate within each of us and find fertile ground within our thoughts. Thus, while personal to him, the ideas, feelings, emotions, questions, desires, ideas and images he creates are equally personal to those who listen and watch. And this is something that he is himself aware of, as he appears to note through the eleventh video in the series, which stands as both a conclusion and an artist’s statement.

Place without belonging. Longing without love. A special kind of madness that comes from hiding in plain sight, seen but not yet recognised, heard but not yet understood. I move through time and space, observing all, saying far too little. What do you make of this? The lives you live, the memories, the moments—where do they go? Who do you find there? I’ve tried to make that journey here, tried to reconcile my circuitous wandering, outwardly aimless, with a destination that remains forever a step ahead, an optical illusion that pulls away even as it draws me forward.

– From video 11: Artist Statement

It is through this final piece that Erik is most revealing about himself and by extension, each of us. As such, and while billed as an “artist’s statement”, it is integral to the whole series and should be watched and absorbed as a part of the whole.

I could wax further on the subject, but really, the best way to appreciate these films is to see and savour them. So instead, I’ll close with a quote from my fellow Second Life writer and traveller, Ricco Saenz

These videos are brilliant, powerful and thought-provoking. They create an intriguing atmosphere – and udoubtedly deserve to be called art.

– Ricco Saenz, January 11th, 2019

You can see all of the videos back-to-back in their intended order via Erik’s Thesis playlist. And be sure to read the accompanying notes for SLurl to the SL locations featured in each.

Related links

The Inevitability of Fate in Second Life

The Inevitability of Fate

I was led to The Inevitability of Fate, a region-wide installation by Rose Borchovski (the innovative Dutch multimedia artist, Saskia Boddeke in the physical world) by fellow grid explorer (and accomplished writer and machinima maker) Erik Mondrian – and I’m genuinely indebted to him for doing so, for a number of reasons.

The first is, and to be perfectly honest, I actually had no idea any of Rose’s installations were still present in Second Life; over the last few years she appears to have focused more on physical world installations that have a virtual cross-over features the work of artists such as Bryn Oh (see Art and Obedience in Berlin and Second Life and The virtual reality of the Russian avant-garde for more). Secondly, while this installation did get a mention in this blog when writing about Rose’s work on 2013, I never actually properly reviewed it, so I can now put that to rights.

Thirdly, and most significantly, this is an installation that is poignant in its message, and while it reflects on events that took place in the middle of the 20th Century, the underpinning message it carries has as much relevance in the world in today’s political climate.

The Inevitability of Fate

The landing point provides, via blank verse, a synopsis of the installation. This comes with an information note card outlining preferred viewer settings. Of these, the most important is to make sure your local sounds (not the audio stream) are active – a major part of this piece is aural, starting right on the landing point itself, which should be listened to before taking the teleport down to the ground level, as it very much sets the scene both directly through the spoken words and by the background sounds – particularly the clackety-clack of a train, which is not as innocent as might first seem.

On the ground, we are introduced first to Lot, then to her mother, Beth. All seems normal, Lot at play in the first vignette, and beyond it, Lot happily celebrating her ninth birthday with her mother. As a small aside, when moving through the vignettes (your route is denoted by white-on-black arrows), keep an eye out for the yellow tear drops, which offer poses, and the small blue eyes, which offer teleports.

These first vignettes are joyous – as childhood should be. But all too quickly, things change as we move beyond the birthday celebration.

The war came and all did change. A harsh hand ruled the world of Beth and Lot. They were forced to leave. They were separated from each other. They were made the enemy.

The Inevitability of Fate

With the war comes an increasing series of unsettling changes: we – with Beth and Lot – must wear yellow ribbons (a recognition of Jews within Germany and other occupied  / Axis nations being forced to wear the yellow Star of David). Then we are informed of a list of restrictions placed on our lives, both in terms of movement and activities. Finally comes removal of identity we become a number and “the Ememy”, forceably relocated to a ghetto.

This leads, inevitably to separation, as Lot is taken away from Beth. Here the story jumps forward to a post-war era, where, and although she survived, Beth’s agony does not end.

After the war Beth returned. The child Lot had disappeared; no one knows where she went. Beth keeps searching for Lot. On good days, Beth is able to imagine that Lot is flying like a bird, with her face towards the sky, searching for the stars. On bad days, Beth can only be angry about her loss. Beth’s wounds will never heal. Lot had no chance to become who she meant to be.

The Inevitability of Fate

While the horrors of the concentration camps and the Holocaust are not represented directly, they are given subtle recollection: the aforementioned clacking of train cars on rails (trains being the means by which those from the Ghettos were ferried to the camps) and the high “fence” surrounding the installation revealing itself, when viewed closely, to be the names of those known to have lost their lives as a result of their internment. Meanwhile the chequerboard surface of the landscape and some of the elements within it might be seen as an indirect reference to the stripped uniforms worn by those interred in camps and prisons.

Although historical in presentation, the relevance of The Inevitability of Fate to the modern political landscape is clear, from the re-emergence of discrimination and bigotry against people on the basis of appearance, colour race, gender or sexual orientation, through to the use of their religion or circumstance to blank label them as “the enemy” and / or a scapegoat for perceived woes – or simply as a means of political expediency / deflection, right up to and including the separation of children from parents, which has led to many of the latter being left entirely unaware of the fate of the former.

All of this may make The Inevitability of Fate an uncomfortable visit, but that doesn’t make it any less worth seeing.

SLurl Details

2019 SL User Groups 2/1: Content Creation

Winter's Hollow; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrWinter’s Hollowblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, January 10th, 2019 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

There are still no updates to the current crop of official viewers in the pipelines, leaving things as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5, promoted December 13. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522564, December 19.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.522614, December 18. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.0.2.522531, December 18.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Hover Height / Vertical Positioning Issue

Ever since server release 18#18.10.25.521081 was deployed at the end of October / beginning of November 2018, there have been reports of a hover height / positioning issue for full mesh avatars of less than “normal” height. This can leave such avatars floating 0.2 to 0.3 metres off the ground if non-height related changes are made after hover height has been set (BUG-225893).

Current Status

Anchor Linden has found the root cause for the issue, buried in the Bake Service. He has a fix for the problem, and it will be going out as soon as possible after it has been through testing and QA.

Animesh

Animesh and Pathfinding

As noted in my Simulator User Group update, there is increasing interest in Pathfinding now that Animesh is available, and there is a forum discussion going on around the ways and means to move Animesh which encompasses tests with Pathfinding.

Again, the Lab currently aren’t working on Pathfinding, but they are aware of the discussions and following them. In particular, there is interest in hearing back from people who have used Pathfinding sufficiently who could perhaps help define a set of best practices for using the capability / who have used it sufficiently with Animesh to be able to point to deficiencies in the system or could suggest means of improving it.

Animesh Sex?!

Early on in Animesh development a feature request was put forward suggesting a switch be added to the viewer so that if Animesh creators are on a parcel with parcel privacy enabled, they will obey the setting and not be seen from outside of the parcel so long as the root prim remains within the boundary (see BUG-202592). The idea would be to prevent “adult / sex” Animesh from being accidentally seen.

The bug was closed without action, and a suggestion has been made to add a scripted capability to do the same things. This seems to be something of an edge case / overkill, given animated objects of a sexual nature can be seen within a region with privacy enabled, even if the using avatars cannot.

Animesh Marketplace Sub-Categories

  • There are currently no plans to add sub-categories to the Animated Objects category of the Marketplace.
  • If it is  felt there is a name to add further sub-categories, suggestions should be made via the CCUG meetings and also the Web User Group meetings.

Environment Enhancement Project

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. It uses a new set of inventory assets (Sky, Water, Day),  and which include the ability to use custom Sun, Moon and cloud textures. These can be stored in inventory and traded through the Marketplace / exchanged with others, and can additionally be used in experiences.

The project also includes 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).

Resources

Current Status

  • Graham is continuing the final work on the shaders for things like crepuscular ray support, and Rider is working on a clean-up of the new EEP UI elements.
  • An updated project viewer that includes all of this work is anticipated as being available in week #3 (commencing Monday, January 14th, 2019).
  • Rider will also be updating the EEP LSL documentation in the wiki.
  • Sample settings objects are expected to appear in the viewer library “soon”. These will comprise all of the current default windlight settings found in the official viewer, plus a selection of windlights found in Firestorm.

ARCTan

ARCTan is the code-name for the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both, which it is hoped will also help correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh). This project has been on a slow burn through 2018, but is due to resume in 2019 – although when is still to be determined.

Other Items

  • iOS Client: Mention was made of the preliminary work being carried out to develop an iOS client. For details, please refer to the following blog posts:
  • Wiki updates: these is apparently some issue with the SL wiki which is causing problems with updates to the “official” pages managed by Linden Lab.
  • Mac Retina fixes: there are apparently issues of UI blurring with Mac Retina screens. There are fixes in-hand, but the time frame for deployment is not clear, although a new build of the viewer with Retina support was due to go to the Lab’s QA team on Thursday, January 10th.
  • Next CCUG Meeting: due to the Lab’s internal All Hands meeting (delayed from the start of the month), the next CCUG meeting will be on Thursday, 24th January, 2019.

 

High Fidelity pilots HFC and Ethereum trading

via High Fidelity

On Tuesday, January 8th, 2019, High Fidelity announced the start of a pilot programme that will allow High Fidelity users to trade between High Fidelity Coin s(HFC) and Ehterium Either (ETH).

Etherium is an open-source, public, blockchain based distributed computing platform / operating system featuring smart contract (scripting) functionality. It incorporates a cryptocurrency  – the Ether.

The latter functions in a similar manner to the Bitcoin, and its use has been boosted over the last two years by the  Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), an non-profit organisation of over 150 members, including national and global banks, technology companies such as Cisco and Microsoft, investment houses and research organisations, with the aim of driving the use of Ethereum blockchain technology as an open-standard across multiple market sectors.

via High Fidelity

Initially, High Fidelity will be allowing users to purchase HFC using ETH. However, over time, all High Fidelity users will be able to buy and sell their HFC for ETH, although an ETH wallet will be required.

Trades of HFC will be handled in fixed amounts of $25 or $50 (HFC 2,500 or 5,000), and will be handled via an in-world banker, through a process similar to that currently used to convert HFCs to USD. As the programme with ETH develops, High Fidelity plan to start offering an automated means of selling HFCs for ETH, and may eventually see the ability to sell HFCs directly for USD values discontinued.

An important point to note with trades is that HFC is a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar (100 HFC = US $1.00), while Ethereum varies against the Dollar. Thus, the exchange rate between HFC and ETH will fluctuate.

This is a further interesting move by High Fidelity, which High Fidelity see as being key to the future of buying / selling HFC:

Over time, we see this being our primary method for purchasing and selling HFC. It’s convenient, global, well-governed and broadly adopted. In future, we may enable trades to other cryptocurrencies or tokens, either directly or through third-party exchanges. We also hope that HFC will be used by other VR platforms or applications, making the transfer to Ethereum even more useful.

– High Fidelity blog post on HFC and ETH trading

You can read the full announcement here.