A poignant Second Life machinima for Christmas

Jenny’s Holy Night

Nikira Naimarc is a budding machinima maker who contacted me about her first film, Jenny’s Holy Night, asking me if I’d like to watch it.

When most of us would consider entering machinima cautiously, perhaps with a piece of a few minutes duration to test the waters publicly, Nikira went for something far more ambitious. At little under 20 minutes in length, Jenny’s Holy Night easily qualifies as a mini movie.  And it is a moving piece.

“It is a Christmas video, Nikira told me, when she contacted me. “It’s based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Little Match Girl. We premièred in November, and I’ve had very positive feedback.”

First published in 1845, The Little Match Girl is the sad tale of a poor little girl attempting to sell matches on New Year’s Eve. Ignored by the passing people, she is too afraid to go home lest her father beats her. Instead, she sleeps in the cold, dreaming of better times – times she may never see.

For Jenny’s Holy Night, Nikira has updated the story to a modern setting and has moved it to the days leading up to Christmas, with the little girl now an orphan trying to sell little Christmas wreaths she has made to unsympathetic shoppers, concerned only with their own needs.

Made with the support of Die Villa video, who have also made available on YouTube through their channel, Jenny’s Holy Night is a poignant tale. It is a reminder that “the season of giving” can be especially hard for those who don’t have the luxury of having the money to give in order to receive what they need; that that all too easily exist unseen and outside of the excitement of the holiday season – until it is too late.

Please take the time to watch the film below, and if you appreciate it, do consider leaving a comment for Nikira here or on the film’s YouTube page.

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The beauty of a snowflake in Second Life

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug – click any image for full size

“Snefnug is Danish for ‘snowflake’. Welcome to our home in the Arctic circle.” So reads the description for the midwinter landscape of Snefnug, a Homestead region designed by Stella Pelous (Stella Mahogany).

Danish it might be, but with the high peaks of snowy mountains surrounding it, Snefnug is – as the description suggests – perhaps representative of a landscape somewhat further to the north in Scandinavia. Covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the region offers a relatively flat landscape within the bowl formed by the surrounding mountains, from which it is separated by water. This water also cuts into the land to form a deep inlet running from the west, which faces a channel reaching to the open sea beyond the mountains.

The landing point is at the eastern extreme of this inlet, looking out over the water and snow falls from a hazy sky. To the north and south, fingers of land point outwards, linked by a wooden bridge spanning a narrow sliver of water which extends a little further inland from the bay, its passage eventually stopped by the trunk of a mighty oak tree.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

The bridge is guarded at either end by wooden gatehouses, strong A-frames supporting steeply sloping roofs. But the gates are thrown wide, allowing free passage across the water, rather than forcing visitors to trudge through the snow and around the great oak. Whether you head south across the bridge or turn north and west along the northern side of bay is entirely up to you.

Should you head north, the way will take you past a track leading the way to a barn where fir-trees are being sold for Christmas, while a barn heated by a stove and cosy gazebo lit by a warm fire body offer very different places to sit and pass the time. Through a woodland of denuded birch trees, fir-trees and oaks, sits a studio cabin of modern design, warmly furnished – but with doors locked.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Across the bay, on the southern shore, sits a boathouse and quays, the rooms above the boathouse unfurnished, but the building itself offering an imposing shoreline presence. Behind it, a track runs by a snowed-in carousel to a little café with a fireside terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a hot drink while exploring.

The land around and to the north of the café is a mix of open, snow-covered ground, woods, and a tree-lined avenue, inviting exploration. Deer roam the land here, and all routes eventually bring you to another house, roofs laden with thickly laying snow, but doors unlocked and inviting people inside. A short distance to the east, a set of stone stairs wind up one of the region’s two highland areas – a flat-topped plateau of rock on which sits a chapel. A second plateau sits close by, but doesn’t offer a way up its vertical sides.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Those who enjoy walking in winter wonderlands will doubtless enjoy a visit to Snefnug, it is a delightful, open place with plenty of opportunities for photography, exploring and sitting – whether on your own or with a friend or close one. Do keep an eye out for all the little touches with the wildlife around the place from the bird-riding mouse and his (her?) companion to the raccoon family enjoying an outing in the snow.

Another picturesque winter seasonal regions well worth a visit.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

SLurl Details

  • Snefnug (Callisto Bay, rated: Moderate)

SL project updates week #50: server, viewer

Groenland Kangamiut; Inara Pey, November 2017, on Flickr Groenland Kangamiutblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • On Tuesday, December 12th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance package previously deployed to all three RC channels. 17#17.12.01.511131 comprises “internal improvements”, which should not result in visible changes for users.
  • No deployment is anticipated for the the RC channels on Wednesday, December 13th, leaving them on server package 17#17.12.01.51131. A potential deployment to the BlueSteel RC was cancelled, “I found a nasty little bug nest late last night,” Mazidox Linden reported at the Simulator User Group meeting, “Had to halt the move to RC.”

SL Viewer

Two viewers were updated by Linden Lab on Monday, December 11th, 2017:

  • The Alex Ivy 64-bit RC viewer updated to version 5.1.0.511248.
  • The Animesh project viewer updated to version 5.0.10.330058.

The Alex Ivy RC viewer release notes contain the following information, worth reproducing here:

Windows: there are now separate 32-bit and 64-bit builds for Windows.

  • If you use an HD 2000 or 3000 series video card on Windows 10, choose 32 bit
  • Otherwise, choose the one that matches your copy of Windows

If your computer can run 64bit, and most can, you will get better performance and fewer crashes running a 64 bit Windows and Viewer. If you chose the wrong one, the viewer will upgrade you again the first time you run it to the correct one (if you think it made the wrong choice, please file a bug in jira). This build further refines the determination of what is “the best” platform for your system.

Mac:  the Mac build does not support 32-bit Macs (this is permanent, and not really a change since it’s been some time since LL supported OS X versions that would still run on a 32-bit system).

  • This build shows two icons on the Dock when running. The first one is a new launcher/monitor process (SL_Launcher) that checks for updates; the second is the viewer itself, but both are labelled “Second Life Viewer”. If you are going to pin the icon on the Dock, pin the first one or you’ll get a warning each time you launch. We hope/plan to get this sorted out so that only one shows.
  • Video media (QuickTime) usually does not play (the media handling is now the same as the Windows viewer).
  • The volume of web based media (e.g. YouTube) doesn’t change based on your distance from the source.

Linux: there is no Linux viewer yet. We hope to begin work on addressing this with the community after the release of the Mac and Windows versions.

The release notes for the Animesh project viewer include a summary of the key changes from the previous version of the viewer:

  • Animesh objects should now display correctly as impostors, using the same rules that avatars do currently.
  • Fix for a crash triggered by unchecking the animated mesh check box for an Animesh attachment.
  • Fix for Animesh attachment getting removed after teleport.
  • Fix for some of the cases where animesh graphics state could get corrupted.
  • Various clean-ups and optimisations.

The rest of the SL viewer pipeline remains as per the end of week #49:

  • Current Release version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, promoted November 29th – formerly the “Martini” Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Wolfpack RC viewer arrived, version 5.0.10.330001, released on November 30.
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, October 20 (still dated Sept 1 on the wiki page).
  • Project viewers:
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

 

The Haze in Second Life

The Haze

Now open at CKB Art Gallery curated by Ceakay (CK) Ballyhoo is The Haze. It is the latest installation in a series of living stories featuring art and focused on the adventures of a principal character, whose journey we are invited to follow in words, images and settings. For The Haze, CK returns to her own character of Ellie, who featured in A Watercolour Wander (read here for more) and The Forest Beyond (read here for more) in a collaborative story developed with 2D and 3D artist Silas Merlin.

“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” CK says of the installation. “An offer from Silas to use his new builds and sketches to form a story. Using Silas’s new digital sketches and the ruins and creatures he has created, a world started to form, darker than anything we’ve either done before, the story turned into a nightmare: Ellie’s nightmare.”

The Haze

The result is a full region installation far removed from the green and pleasant lands of the first two instalments of Ellie’s dreamworld adventures. Instead, visitors find themselves in a desert-like, ghostly landscape, heavy with a dusty haze (I recommend exploring using the default windlight). Instructions on following the story can be found at the landing point – and should be read. In short, look for the little illuminated STORY stones set on the ground along the way, each one presents a chapter in the unfolding nightmare.

Another difference between this and Ellie’s previous adventures is that not only are the chapters presented in note card form when the stones are clicked, but approach a stone will trigger it being read to you – just have local sounds enabled (*not* the audio stream) to hear the readings. These readings can actually overlap one another, depending on how many are playing when you visit, and where you are in relation to the different stones. This might annoy some; for me, they actually added extra ambience: whispering ghostly voices, overlapping but each telling a story – if you listen carefully and focus on just one of the voices.

The Haze

The setting, with its deserting buildings, twisted trees, creatures and ruins, presents an eerie landscape, barren despite the trees – which appear a sickly yellow-green, rather than the usual robust green of fir-trees.  It’s a haunting place in which scenes loom up at you. They can seem disjointed, sudden – and very nightmare-like for doing so. Amidst all the rocks and fir-trees, seemingly dead trees also sit, their branches denuded of leaves, left to form easels on which groups of Silas’ drawings sit. These also have little STORY stones alongside of them which, when touched, will deliver background notes on a scene to you in note card form, adding further depth the the story.

Silas’ art is as captivating as ever – and there is a lot to see from buildings to gnomes to creatures to rocks (someone them resembling creatures) to people awaiting discovery. The 2D art forming the background stories is cleverly presented and offers an illustrative style reminiscent of a storybook – so thoroughly in keeping with the setting. He and CK have created an immersive tale, one which invites exploration  – and be sure to keep an eye out for the Boogeyman and also the dragon rezzer – the latter will allow you to fly up to the higher reaches of the setting, unreachable by foot, and essential to the story.

The Haze

Also when visiting, don’t miss the UP teleport at the landing point – it will take you to a sky gallery where you can find CK’s own art, more from Silas as well as from other artists, all taken from CK’s personal collection.

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